Transgender people identify with a gender that is different from the sex they were assigned at birth.
The word "transgender" is a broad term that can be used by many people – including people who were assigned male at birth but who identify as female (male to female) and people who were assigned female at birth but identify as male (female to male).
Transgender people may also include those who identity as "gender queer" or "gender neutral," those who do not identify strongly as either male or female.
Transsexual people are those who choose to medically transition to the gender with which they identify. However, not all transgender people have completed or want to complete a medical transition. Transgender people have a wide range of experiences and realities.
- How do I know if I am transgender?
- Is it okay to be transgender?
- How does being transgender relate to my sexual orientation?
- What can I do about harassment of transgender people?
How do I know if I am transgender?
Some people are more comfortable living their life as the gender that is different than the sex they were assigned at birth. They may feel uncomfortable with certain parts of their body that are gender-specific, while others may wish they were in the body of the "opposite" sex.
Other people may simply feel more comfortable emotionally living in the gender that is different from their birth assigned sex. Ultimately, being transgender connects to a personal identity and conception of your gender being different than the sex you were assigned at birth.
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Is it okay to be transgender?
Absolutely. Throughout history, there have been many people who have identified as transgender. Transgender people are all around us and occupy many different professions and ways of life.
While you may encounter people who do not understand transgender or gender identity issues, being transgender is completely normal and okay.
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How does being transgender relate to my sexual orientation?
Being transgender relates to your gender identity, which refers to your personal feelings and ideas about your gender and who you are. Gender identity is separate from sexual orientation.
Sexual orientation refers to who you are attracted to, both sexually and emotionally. Therefore, transgender people have a variety of different sexual orientations. Some transgender people identify as straight, while others identify as gay, and others identify as bisexual.
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What can I do about harassment of transgender people?
Harassment based on gender identity and/or gender expression is unacceptable. There are many things that can be done to end harassment and discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression.
Here are some tips for being an ally to the transgender community:
- If you hear someone make a trans-phobic (discriminatory against transgender people) statement, say something. Stand up to people around you who use derogatory or offensive language – it can make a difference.
- Ask people about what gender pronoun is appropriate to use (generally, he or she, though some people simply like to be referred to by their name). Always use that pronoun when speaking to or about that person.
- In large group settings, such as at a Gay-Straight Alliance club meeting, start each meeting with a check-in that includes asking people to state their preferred gender pronoun (she or he or simply their name). This way, everyone shares their preferred gender pronoun, and no one is singled out.
- Use gender neutral language and avoid making assumptions about a person's gender. For example, refer to a person by their name, rather than with gender-oriented words – such as "sir," "ma'am," or "miss" – until they have identified themselves with a certain gender.
- Educate yourself about issues relating to the transgender community. Keep in mind that the experiences of transgender people are very diverse and that there is no single "transgender" experience.
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