by JESSICA MAHMOUD
Originally published on Color It Queer.
Transgender is an umbrella term for those individuals whose gender identity does not match with that assigned for their physical sex. It includes, among others, transmen, transwomen, genderqueer people, crossdressers, and drag queens/kings. In its general sense, it refers to anyone whose behavior or identity falls outside of stereotypical expectations for their gender. Transgender people may identify as straight, gay, bisexual, or some other sexual orientation. Sometimes shortened as trans.
There is so much to say about the history of the transgender community; it could probably be a blog in itself. However, since these posts are meant to be mostly the basics, I’m going to take information from the same text I’ve looked at for the past three posts. Here’s the lowdown:
Virginia Prince coined the term transgenderist in the mid-1980s, which designated those individuals who permanently changed their gender, but different from transvestite and transsexual. It wasn’t until the 1990s that transgender became an umbrella term, including people “who in so many different ways cross the socially normative gender lines” (Herbst 275).
Stereotypes of the Transgender Community
- All transgender people are gay (“You Can’t Tell Just by Looking”)
- All transgender people have sex-reassignment surgery (“You Can’t Tell Just by Looking”)
- Transgender people are mentally ill (“You Can’t Tell Just by Looking”)
- Transgender people hate their bodies (Everyday Feminism)
- All transgender people do drag (Everyday Feminism)
- All transgender people conform to binary genders
- All transgender people use hormones
- Transgender people are just pretending/doing it for attention
- Trans women are just men trying to invade women’s spaces (Trans Myths)
- There’s only one true way to be trans (Trans myths)
The Umbrella Terms
Since transgender is an umbrella term for many identities, here’s those terms defined:
Andryogyne- a person appearing and/or identifying as neither man nor women, presenting a gender either mixed or neutral.
Agender- a person without a gender. An agender individual’s body does not necessarily correspond with their lack of gender identity. Often, agender individuals are not concerned with their physical sex, but some may seek to look androgynous.
Cross dresser- an individual who dresses in the “opposite” gender clothing for a variety of reasons, sometimes for sexual pleasure. Crossdressing is not indicative of sexual orientation. This term replaces the sometimes pejorative term transvestite.
Drag king- a female-bodied individual who dresses in masculine or male-designated clothing. A Drag King’s crossdressing is usually on a part-time basis and many work as entertainers at LGBTQ or straight nightclubs.
Drag Queen- a male-bodied individual who wears female-designated or feminine clothing. Drag Queens usually cross-dress on a part-time basis and often perform in nightclubs by singing, dancing, or lip-syncing.
Gender Non-Conforming- a person who is either by nature or by choice does not conform to gender based expectations of society.
Genderqueer- a gender variant person whose gender identity is either male nor female, is between or beyond genders, or is some combination of genders. Individuals that identify as genderqueer often challenge gender stereotypes and the gender binary system.
Tranvestite- a dated term (now we often use crossdresser) referring to someone who dresses in clothing generally identified with the opposite gender/sex.
Transsexual- a term that is specific to trans people who have transitioned their sex through hormones and/or surgery. This term is sometimes perceived to be outdated or offensive to a person whose gender identity consistently differs from what is culturally associated with his/her biological sex at birth. (trans man or trans woman are often used instead)
Trans man- a person who was assigned female at birth, but who identifies as male. Some transmen may intend to undergo physical changes to align their body with their gender identity.
Trans woman- a person who was assigned male at birth, but who identifies as female. Some transwomen may intend to undergo physical changes to align their body with their gender identity.
**Please note: This is not a complete list and not everyone who identifies as the above identities also identifies within the transgender community**
For more information on the transgender community, check out this article.
Herbt, Philip H. Wimmin, Wimps, & Wallflowers: An Encyclopedia Dictionary of Gender and Sexual Orientation Bias in the United States. Yarmouth: Intercultural Press, Inc, 2001. Print.
Bronski, Michael, Pellegrini, Ann, & Amico, Michael. “You Can Tell Just By Looking” And 20 Other Myths About LGBT Life and People. Boston: Beacon Press, 2013. Print.
Everyday Feminism’s “Top 10 Myths About Transgender People”
Stop Homophobia’s “Trans Myths Busted by Wipe Out Transphobia”
Jessica Mahmoud is a Journalism major with a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer Studies minor. Her pronouns are she, her, hers, herself. As an aspiring activist, she hopes to use writing as an outlet to educate others.