Trans* Language in Brief

Facebook is allowing custom gender identity labels, yay! I have updated mine to Trans* Male, following the example of my hero Harvey Milk, who exhorted us all to throw open the closet doors.

Here’s a brief primer I wrote for people who read my Facebook, for whom the terms may be new:

Cis — [cisgender, cis woman, cis man, etc] A person who feels their gender identity conforms to the one they were assigned at birth. (i.e. The doctor said “It’s a girl!” and the person feels female.)

Trans /Trans* — [Transgender, transsexual, trans man, trans woman, etc] A person who feels their gender identity is different from the one they were assigned at birth, often that it is the “opposite sex” from the one they were assigned at birth. Some, but not all, Trans* people take hormones and/or undergo surgeries and other body modifications to make their physical expressions conform more closely to their gender identities.

Genderqueer/Gender non-conforming/Two-spirit — A person who feels their gender identity is not exclusively the one they were assigned at birth, or who does not conform to convention about gender expression.

What does the asterisk mean in Trans*?
The asterisk is like a wildcard that makes the term more inclusive. Transsexual and Transgender are both covered in Trans*. Some people include genderqueer and other gender non-conforming identities under the label Trans* as well, in the same way that Queer can be used to include every stripe of the LGBT rainbow.

What about the word “Tranny”?
Originally a derogatory term for Trans* people. Some Trans* people use it to reclaim it, in much the same way that some LGBT people have reclaimed the term “Queer.” Others find the term “Tranny” highly offensive. Use with extreme caution (or better yet, don’t.)

“Transgender” or “Transgendered”?
Transgender. Just like a Black person is not “Blackened”. Being Transgender is an innate property, not a condition that happened to the Trans* person.

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~ by Nezu on 14 February 2014.

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