What Is Transgender?

The transgender community is a diverse group that includes people who use male, female, and non-binary pronouns. If you aren’t sure which pronouns to use, ask the person you are interacting with.

Some people choose not to transition and may use the sex they were assigned at birth. Others go through the process of reassignment and hormone therapy.

Gender identity

Gender identity refers to how a person knows themselves to be. It can be masculine, feminine or non-binary (neither entirely male nor female). It differs from sexual orientation, which refers to what people are attracted to. People who identify as transgender often request that others use pronouns that are gender-neutral, or that they be referred to by names and titles that are more inclusive.

There is a strong partisan divide on whether or not society has gone far enough in accepting transgender people. Democrats and those who lean to the Democratic Party are more likely than Republicans and those who lean Republican to say society has gone far enough.

Some people who experience dissatisfaction with the sex assigned at birth, their physical sex characteristics or the gender roles associated with that sex seek treatment for gender dysphoria. This process, known as transitioning, can be social or medical and may include hormone therapy or surgery. It is important to remember that all trans people are unique and that it is always best to ask what term they prefer to be called.

Gender expression

Gender expression is how a person presents their gender publicly through their name, clothing, behavior and voice. It may or may not conform to gender stereotypes, norms and expectations in a culture or time period. People can express themselves as masculine, feminine or a combination of both. Terms for gender expression include androgynous, femme, butch, male/man/masculine, female/woman/feminine, non-binary and transgender.

Gender identity and gender expression are different from sexual orientation, which is a person’s inherent enduring emotional, romantic or sexual attraction to other people. Transgender people often experience discrimination on the basis of their gender identity or expression. They can also be discriminated against by friends, family and others who don’t understand or accept them. These forms of discrimination can be direct and obvious or hidden, and they can happen at work or in community organizations and institutions. It’s important for everyone to support transgender people in their communities. You can do this by using the name and pronouns a transgender person gives you, and refusing to use derogatory language.

Gender dysphoria

Gender dysphoria is a feeling of distress that results from a conflict between your assigned gender at birth and the gender you identify with. It may lead to transgender people seeking medical or surgical treatment, such as hormone therapy and surgery, in order to feel more comfortable in their bodies. This is a common issue for transgender people, and it can be difficult to talk about with family members.

One theme identified in the qualitative studies was “misgendering,” which involved being referred to or treated as a different gender than one’s own. This was related to the earlier theme of suppression or denial and reflected participants’ desire to be affirmed by others in their own gender identity. Another theme was the fear of the future, which referred to the sense of hopelessness and uncertainty that often accompanied decisions about the next step in gender transition. This reflects the difficulty of navigating the socially constructed gender binary.

Gender transition

Gender transition is a process that some transgender people go through to more closely align their internal gender with their external appearance. It can involve social transition (changing the way one dresses, uses pronouns and names, or is socially recognized as a different gender), and/or physical transition (changing body structures through medical interventions).

People can become aware that they are transgender at any age. Some can trace their feelings back to early childhood. Some may even be born transgender. However, others realize it much later in life. They may try to repress or change these feelings, but it is often not possible to do so.

Transgender people also experience gender dysphoria, which is a feeling of distress or discomfort when they live as their preferred gender. It can be triggered by a number of things, including being referred to as the wrong gender or having their sex masked. It can also be triggered by hormone therapy, surgery, and being misgendered.