Key Facts About Trans People

Presented to you as I presented them to my students in Introduction to Queer Studies

  • 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.
  • Someone who is a trans man, for example, is usually best seen as someone who was always a man. (But sex/gender is also fluid for some.) This would be someone who a doctor or nurse announced as “it’s a girl” upon birth (AFAB).
  • 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 hetero cis woman dating/etc. a trans man is still a hetero cis woman.
  • 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).
  • Trans identities fall on spectrums; “trans” is an umbrella term. Trans people are those who are often (but not always remember “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.
  • 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 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. ANDinclude 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: “top” and “bottom” being most common. 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. Transitioning, if desired by the person in question, is an on-going process.
  • Even if not realized, everyone has meet and seen trans people. There is no way to tellif someone is trans. Also, if a person identifies as trans, they “look like a” trans person, per se.
  • 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, such as the 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 frequently have at least some internalized transphobia, just as non-heterosexual people have some internalized homophobia. Such might be feelings of not “looking” “masculine” or “feminine” “enough” or “in the right way,” for example.
  • 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. And trans people are not mentally ill.

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.


  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


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