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Transgender & Transsexual

Many people do not understand what it means for individuals to be transgender or transsexual. Because they do not understand how people can be trans, they are afraid of trans individuals and react with anger toward trans people. Violent hate crimes targeting members of the trans community are a source of significant concern.

Some politicians and school officials are going along with public pressure to ensure that trans students are not allowed to use a bathroom other than the one that is appropriate for the biological sex with which they were born. As a result, a student who identifies as a boy, dresses as a boy and looks like a boy may be required to use the girl's bathroom, because the student was born with a girl's body.

We will start with a couple of important definitions. Biological sex can be described as what is between a person's legs. The sex of a person who has a penis and testicles is male. Gender can be described as what takes place in a person's head - what a person thinks. For most people, there is harmony between the person's biological sex and what gender the person thinks he or she is. When the biological sex and the intellectual understanding of gender agree, people are cisgender. In some cases, there is disharmony between the biological sex and the gender with which the person identifies. When the biological sex a person was born with does not agree with the gender the person identifies as, we get into the topic of transgender and transsexual people.

Transgender Defined

Some people confuse homosexuals and transgender people. Sexual orientation is different than either gender identity or gender expression.

Sexual orientation has to do with the gender of people one finds emotionally and physically attractive. For example, a man may feel emotionally and sexually attracted to men (homosexual), attracted to women (heterosexual), or attracted to both men and women (bisexual). A man who is gay or bisexual is not a transgender person. A gay or a bisexual man is not a man who finds other men attractive, because he identifies as a woman.

Trangender is complex. There is no real quick, easy and accurate way to describe the complexity of what it means to be a transgender person. The definition that appears below is a rough lay definition. People interested in knowing more about the topic are encouraged to get more professional and precise definitions from sites that take a more scientific approach to the topic. The Transgender/Intersex Links page has resources that provide more detailed definitions and descriptions.

Transgender is a catch-all term about how one expresses one's gender. A trans person expresses gender in a non-traditional manner. A wide range of gender expressions may be considered to be transgender. A few things that may be thought of as transgendered include:

• Dressing in clothes usually associated with members of a different physical gender.
• Displaying behavior and dress of people who have a different physical gender.
• Not identifying as either male or female. In this case, people may not identify as either a man or a woman.
• People with male anatomy seeing themselves partly or completely as females.
• People with female anatomy seeing themselves partly or completely as males.
• Being born with both some combination of male and female anatomy. This is generally called intersex.

Transsexual Defined

Transsexual people are generally considered to be individuals who had gender reassignment surgery. For example, a person who was born with a male body may go through a series of surgeries to be given anatomy society identifies as female. People who have had gender reassignment surgery may identify as transsexual. Some people who have transitioned from one gender to another may choose to identify as transgender.


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