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Trans-rights protestors in front of the Trump White House, 2017.
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Spectra and binaries
Every day you're seeing our existence debated. Transgender people are so very real.
Elliot PageWikipedia

Transgender is an umbrella adjective describing people whose gender is other than the one they were declared to be at the time of their birth. Under the umbrella are trans men, trans women, bigender people, those of a third gender, those who don't identify with any gender, and many more.

Different types

To be absolutely precise, transgender is an adjective describing people who identify with a gender different from their assigned sex at birth, which includes genders within and outside the gender binary, in roughly equal proportions.[citation needed] In the past, transsexual was an adjective generally reserved for people who have physically transitioned to living with a different gender & sex than was assumed at birth, or who desire to do so. However, it is considered outdated and offensive by most trans people due to its dehumanising usage and how its often exclusionary (to non-op and nonbinary people). Almost everyone just uses the word transgender nowadays, and it is what people should use for trans people unless told otherwise by them. Crossdressers are not trans because they do not consider themselves a gender different to that assigned at birth, they just enjoy presenting as one.

Transgender people can be of any sexual orientation. A trans person can identify as straight, gay, bisexual, asexual, or anything.

While non-binary people do not identify as the gender they were assigned at birth, there is no consensus on whether or not non-binary people are ipso facto transgender.[1] An individual non-binary person may or may not identify as transgender.

Intersexuality, like sexual orientation, is also a concept related to, but independent of, transgender identity. An intersex person, assigned female at birth, who remains within the female gender role and identifies as female is cisgender (but is still considered a member of LGBTI+ community); an intersex person, assigned male at birth, who identifies with a third gender may be transgender.


See the main article on this topic: Gender transition

Transitioning is the modification of one's body and/or social role to better represent one's gender identity. Medically speaking, trans people may take hormones, undergo genital/facial reconstruction, and opt for cosmetic procedures to correct their primary and secondary sex characteristics.

HRT (hormone replacement therapy) is one of the most common medical transitions for trans people. The goal of HRT is for the change in hormones to produce a change in secondary sex characteristics. Transfeminine people transitioning may take estrogen, progestogen, or antiandrogens, while transmasculine people transitioning may take androgens, particularly testosterone. A transitioning person may also take a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) modulator. Young people who have not completed puberty yet may take puberty blockers, which postpone the puberty process, in hopes of giving them the opportunity to explore their identity further.[2] Contrary to some claims, puberty blockers are considered completely safe.[3]

Genital reconstruction, also known as gender confirmation surgery or gender reassignment surgery, was pioneered in the early 20th century. It is colloquially called "bottom surgery", as it concerns the bottom half of the body. The construction of a neovagina is called vaginoplasty, while the construction of a penis is called phalloplasty. Many transmasculine people seek to get a mastectomy (the removal of breasts), which is often called "top surgery".

Not all trans people want to undergo all procedures. A "non-op" trans person is a person who chooses not to undergo these kinds of surgeries. This is distinct from "pre-op", which generally describes a trans person who intends to seek such procedures in the future. Non-op trans people often still take hormones, because their secondary sex characteristics may be the source of dysphoria. For example, transmasculine people can opt to wear a binder (a garment that hides the breasts), and transfeminine people can wear breast forms. This may come regardless of when or if medical transition is sought.

Trans people typically also socially transition. Social transitioning is the process of transitioning in public and personal life. This may include changing their clothes, makeup, or hair, or using different names or pronouns. Some trans people change their name or seek to change the gender that appears on legal documents. It is considered extremely offensive to misgender a transgender person, which is to refer to them by the wrong pronouns or gender. It is also extremely offensive to deadname a transgender person, which is to refer to them by a pre-transition name they no longer use.

On the chance that someone who is transitioning decides that they don't want to transition at a given time, they may choose to detransition.[note 1][4] Detransition usually sees the person stopping medical and social transitions, and may involve efforts to reverse the effects of medical transition. This may be caused by a range of factors, such as external pressure from family, the experience of transphobia, or further exploration and/or change of their gender identity.[5]

Brain science

Neuroscience studies of trans people increasingly suggest that gender identity is a biological phenomenon rather than a purely psychological one, as transgender individuals' brains have key structural differences, even before beginning hormone replacement therapy.[6][7] More precisely, tensor imaging studies suggest that while much of the brain structure of a transgender person matches their "biological sex", certain sections of the transgender brain may contain elements that are closer to the "biologically opposite sex".[8][9]

As for what causes this? Scientists don't have a clear consensus, but the prevailing theory is that during development, a number of extremely complex systems are at play as the fetus grows, and something interferes with the whole process. Genes play a role, but only in the chance of developing along certain paths rather than defining those paths. Just as residual testosterone in the mother's womb appears to alter a developing fetus's future sexuality,[10] various health conditions of the mother can impact the chance of a fetus developing a different brain structure. What's more, it appears that endocrine disrupting chemicals such as BPA (which is found everywhere these days) cause the "feminization" of male fetal brains.[11] It's not unlikely that the rates of gender dysphoria have actually increased in recent years rather than just becoming more visible, due to our obsession with plastics and herbicides.[citation needed]

A 2016 review found that: "Untreated MtFs and FtMs who have an early onset of their gender dysphoria and are sexually oriented to persons of their natal sex show a distinctive brain morphology, reflecting a brain phenotype. These phenotypes are different from those of heterosexual males or females; the differences affect the right hemisphere and cortical structures underlying body perception." This is separate from the effects on brain chemistry of treatment with sex hormones, which causes "dramatic effects on the gray and white matter after short- to medium-term treatments but the long-term effects on the brain require evaluation".[12] This indicates a biological basis without anything as reductive as having a male brain in a female body.

Religious criticism

See the main article on this topic: Transphobia § Among fundamentalist Christians

The American Religious right criticises transgender people regularly, often while remaining willfully ignorant about what being transgender is really like.[13] The basic idea is that God has personally assigned everyone's sex (and with it their gender), and deviating from that is against God's plan. Thankfully, far from all Christians follow this restrictive teaching, and many more liberal Christian groups accept and welcome transgender people as the gender they are.

Unhappiness suffered by people under religious pressure to conform to a gender they feel does not suit them is typically either ignored or seen as a result of fallen human nature.[14]

Pope Francis has criticised transgender people, claiming that being transgender "goes against God" and that increasing social acceptance of transgender people "negates traditional God-given values".[15] On the related topic of transgender people, Roman Catholic archbishop of San Francisco, Salvatore Cordileone, also criticised Caitlyn Jenner's gender reassignment, motivating this with the tautological truth that "people are born either male or female".[14]

Controversy over access to public toilets

See the main article on this topic: Transphobia and public restrooms
This man was assigned female at birth. According to some people, he should be made to use the women's bathroom.

When a person was assigned one gender at birth but presents as the other, a problem arises about use of public toilets — or what Americans unaccountably call bathrooms despite the universal lack of a bath in such facilities.

Some men protest that they don't want women dressed like men peeing alongside them in their toilets, ignoring the fact that such people, many of whom do not have the right equipment (many trans men do not undergo genital surgery, as the process is long and the results often unsatisfactory), and would not necessarily use urinals anyway but (and certainly already do) pee in private stalls. However, some trans men do use devices known as packers, which simulate a penis.

Women protesting the converse have a similar position, in that men posing as women could have sinister, exploitative or even illegal reasons for gaining access to toilets labeled Women. However, legislation is probably not a strong deterrent in this case.[16]

Oddly, neither group complains about gay or bi men/women using the same facilities as them. This is a source of great puzzlement to trans people.

In the USA, state laws have been notably divided on the issue. Several states mandate that people must use the facilities that match the gender on their birth certificates. The standard-bearer for this extreme point of view is the State of North Carolina, which passed a so-called "bathroom bill" in March 2016, in a whirlwind legislative session that saw Democrats walking out in protest.[17] At the other extreme, the megastore Target created a furor in April 2016 by declaring that its customers could freely choose which toilet to use.[18] The Cooper Union, a small New York City university, also took an extreme position in the same month by removing all gender-specific signs from its toilets. The facilities that were formerly "Men's" were changed to “urinals and stalls", while former women’s rooms now carry the label "stalls only".[19][20]

Coming as it did in the midst of an unusually contentious election primary season, this issue attained political "hot button" status very rapidly. There is no federal law on the issue, but in May 2016 the Justice Department declared that North Carolina's "bathroom bill" violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964[21] and the White House sent a directive to all public schools requiring them to allow transgender students to use toilets matching their gender identity.[22] Eleven US States filed a lawsuit challenging the directive.[23] On 18 May, a declared "International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia", the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, loudly dissented and signaled that his state will be the next North Carolina. Abbott tweeted "JFK wanted to send a man to the moon. Obama wants to send a man to the women's restroom." At the GOP's state convention, he added, "I want you to know, I am working with the governor of North Carolina, and we are going to fight back."[24] In a further development, on 20 May, a bill was introduced in the Oklahoma State Legislature urging the state's congressional delegation to start an effort to impeach President Barack Obama over the issue.[25] There was no official reaction from the White House, but pedestrians on Pennsylvania Avenue later that day could have sworn they heard laughter coming from the Oval Office.

Several further legal maneuvers[26][27][28] were made moot in February 2017 when President Donald Trump rescinded the Obama directive, arguing that the matter was not a federal concern.[29]

Legal protections and status

Legal protections for trans people are controversial and depend on the area. In the US, 30 states still allow businesses to fire or evict people because of their gender identity. 31 states allow businesses to refuse service to trans people. 37 states still allow trans people to be denied credit.[30] All 50 states allow name changes for trans people, as well as gender changes on driver's license. However, the requirements for a gender change depend on the state. Some may require sex reassignment surgery, while others only require a doctor's or psychologist's note. Some states even require a medical note for a name change.

Health issues

A Dutch study of 1100 young people found that transgender youth who received gender-affirming puberty blockers were significantly less likely to have emotional problems and suicidal thoughts than those who did not receive puberty blockers. The trans youth who received puberty blockers were similar to cisgender youth as far as mental health.[31][32] Trans people who receive gender-affirming surgery show massively reduced levels of self harm such as smoking and suicidal thoughts.[33] A study of 8000 transgender patients found that only 1% regretted having gender-affirming surgeries.[31][34]

Notable transgender people

Days of significance

  • November 20th: Trans Day of Remembrance (TDOR). The day was dedicated in 1999 in honor of a trans woman named Rita Hester, who was murdered that day. It serves to commemorate the transgender people who are lost every year to murder and suicide. The seven days before the event are transgender awareness week.[42]
  • March 31st: International Trans Day of Visibility (TDOV). This day celebrates all trans people, both living and dead.[43]
  • December 28th: Trans Youth Awareness Day. Anniversary of Leelah Alcorn's death.[44]



See also

External links


  1. The existence of detransitioners has often been weaponized by transphobes, particularly TERFs. Detransition is a rare occurrence that is inflated by some bad actors. However, it is a real thing that should be respected and supported.


  1. Are Non-Binary People Trans?. Duncan, Tracey Anne. Mic. October 26, 2021.
  6. "Male-to-Female Transsexuals Have Female Neuron Numbers in a Limbic Nucleus", The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, May 2000.
  7. Jessica Hamzelou, "Transsexual differences caught on brain scan", New Scientist, 26 January 2011.
  8. Guillamon; Junque; Gómez (2016). "A Review of the Status of Brain Structure Research in Transsexualism". Archives of Sex Behaviour 45: 1615-1648. 
  10. Prenatal endocrine influences on sexual orientation and on sexually differentiated childhood behavior
  11. Adverse effects of bisphenol A on male reproductive function
  12. A Review of the Status of Brain Structure Research in Transsexualism, Antonio Guillamon, Carme Junque and Esther Gómez-Gil. Arch Sex Behav. 2016; 45: 1615–1648. Published online 2016 Jun 2. doi: 10.1007/s10508-016-0768-5
  13. The Religious Right comments on the Transgender Workplace Discrimination Hearings
  14. 14.0 14.1 The Real Christian Debate on Transgender Identity
  15. Pope Francis Calls Transgender People An “Annihilation of Man As Image of God”
  16. On 19 May 2016, on The Daily Show, Trevor Noah mocked the protesters, pointing out the absurdity of imagining perverts waiting for the law to legitimize their activity.
  17. North Carolina Bans Local Anti-Discrimination Policies Dave Phillips in New York Times, 23 March 2016. The bill was enacted in swift response to an ordinance approved by the City of Charlotte in February, asserting the contrary position.
  18. Target takes stand on transgender bathroom controversy Robert Mclean in CNN Money, 20 April 2016. The statement read We welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity.
  19. New York College Decides To Make ALL Bathrooms Gender-Neutral Blake Neff in Daily Caller, 1 April 2016
  20. No More Men's or Women's Rooms Josh Logue in Inside Higher Ed, 31 March 2016. "I cannot change the outside world and how it treats transgender and gender-nonconforming people, but I can change the Cooper Union environment to help everyone feel safe when they are inside our buildings." (said Bill Mea, Acting President)
  21. Justice Department says North Carolina anti-LGBT law violates Civil Rights Act Matthew Teague in The Guardian, 4 May 2016
  22. U.S. Directs Public Schools to Allow Transgender Access to Restrooms Julie Herschfeld and Matt Apuzzo in New York Times, 12 May 2016. The directive was not legally binding, but it included an implied penalty for non-compliance in terms of reduced or terminated federal subsidies. The State of Texas stands to lose $10 billion.
  23. Eleven US states oppose transgender schools edict --BBC, 25 May
  24. Texas poised to be the next bathroom battleground in transgender fight Tom Dart in The Guardian, 18 May 2016
  25. Some in Oklahoma statehouse urge Obama impeachment over bathroom rule --Heide Brandes in Reuter's, 20 May 2016 (retrieved 23 May)
  26. Forth Worth judge blocks Obama transgender guidelines --Texas Tribune , WFAA 8:43 AM. CDT August 22, 2016
  27. Supreme Court to hear transgender school bathroom case --BBC News, 28 October 2016
  28. HB2 law: North Carolina to repeal 'bathroom bill' --BBC, 19 December 2016
  29. Trump Rescinds Rules on Bathrooms for Transgender Students --New York Times, 22 February 2017
  31. 31.0 31.1 Gender-affirming care improves mental health for transgender youth: Laws restricting this treatment may harm an already vulnerable community, researchers say by Maria Temming (August 26, 2021 at 1:00 pm) Science News.
  32. Psychological Functioning in Transgender Adolescents Before and After Gender-Affirmative Care Compared With Cisgender General Population Peers by Anna I.R. van der Miesen et al. (2020) Journal of Adolescent Health 66(6):699-704. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2019.12.018.
  33. Association Between Gender-Affirming Surgeries and Mental Health Outcomes by Anthony Almazan and Alex Keuroghlian, April 28 2021
  34. Regret after Gender-affirmation Surgery: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Prevalence by Valeria P. Bustos et al. (2021) Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 9(3):e3477. doi:10.1097/GOX.0000000000003477.
  36. (examine what he was quoted as saying to see the issue)
  37. (linking to transing-your-kids scare articles that misgender trans people)
  38. (basically an attack helicopter "joke")
  39. (openly validating TERF ideology)
  40. (more promotion of exclusion)
  41. Starcraft 2: Transgender gamer quietly wins, in more ways than one. GlobalPost. July 16, 2012.