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Being transgender

What does the term transgender actually mean?


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in life


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Trans* is an umbrella term for those whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from the sex they were given at birth, for example, transgender or transsexual people. Some trans* people may feel that they are a man born into a female body or a woman born into a male body, but not necessarily.

Trans* people also include people who identify as gender-neutral, non-binary, genderqueer or gender-fluid people, who may identify as a range of combinations of male and female or as neither of the two.

Some trans* people have known they are trans* from a very young age, while others say that they only identified as trans* during adolescence. The term trans* is the preferred term for transgender people.

It’s important if you are friends with or know a trans person to address them with the gender they refer to themselves as and refer to them with their chosen name and gender pronoun.

What's the difference between Trans* and other forms of gender identity?

  • A transsexual person is someone whose gender identity is the opposite of the sex assigned to them at birth. Transsexual people may or may not take hormones or have surgery.
  • Cross-dressers are people who like to wear the clothes of another gender, but who don't identify as another gender.
  • Drag Kings/Drag Queens are people who exaggerate female and male roles, generally for the purpose of entertainment.
  • Androgynes are people who mix the characteristics/appearance of both sexes in a subtle or deliberately flamboyant way.
  • Intersex People are people who can be born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t fit with typical definition of male or female.

Talk to someone

If you are questioning your gender identity, it is important to talk to someone. A professional counsellor or therapist (who is informed on trans issues and has worked with other trans people) may be able to help you decide who you are and what you want.

Sadly, we do not live in an open world and many trans* people have to deal with discrimination, bullying or abuse. So, if you are being bullied or abused, contact BeLonGTo or Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) for advice and help.

Remember, being trans* is normal and ok, and something to be proud of.

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Published May 2nd, 2014
Last updated October 28th, 2015
Tags lgbt trans gender
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

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