Presented to you as I presented them to my students in Introduction to Queer Studies.
- Just as sex and gender are separate from each other and separate from sexual orientation, being cisgender (i.e., cis) or trans is totally separate from sexual orientation. A trans woman is a woman and can be asexual, bisexual, lesbian, heterosexual, pansexual, etc.
- Someone who is a trans man, for example, is usually best seen as someone who was always a man. (But gender/sex is also fluid for some.) This would be someone who a doctor or nurse announced as “it’s a girl” upon birth.
- Estimates suggest that 1-2 percent of the population is trans (me talking here: it’s probably MUCH higher, when the full spectrum is acknowledged).
- Cis refers to people who identify with their assigned sex and gender at birth. If you’re not trans, you are usually cis and have cis privilege.
- Trans identities fall on spectrums; “trans” is an umbrella term. Trans people are those who are often (“this is a love story between a woman and her body”) uncomfortable with their (birth-)assigned sex and/or (birth-)assigned gender. Trans people are queer people by definition.
- Drag performances/performers are separate from trans and/or cis.
- Regardless of being cis or trans, an individual’s biological sex changes over time and according to one’s activities, surroundings, and environment. e.g., Men who take care of children will be biologically more “female.” Women in the Army will be biologically more “male.”
- Biological sex, as discussed earlier in the semester, is defined by over a dozen different factors that all exist on a spectrum. So-called “men” and “women” and others have far more in common than not.
- Trans identities can include people who are “transgender” — androgynous (male and female gender presentations), genderqueer (neither male or female presentations and/or identities and/or rejects binaries of gender), etc. AND include people who are “transsexual” — people who do not identify with their assigned sex, who feel they are in the wrong body, and typically seek medical treatment. People who are intersex (both more distinctly male and female biological parts) are also part of the trans spectrum.
- For some trans people elements of social mores are sometimes, partly, involved in their identity – society doesn’t allow for “easy” movement around the gender binary. For instance, there would be less trans people, per se, if people could simply live and dress, etc., as they wanted to without fear of violence and death. Additionally, just as people are not “born” gay, people are not “born” trans. But, it’s ALWAYS about much more than clothes.
- Some trans(sexual) people have surgery, some don’t. There are many different types of surgery a trans person may want to have. There are many different medications available to trans people, especially estrogen and testosterone. Comments about any person’s ability to “pass” or “look like” any given gender or sex are usually inappropriate.
- More than other people, trans (and genderqueer) people tend to have conflicted relationships with pronouns (“he,” “she,” as well as “they,” “ze,” etc.) and with their “birth name(s),” “dead name(s),” and/or “chosen name(s).”
- Many, but not all, trans people and allies find the term “transgendered” to be offensive – a few say it is more accurate. Some people find “transsexual” to also be offensive.
- Just as aspects of the early women’s movement excluded lesbian women (remember the Radicalesbians?), trans women were also excluded. Adrienne Rich, a theorist we’ve discussed, was transphobic. She thought that transwomen appropriated the identity and body of “real women.”
- Trans people frequently have at least some internalized transphobia, just as non-heterosexual people have some internalized homophobia.
- Trans people, according to the DSM, are considered to have a “mental disorder” – “gender dysphoria” specifically. Although, the DSM now provides ways to help trans people seek desired medical treatments.
Dr. Andrew Joseph Pegoda
Categories: Thoughts and Perspectives