Transgender is the state of one's gender identity or gender expression not matching one's assigned sex. Transgender is independent of sexual orientation; transgender people may identify as heterosexual, homosexual,bisexual, etc; some may consider conventional sexual orientation labels inadequate or inapplicable to them. The definition of transgender includes:
- "Of, relating to, or designating a person whose identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender roles, but combines or moves between these."
- "People who were assigned a sex, usually at birth and based on their genitals, but who feel that this is a false or incomplete description of themselves."
- "Non-identification with, or non-presentation as, the sex (and assumed gender) one was assigned at birth."
A transgender individual may have characteristics that are normally associated with a particular gender and identify elsewhere on the traditional gender continuum, or exist outside of it as other, a gender, gender-neutral,genderqueer, non-binary, third gender, etc. Transgender people may also identify as bigender, pangender, or along several places on either the traditional transgender continuum or the more encompassing continuums that have been developed in response to recent, significantly more detailed studies. Furthermore, many transgender people experience a period of identity development that includes better understanding one's self-image, self-reflection, and self-expression. More specifically, the degree to which individuals feel genuine, authentic, and comfortable within their external appearance and accept their genuine identity is referred to as transgender congruence.
What does transgender mean?
Transgender is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity differs from what is typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth.
Gender identity is someone's internal, personal sense of being a man or a woman (or as someone outside of that gender binary). For transgender people, the sex they were assigned at birth and their own internal gender identity do not match.
Trying to change a person's gender identity is no more successful than trying to change a person's sexual orientation -- it doesn't work. So most transgender people seek to bring their bodies more into alignment with their gender identity.
People under the transgender umbrella may describe themselves using one (or more) of a wide variety of terms, including (but not limited to) transgender, transsexual, and genderqueer. Always use the descriptive term preferred by the individual.
Transgender people may or may not alter their bodies hormonally and/or surgically, but it's important to know that being transgender is not dependent upon medical procedures.
Transgender is an adjective and should never be used as a noun. Rather than saying "Max is a transgender," say "Max is a transgender person." And transgender never needs an "-ed" at the end.
How is sexual orientation different from gender identity?
We use the acronym LGBT to describe the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. The first three letters (LGB) refer to sexual orientation. The 'T' refers to issues of gender identity.
Gender identity is your own, internal, personal sense of being a man or a woman (or as someone outside of that gender binary).
Sexual orientation describes a person's enduring physical, romantic, and/or emotional attraction to another person (for example: straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual).
Transgender people may be straight, lesbian, gay, or bisexual. For example, a person who transitions from male to female and is attracted solely to men would typically identify as a straight woman.
How do I treat a transgender person with respect?
If you'd like to learn more about how to be an ally to transgender people, please visit GLAAD's "Tips for Allies of Transgender People" page.
For a list of basic terminology - including defamatory terms and slurs to avoid, please see GLAAD's Media Reference Guide or the publication An Ally's Guide to Terminology: Talking About LGBT People & Equality.
Why is transgender equality important?
Transgender people face staggering levels of discrimination and violence. In 2012, 53% of anti-LGBT homicide victims were transgender women. According to "Injustice at Every Turn," a report by the National Center for Transgender Equality and The Task Force:
- Transgender people are four times more likely to live in poverty.
- Transgender people experience unemployment at twice the rate of the general population, with rates for people of color up to four times the national unemployment rate.
- 90% of transgender people report experiencing harassment, mistreatment or discrimination on the job.
- 22% of respondents who have interacted with police reported harassment by police, with much higher rates reported by people of color. Almost half of the respondents (46%) reported being uncomfortable seeking police assistance.
- 41% of respondents reported attempting suicide, compared to 1.6% of the general population.
- Transgender people still cannot serve in the US Military.
Transgender people, particularly transgender women of color, face shockingly high rates of murder, homelessness, and incarceration. Most states and countries offer no legal protections in housing, employment, health care, and other areas where individuals experience discrimination based on their gender identity or expression.
The initials LGBT refer to the global community of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. While most people know what the acronym’s first three terms mean, the word "transgender" is not as widely understood.
"Transgender is an umbrella term for persons whose gender identity, gender expression or behavior does not conform to that typically associated with the sex to which they were assigned at birth," the American Psychological Association (APA) explains on its website.
It's important to note that sex and gender are not always the same, though the terms are often used interchangeably.
A person's sex denotes his or her biological status of being male or female. The determination of a person's sex depends on various physical characteristics, including chromosomes, reproductive anatomy and sex hormones. Gender, on the other hand, deals with the behaviors, roles and activities typically associated with the different sexes.
Transgender people may use more specific categories to describe themselves, including transsexual, genderqueer and cross-dresser, according to GLAAD, an LGBT media advocacy organization.
People who are transsexual feel that their sex doesn't match their gender identity, and may take steps to better align their sex with their gender using hormones and surgery. Genderqueer individuals don't identify with either male or female descriptions, and instead feel that their gender falls somewhere along a continuum.
People who cross-dress wear clothing that's traditionally worn by people of a different gender. Cross-dressers are generally comfortable with their birth sex, and this type of gender expression isn't necessarily related to sexual desire or erotic activity, according to GLAAD. (GLAAD also notes that the term "transvestites" is considered derogatory.)
Being transgender only speaks to gender identity and isn't indicative of sexual orientation. Transgender people may be gay, straight, lesbian or bisexual, GLAAD stresses.
Transgender people have a way of expressing themselves, describing their gender, or gender identity (Knowing that you are a boy or girl) that doesn’t always fit society’s rules- that boys are boys and girls are girls.
What is Transgender?
Transgender, or Trans: means someone whose gender differs from the one they were given when they were born. Transgender people may identify as male or female, or they may feel that neither label fits them.
Transition: In order to express their chosen gender, transgender people may transition, or change, from the gender they were given at birth. They may change their names, pronouns or style of dress. Some transgender people also choose a medical transition, with the help of medical specialists, who will prescribe hormones and/or surgery.
Transsexual: a person who lives in a different gender to the one they were given when they were born. For example, someone who was called a ‘boy’ when they were born may feel very strongly that they are really a girl. They would be called a trans woman. If someone was labelled a ‘girl’ at birth, and they later realise that they are male, they would be called a trans man.
Gender Identity: a person’s internal feelings, and the labels they use, such as male, female, or transgender.
What does Gender mean to you?
Young people have lots of different experiences of gender:
- For some, being male or female is something they don’t think about, it’s automatic.
- Other young people feel pressure to measure up to what’s expected of them as male or female.
- Lesbian, gay, and bisexual young people are often told that the only way to be a “real man” or a “real woman” is to be heterosexual/straight.
- Some young people feel that male or female are labels that don’t work for them.
- Other young people can feel like they want to change the gender they’ve been living in during their childhood.
Is Gender a Box?
In our society, there’s lots of stereotypes of how boys and girls are supposed to be:
- Many people act like boys and girls are opposite to each other – completely separate and different.
- Some people say that boys are supposed to like sports.
- Girls can be expected to like pink and have long hair.
- Girls and boys can be encouraged to go into certain types of jobs and not others.
Lots of us find ways to step outside these gender boxes, by wearing different clothes, liking different music, or doing a job that’s outside the norm. Trangender people are also dealing with these gender boxes. Some people feel like they don’t fit at all into the male or the female box, they might call themselves transgender. Some other people want society to be open when they completely change to the ‘opposite’ gender (transsexual people).
Note: Gender identity and transgender are different from sexual identity and lesbian, gay and bisexual. Sexual identity is about who you are attracted to; gender identity is about how you identify as male or female.