It's Terminology and Categories
What Does Transgender Mean?
Transgender is an umbrella term used to describe people who do not fit into traditional
gender categories, including transsexuals, transvestites or cross-dressers, gender queers,
two-spirit, intersexuals (formerly called hermaphrodites), and sometimes even people
who identify as butch or femme. A transgendered person is someone whose gender
identity or expression differs from conventional expectations of masculinity or
femininity. Gender Identity is one's internal sense of being male or female, and for most
people, there is no conflict between gender identity and their physical sex. However,
transgendered people question and explore their gender identity.
Although transgendered people have been part of every culture and society in recorded
human history, they have only recently become the focus of medical science. Many
medical researchers now believe that transgenderism is rooted in complex biological
factors that are fixed at birth. This research confirms what transgendered people know
and experience on a much more personal basis, that being transgendered is not a choice
nor a "lifestyle.” People who are transgender face discrimination in their jobs, churches, and schools, as well as judgment from their friends, families and coworkers. Unlike many who are
members of minorities related to sexual orientation, a transgender person may not be able
to choose who they come out to. Their physical appearance may automatically "out"
them. People who are transgender have issues similar and dissimilar to the lesbian and gay
rights movement. Both gays and transgender people have issues related to coming out,
relationships, community, identity, family, friends, etc. Both groups of people may be
subject to discrimination on the basis of gender identity. For this reason, the transgender
movement belongs as a distinct part of the LGB movement. Frequently, homophobic
discrimination occurs because of the way a gay person presents his or her gender.
Similarly, a transgender person is often discriminated against because they are perceived
to be gay. Certainly there are some different issues facing the transgender community than those facing the LGB community, just as there are different issues between lesbians, gays, and bisexual people. Presenting a united front against those who do not support our lives and
experiences widens our political viability, and will lead to increased civil rights for all
involved. Unfortunately, there is a great deal of transphobia in main stream society. Most of this is simply due to ignorance.
Who are transgender people?
Transgender people include
(a) ... pre-operative and post-operative transsexuals who generally feel
that they were born into the wrong physical sex;
(b) ... persons living full time in a different
gender with no desire to pursue genital surgery;
(c) ... and crossdressers (once called
transvestites - those whose gender expression often varies from their birth sex). They also
can be "passing" (masculine-appearing) women or "effeminate" men who are often
assumed to be homosexual, although this is not necessarily the case.
(d) ... There are also many intersexed persons born with ambiguous genitalia who later identify
as transgendered. These persons were surgically assigned a sex (usually female) as infants,
and later developed a gender identity different from the sex assigned.