Transgender (often shortened to trans) is a term referring to people who do not identify as the gender assigned to them at birth. It commonly refers to men who were assigned female at birth (trans men), and women who were assigned male at birth (trans women), these examples being known as binary trans people. All non-binary people are also inherently included under the term trans, because their gender is not what was assigned to them at birth. Although, some non-binary people choose not to identify as trans.
Transgender is not a gender identity on its own, rather it is a gender modality, showing that there is a difference between one's assigned gender at birth and one's actual gender.
The opposite of transgender is cisgender.
When writing about trans people, the word "trans" should be used as an adjective. One should not write "transwoman" or "trans-woman", but should rather write "trans woman", where trans is used as adjective to describe a category of women in this case.
Sometimes trans is written as trans+ or trans*. The asterisk or plus sign are meant to include all transgender people (trans/non-binary people) as well as people who may be associated with the trans community, such as drag queens and crossdressers. Many drag queens/crossdressers are trans or non-binary, and use drag as a way to explore their gender identity, however performing drag does not inherently make one trans or associated with the trans community, which is why this spelling is not commonly used.
Transgender vs. Transsexual
Transsexual is an older term originating in the medical and psychological communities. It was previously used interchangeably with transgender, and is still used by some older trans people. In the modern day transsexual or transsex can also be used to refer to people who have changed- or seek to change- their bodies through medical interventions, such as hormones and/or surgeries. Currently most people prefer the word transgender, as transgender is less medicalized and is more inclusive of people who have not, or do not want to medically transition.
Many transgender people experience dysphoria, a feeling of discomfort or self hatred stemming from a disconnect between their internal sense of gender and their outward appearance, their bodies, or how others perceive them. Dysphoria can range in intensity, ranging from severe, to mild, to none at all. Sources of dysphoria can be different for everyone, and can sometimes change over the course of one's life.
Passing is a term used by trans people to describe their appearance, and whether they can be mistaken for a cisgender person. For example a trans woman would "pass" when people assume she is a cisgender woman.
Transitioning refers to the act of beginning to live as one's actual gender, rather than the gender they were thought to be at birth. Transitioning can be social and medical. Social transitioning typically involves going by one's chosen name, pronouns, and possibly changing one's clothes, hair, and other parts of one's appearance to present as one's gender. Medical transitioning is the act of changing one's body to be closer to one's desired body. It can include hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and surgeries. Both of these things can help with dysphoria.
Not all trans people choose to fully transition. Some may socially transition, but do not medically transition. Some may undergo certain aspects of transitioning but not others, for example they undergo HRT, but not surgery, or they may go by a different name and pronouns, but they may still dress similar to their assigned gender at birth, because they are gender non-conforming.
A trans person's dead name is the name that they were given by their parents when they were born. Most trans people choose to go by a different name as a part of their transition. Using one's deadname intentionally when one knows their real name is called "deadnaming".
Transmasculine, or trans masc people are men, men-aligned people, or masculine aligned people who were assigned female at birth (AFAB). Trans masc people (mostly for binary trans men) might also be called FtM, F2M (female to male). Some transmasculine identities include:
- Trans men.
- Demiboys who are AFAB.
- Proxvirs who are AFAB.
- AFAB genderfluid people who are often masculine.
- Solarians who are AFAB.
- Neptunians who are AFAB.
- Juparians who are AFAB.
- Other AFAB non-binary people who strongly identify with masculinity.
Many trans men and transmasculine people will try to present in a traditionally masculine way. This can include having short hair and wearing traditionally masculine clothes. Some will wear packers to give the feeling and appearance of having a penis. Many will wear binders to make their chest flat, however binding can be dangerous and can lead to deformation of the rib cage, especially if done incorrectly or for long periods of time.
Medical transition typically involves taking testosterone injections, or testosterone gel. Surgical elements can include a mastectomy to remove breasts (known as top surgery), and a metoidioplasty and/or phalloplasty to create a penis (known as bottom surgery). It is also not uncommon for trans masc people to have a hysterectomy (removal or the uterus), oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries), or both.
A transmasculine person may do all, some, or none of these things. Some may not feel a need to transition and some may be unable to transition due to medical reasons.
Transfeminine or trans fem people are women, women-aligned, or feminine aligned people who were assigned male at birth (AMAB). Transfeminine people (mostly for binary trans women) might also be called MtF or M2F (male to female). Some transfeminine identities include:
- Trans women.
- Demigirls who are AMAB.
- Juxeras who are AMAB.
- AMAB genderfluid people who are often feminine.
- Lunarians who are AMAB.
- Venusians who are AMAB.
- Lunettians who are AMAB.
- Other AMAB non-binary people who identify strongly with femininity.
Many trans women and transfeminine people will try to present in a traditionally feminine way. This can include having long hair, wearing traditionally feminine clothes, and wearing makeup. They may wear breast forms to give the appearance of breasts. Some will tuck, which is the act of pushing the testicles back into the body and pushing or taping the penis back, to get rid of the bulge created by the penis. This can be dangerous to do for extended amounts of time, and it may be impossible for some trans fem people as their body might not allow them to fully push their testicles back into their body.
Medical transition typically involves taking testosterone blocking medication and estrogen, in the form of pills, injections, or gel. Surgical elements can include a vaginoplasty to create a vagina, and sometimes breast implants. Breast implants are sometimes not necessary though, as estrogen will cause breast growth. Some trans feminine people will get facial feminization surgery and many will undergo laser hair removal.
A transfeminine person may do all, some, or none of these things. Some may not feel a need to transition and some may be unable to transition due to medical reasons.
Transneutral people are neutral-aligned non-binary people. They could have been assigned female at birth or assigned male at birth. Trans neutral people might also be called MtN/M2N (male to neutral) or FtN/F2N (female to neutral) depending on their assigned gender at birth. Some transneutral identities include:
- Neutrois people.
- Agender people.
- Deminonbinary people.
- Genderfluid people who are often neutral.
- Maverique people.
- Other nonbinary people who identify as neither feminine or masculine.
Many transneutral people will try to present in a way that is either a combination of both masculine and feminine, or in a way that is gender neutral. What this looks like commonly depends on one's assigned gender at birth. They may wear breast forms or binders to give the appearance of breasts or flat chests. Some will tuck, or simulate the bulge created by the penis via packing.
Medical transition can involve element of transfeminine or transmasculine procedures, such as vaginoplasty, phalloplasty, breast implants, breast removals, and hormones, depending on one's assigned gender at birth. Although, many transneutral people choose to not undergo these transitions, or only undergo some of them.
Flag and Symbols
The transgender flag was designed by trans woman Monica Helms in 1999 and was first shown in a pride parade in Phoenix, Arizona, in 2000. The flag has two blue stripes, the traditional color for baby boys, two pink stripes, the traditional color for baby girls, and a white stripe, representing non-binary, transitioning, and intersex individuals. The most common transgender symbol is a mix of the female (Venus) symbol, male (Mars) symbol, and the androgyne (Venus and Mars mixed) symbol. This symbol was designed in the early 1990s by Holly Boswell, Wendy Parker, and Nancy R. Nangeroni.
There are, still, many variations on the transgender flag exist and have been created throughout the years. The black transgender flag was created by trans activist and writer Raquel Willis as a symbolic show of the level of violence towards those that are both people of colour and identify as transgender as a way to spread awareness and to allow trans people of colour to be prideful. It was first used in the United States of America in 2015 in Black Trans Liberation Tuesday.
Another example of a variation of the transgender flag was "The Trans Flag", created by graphic designer Michelle Lindsay in Ottawa, Canada. This flag incorporates sunset fuscia to represent female, ocean blue to represent male, and has the unicode transgender symbol overlaid in white to represent the trans community as a whole. The colours are bold to represent confidence and pride with the sunset and ocean colours representing the unlimited horizons of the trans movement. This flag was first used in 2010 in Ottawa for the Trans Day of Remembrance and is raised yearly. This flag has also been seen in a number of pride protests.
There is also the Israeli transgender and genderqueer pride flag, consisting of a bright, neon green, base that has been defaced with the transgender symbol. This flag has been used, along with its lesser known base of a black base with a neon green symbol, in pride protests across Israel. The exact creator is unknown.
In 1999, Johnathan Andrew, aka "Captain John" created a flag for the trans community which he published on his FtM (Female to Male transgender) website called "Adventures in Boyland" in Oakland, California. The pink represents female identities, the blue represents male identities, and the white stripes represent the transition between those identities. Emblazoned on the top left corner of the flag is a combination of the Venus (♀) and Mars (♂) symbols (⚥). The purple within this symbol represents the merging of the male and female identities to incorporate those that are neither female nor male transgender or are a mix of both, now perceived to be a representation of the non-binary community.
Another flag was coined by Cryptocrew at Hayden000s request on January 16th of 2021 and was first published on a post one day later. Dark blue is for transgender men, blueish purple is for transmasculine people, white is for multigenders/fluid genders, yellow is for xenic and outherine transgender people, dark green is for agender/genderless transgender people purple is for androgynous/neutral transgender people, and pink is for transfeminine people, dark red is for transgender women. The caterpillar and butterfly with the original transgender colors represent the transition to ones true self, whether socially or physically.