Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming (GNC) Individuals are people who do not identify with their sex assigned at birth. This means that whatever their assigned sex is, whether it be male, female, or something else, they do not identify with what non LGBTQ+ people usually consider the corresponding part of the gender identity spectrum.
Important Things To Know About Transgender People
Some transgender people identify as male or female, and some identify as genderqueer, nonbinary, agender, or somewhere else on or outside of the spectrum.
Some transgender individuals take hormones and have surgery as part of their transition, and some don’t.
Some choose to openly identify as transgender, while others simply identify as men or women.
What’s the gender spectrum?
“The term gender spectrum is a way of describing gender without conforming to the gender binary. It denotes gender as a continuum that includes male and female, but without establishing them as absolutes or polar opposites. The view of gender as a spectrum allows for the inclusion of identities besides male and female-- specifically, it allows for the inclusion of intersex people, nonbinary gender identities, and nonbinary gender expressions.” - The Queer Dictionary
What’s the difference between sex, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, and romantic orientation?
Sex- Your sex assigned at birth which we define by identifying genitalia as either male or female.
Gender- Where you fall on the gender spectrum.
Sexual orientation- Who you are attracted to sexually
Romantic orientation- Who you are attracted to romantically
Gender expression- What gender you present as
These 5 things exist on completely separate spectrums. This means that your sex does not define your gender, your gender does not define your prefered gender expression, and your gender roles do not define your sexual or romantic orientation. Someone could be biologically female, gender identify as male, and still present female. Someone could be biologically male, present female and still identify as male. You could be biological male who presents female and is attracted to females.
What do these things mean about the sexuality of others?
If someone has always been attracted to women their whole life and never thought about it much and then their partner comes out as being FTM (Female to male) transgender, what does that mean about their sexuality?
I would like to start by saying that this scenario does not change the sexuality of the person, but that how they respond depends on their exact sexuality. Sexuality, just like a person’s identity, include sex, gender, and gender expression on completely separate spectrums. When we hear “I am attracted to men”, we assume that they mean “I am attracted to people who are born completely male, present male, fall into male gender roles, and identify as male”. But sexuality is as non binary as gender. Someone could be attracted to men because they like people who are masculine and would not be okay dating a female-presenting man, but would be okay dating a masculine-presenting girl.
Language around transgender individuals
In the situation I described earlier in which someone comes out as FTM, which terms and phrases are appropriate to use?
#1 Use male pronouns. If someone identifies male, use he/him/his pronouns. It is important to always respect peoples pronouns.
#2 Don’t say “When you were a girl” or “Before you were a boy”. Coming out does not mean their gender has changed, it means they have recently realized or have just told you.
#3 Do not say they are “a transgender”, say “They’re transgender” or “A transgender person”. It’s also important to remember that some transgender people do not identify as being transgender and are not comfortable being identified as anything but their gender identity.
#4 Remember that the word “transgender” does not describe or imply transitioning (Surgery). A person is the gender they identify as regardless surgery, and does not need surgery to be a “real man” or a “real woman”.
Why you should use people’s prefered pronouns even if you don’t believe they are transgender
Pronouns are not about “truth” or identifying them “correctly” to others. It is a matter of respect. If someone does not want to be called “she” you should listen to them because they are a human being who deserves to be comfortable. Calling someone by incorrect pronouns can cause dysphoria and anxiety. It is harmful and doing so intentionally is malicious. It is not your place to tell someone who they are or to invalidate their identity.
“If we allow anyone to go into any bathroom people will be assaulted”
In march of 2017, 19 states in the US (Including oregon) passed laws allowing individuals to enter whichever bathroom they choose and there has been no increase in the number of assaults in public facilities. Also, a study done by UCLA found that 70% of GNC individuals had been verbally harassed, physically assaulted, or denied access to public restrooms. On top of all that, only 30% of sexual assaults are committed by strangers.
“Being transgender is just a mental condition and catering to it is harmful”
We have proven that there is more harm in restricting people’s gender identities than in letting them express themselves. This harm comes in the form of mental disorders that are comorbid with dysphoria and and drastically higher rates of suicide (35%-50%) in GNC individuals. The University of Wisconsin showed that children prefer gender-neutral toys to gendered toys, which supports the fact that gender is mostly a societal construct and not a binary system. GNC people are much more likely to be sexually or physically assaulted than the average non-LGBTQ+ person. These are people just like anyone else and they deserve our respect and support.