Frequently Asked Questions + Resources for our Transgender, Non-Conforming Gender Identity Persons, and their Allies.
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What does the word “transgender” mean?
Transgender – or trans – is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity or expression is different from those typically associated with the sex assigned to them at birth (e.g., the sex listed on their birth certificate).
What is gender identity and gender expression?
Gender identity refers to a person’s innate, deeply-felt psychological identification as a man, woman or some other gender.
Gender expression refers to the external manifestation of a person’s gender identity, which may or may not conform to socially-defined behaviors and characteristics typically associated with being either masculine or feminine.
What’s the difference between sex and gender?
Sex refers to the designation of a person at birth as either “male” or “female” based on their anatomy (e.g. reproductive organs) and/or their biology (e.g. hormones).
Gender refers to the traditional or stereotypical roles, behaviors, activities and attributes that a given society consider appropriate for men and women.
What does it mean to transition?
Transitioning is the process some transgender people go through to begin living as the gender with which they identify, rather than the sex assigned to them at birth. This may or may not include hormone therapy, sex reassignment surgery and other medical procedures.
What do the initials FTM and MTF stand for?
FTM stands for female-to-male and refers to someone who was designated female at birth but identifies and expresses himself as a man.
MTF stands for male-to-female and refers to someone who was designated male at birth but who identifies and expresses herself as a woman.
What does it mean to be “genderqueer”?
An umbrella term for gender identities other than man and woman. People who identify as “genderqueer” may see themselves as being both male and female, neither male nor female or as falling completely outside these categories.
What is gender non-conforming?
A broad term referring to people who do not behave in a way that conforms to the traditional expectations of their gender, or whose gender expression does not fit into a category.
What’s the difference between being transgender and being gay?
Being transgender is about an individual’s gender identity, while being gay is about an individual’s sexual orientation, which is our attraction to people of the same gender, different genders or both. Gender identity and sexual orientation are two different things.
Is there a difference between cross-dressing and being transgender?
Yes, cross-dressing refers to people who wear clothing and/or makeup and accessories that are not traditionally associated with their biological sex.
Many people who cross-dress are comfortable with their assigned sex and generally do not wish to change it. Cross-dressing is a form of gender expression that is not necessarily indicative of a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation.
Is being transgender a mental disorder?
No, but this remains a common stereotype about transgender people.
Transgender identity is not a mental illness that can be cured with treatment. Rather, transgender people often experience a persistent and authentic disconnect between the sex assigned to them at birth and their internal sense of who they are. This disconnect is referred to by medical professionals as “gender dysphoria” because it can cause undue pain and distress in the lives of transgender people.
Do all people who transition have surgery?
No, many transgender people can successfully transition without surgery. Some have no desire to pursue surgeries or medical intervention. “Top” surgery is more common than “bottom” surgery. Most become comfortable in their own skin once their chest matches their gender they identify as.
How do I know which pronouns to use?
Transgender people should be identified with their preferred pronoun. Often this is the pronoun that corresponds to the gender with which they identify. Not sure? It’s appropriate to respectfully ask their name and which pronouns they’d prefer. Some transgender people do not believe in a gender binary and prefer not to use pronouns typically associated with men (e.g. him) and women (e.g. her). Instead, they would prefer if people simply used their names or used a non-gender pronoun such as “their” or “they.”
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