Key Facts About Trans People

  • Cis (i.e., cisgender) 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.
  • A trans man, for example, is usually best seen as someone who was always a man, but we must be cautious of strategic essentialism and remember sex/gender is fluid. A trans man would be someone welcomed as “it’s a girl” at birth (AFAB).
  • Regardless of being cis or trans, an individual’s biological sex changes over time and according to one’s activities, surroundings, and environments. e.g., Men who take care of children will be biologically more “female.” Women in the army will be biologically more “male.”
  • Biological sex 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.
  • Just as sex and gender are separate from each other and separate from sexual orientation, being cis or trans is totally separate from sexual orientation. A trans woman is a woman and can be asexual, bisexual, lesbian, heterosexual, pansexual, etc. Additionally, a cishet woman dating/etc. a (trans)man is still a cishet woman.
  • Drag performances/performers are separate from trans and/or cis.
  • Estimates suggest that AT LEAST 1-2 percent of the population is trans. That’s AT LEAST 1 in 50 people.
  • Trans identities fall on spectrums; “trans” is an umbrella term. Trans people are those who are often (but not always “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, at least academically speaking, and can include androgynous (male and female gender presentations), genderqueer / nonbinary (neither male or female presentations and/or identities and/or rejects binaries of gender), transsexual (trans people who medically transition), and intersex (biological sex outside of standard binary-based deviation).
  • The cis/trans binary needs to be problematized.
  • Trans people and allies often find “transgendered” to be offensive – a few say it is more accurate than “transgender.” Some people find “transsexual” to also be offensive. “Male” and especially “female” are often offensive terms, too.
  • 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 spectrum. There would be less trans people, per se, if people could simply live and dress, etc., as they wanted to without fear of violence/death. But, it’s ALWAYS about much more than clothes.
  • Just as there have not always been gay people, there have not always been trans people. Additionally, just as people are not “born” gay, people are not “born” trans. Queer Studies rejections notions of biological and social essentialism.
  • There are many different types of surgery a trans person may want to have: “top” and “bottom” being most common. (People overlook that cis people too take hormones and get cosmetic surgery to achieve desired looks.) There are many different medications available to trans people, especially estrogen and testosterone. Some trans people don’t want either.
  • Comments about any person’s ability to “pass” or “look like” any given sex/gender are usually inappropriate. Medically transitioning, if desired, and socially transitioning are an on-going processes. Even if not realized, everyone has met and seen trans people. There is no way to tell if someone is trans. (Don’t say-“I would have never know you are trans”) Also, if a person identifies as trans, they “look like” a trans person, per se. Just as any gay person “looks like” a gay person.
  • More than others, trans (and genderqueer) people tend to have conflicted relationships with pronouns (“he,” “she,” “they,” plus “ze” and other neopronouns) and with “dead name(s)” / “dead pronoun(s)” and “chosen name(s).”
  • Just as aspects of the early women’s movement excluded lesbian women (e.g., Radicalesbians), trans women were also excluded. Adrienne Rich, an important queer theorist, was transphobic. She thought that transwomen appropriated the identity and body of “real women.” TERFs continue to “hate against” trans people.
  • Trans people typically have at least some internalized transphobia, just as non-heterosexual people have internalized homophobia. Such might be feelings of not “looking” “masculine” or “feminine” “enough” or “in the right way.”
  • Trans people, according to the DSM, are considered to have a “mental disorder”—gender dysphoria. Although, the DSM now provides ways to help trans people seek desired medical treatments. And trans people are not mentally ill.
  • A trans person’s intersectionality affects positionality. Trans people with the “permission,” opportunity, and resources to live as they desire live longer, happier lives.
  • We must always be cautious unnecessarily bringing up topics of “male” and “female” because stereotype threat is real. Focusing on individuals is far better.

Dr. Andrew Joseph Pegoda



Categories: Thoughts and Perspectives

Tags: , , , ,

8 replies

  1. an individual’s biological sex changes over time and according to one’s activities
    That’s an interesting definition of ‘biological sex’ that I think needs some explication.
    Also I don’t know what distinction you’re making here:
    Many, but not all, trans people find the term “transgendered” to be offensive. Some prefer “transgendered.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reading and commenting!

      The term “transgendered” is very controversial. Some love it. Some hate it. Some don’t have an opinion. It has to do with the “ed” and the implications, grammatically and culturally, depending on one’s point-of-view.

      Regarding: sex changing – there’s lots of good studies about that. I’ve blogged about this theme before, too. Basically, though, yes, your biological sex changes over time–with age, activity, environment, etc. It’s a big theme that I have an entire lesson on. It would also apply to someone who had a breast removed because of cancer, their biological sex changes. Levels of estrogen and/or testosterone change all the time.

      Like

  2. Here’s a consideration toward understanding this… and this is science talking, not a bastardization of faith and science. Humans soley exist, like any other living thing, simply to procreate the species. That’s it, nothing more. Anything we humans do that gets in the way of that by nature of our evolved ability to reason, is in fact, a sexual deviation. This is NOT suggesting the idea that someone might be a sexual deviate in some societal judgment connotation. This means the scientific sense of having a “cerebral” inability (ie, desire) to complete the act of human reproduction. For example, anal sex is a sexual deviancy because it results in no procreation, irregardless of the fact that it can be a bi or hetero desire for pleasure. My whole point in mentioning this at all is this constant desire for political correctness to somehow recognize every single deviancy of man (or woman) right down to what term is acceptable and least offensive, as if it were some new political party. We are burying ourselves in social terms of acceptance to the point that it obscures some true mental health issues of people truly suffering not ONLY from gender identity issues but overlapping mental conflicts in social behavioral roles that end up consuming a person’s quality of life.
    It’s like.. we open our arms and say, “We realize human sexuality has its variances and we welcome your “preferences” (as if there were a choice) and we are one big happy human family of people… so pick out your identity term, we will pass laws to make sure you are equal to the rest of us.. and you can live happily ever after.” I dunno.. just my opinion that we are incorrectly “helping”.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah, thank you Dr. Pegoda for making what we thought was a simple defintion into something a lot more nuanced. But, like so many complex definitions in the past, Foucault’s pendulum will swing another way and all your definitions will change, only to reappear over the next x years, cycle length as yet to be determlined.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Evening! To me at least, that’s part of what makes studying/teaching identities so much fun and so fascinating…it’s always changing and evolving…it’s always a “mirror” of sorts vis-à-vis what else is going on (and not going on) in society. Thanks, as always, for commenting, Dr. Hyde!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Very informative and clarifying.

    Liked by 1 person

Trackbacks

  1. Biological Determinism and the Trans Debates: Gender, Sex, Race, and Ability – Without Ritual, Autonomous Negotiations
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