The "T" in GLBTIQ: Transgender

Individuals whose gender identity, expression or behavior does not conform with those characteristics generally associated with the sex they were assigned at birth are known as transgender. Gender identity refers to a person's recognition and acknowledgement of being male, female or gender neutral, or something outside those options. Gender expression, on the other hand, refers to the way a person communicates gender identity through behaviors, clothing, hairstyles, voice and body characteristics. "Trans" is often used as shorthand for "transgender."

Transgender is an umbrella term that includes:

  1. Androgynes; those who identify as neither male nor female or identify as a combination of both
  2. Cross-dressers; people who wear clothing often associated with the opposite sex
  3. Drag Kings and Queens dress and act as the opposite sex in some cases for public performance and entertainment
  4. Genderqueers are individuals who challenge the dictomous construction of gender and as such, perceive themselves as neither male nor female or as both or somewhere in between
  5. Transsexuals are people who live as the sex opposite to what they were assigned at birth and sometimes use medical treatments and procedures to help them live as their identified gender.

Aspects of Being Transgender

Transgender people are normal and go about life just like everyone else. They shop for groceries, go the movies, kiss their kids good night, work, and have families.

Transgender people know exactly who they are. They are not confused and include men, women, queer, and other gender categories.

Transgender people are not mentally disturbed. Although, it is important to note that the stressors to conform to gender norms that society places on transgender individuals is overwhelming and can cause emotional and psychological challenges.

Transgender and being Gay are completely different. The sexual orientation of a person is different than their gender identity. Sexual orientation is about who people are attracted to including which gender and which sexes. Gender Identity refers to how people see themselves.

Each transgender person is different and deals with their identity differently. Some transgender people are uncomfortable and choose to alter their bodies while others elect to live with their bodies as they are. This does not mean that they hate themselves.

A transgender person cannot be identified just by looking at them. Transgender people look like everyone else with similar bodies.

Next Module: Coming Out