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I'm not some third sex. There are some non-binary people who don't fit into male or female, but you don't describe all trans people in that way. Another pervasive point of misunderstanding is that trans people are all cross-dressers, drag queens, and drag kings. Drag queens are men, typically gay men, who dress like women for the purpose of entertainment. Be aware of the differences between transgender women, cross-dressers, and drag queens. Use the term preferred by the individual.

There's no denying that gender identity is an important part of everyone's life, but — just like with race, sex, and sexual orientation — no one wants to be stereotyped. Although genderqueer, nonbinary, and gender nonconformity are expressions often associated with sexual orientation — think stereotypes of flamboyant gay men or butch lesbians — they're not intertwined.

Gender nonconforming people don't express their genders in a way society expects them to. Some gender nonconforming people might be androgynous, meaning they don't readily exhibit traits that can easily identify them as men or women. Men who exhibit feminine traits and women who express masculine characteristics may also identify as gender nonconforming. Genderqueer and nonbinary people generally don't identify or express as men or women, sometimes adopting gender roles and traits outside society's typical expectations and other times taking elements from both masculinity and femininity.

Androgynous people can also fall into this category if they identify their gender as neither male nor female. There are some nuanced differences between the terms genderqueer and nonbinary, although they are frequently used interchangeably. Sometimes there is an overlap between transgender, gender nonconforming, genderqueer, and nonbinary communities. People might identify with all, some, or none of these concepts, even if they exhibit traits attributed to these three forms of identity and expression. There are dozens of ways people identify and express themselves, so these three concepts fall far short of the full realm of possibilities.

At that point [as a child in the s], there was no visibility whatsoever about trans issues. My parents just assumed I'm a very butch lesbian. A study from the TransYouth Project found that trans children as young as 5 years old respond to psychological gender-association tests, which evaluate how people view themselves within gender roles, as quickly and consistently as those who don't identify as trans. What can lead people at such a young age to know their gender identity? Many obstacles can make it difficult for people to come out until later in life.

The scientific community has increasingly come around to the evidence that it's very much possible for some people to identify with a gender different than the one assigned to them at birth without major problems. The American Psychiatric Association , for example, now recognizes that gender identity isn't inherently linked to other mental health problems: "Many transgender people do not experience their gender as distressing or disabling, which implies that identifying as transgender does not constitute a mental disorder.

For these individuals, the significant problem is finding affordable resources, such as counseling, hormone therapy, medical procedures, and the social support necessary to freely express their gender identity and minimize discrimination.


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Many other obstacles may lead to distress, including a lack of acceptance within society, direct or indirect experiences with discrimination, or assault. A similar shift occurred in the medical community with gays and lesbians in the s, when experts stopped considering homosexuality a mental illness.

As APA suggests, many obstacles — particularly discrimination and lack of knowledge about gender identity and expression — can make it difficult for trans, gender nonconforming, genderqueer, and nonbinary people to come out until later in life. Ziegler of California, realized what it means to be FTM, a term for a trans man that stands for "female to male," early in adulthood. I was like, what's FTM? I opened the book, and it changed my world. It blew my mind. Ever since, I knew it was a possibility. Ziegler's story demonstrates that trans people sometimes don't know how to identify when they're young, because they're never educated on gender identity or expression.

But if I understood what was going on earlier on in my life — for example, if schools taught about sexuality and gender identity — I would have transitioned so much sooner. It took me a while to really think about myself in that manner and be sure enough I was going to transition. While these stories provide a small glimpse into people's experiences, they show it's impossible to assume how and when people came to terms with their gender identity and expression.

Everyone's experience can vary.

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Yes, if only to show some of the more accurate and perhaps illustrative examples of trans people in media. In the past few years, shows like Transparent and Orange Is the New Black have put a spotlight on trans characters and raised awareness about some of the issues people in these communities often go through.

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The show, which won two Golden Globes , is perhaps the most nuanced look at a trans person on television. Here is a trailer for the first season:. These shows, while phenomenal in their own right, have also played a big role in pulling back the curtains on trans issues in mainstream media.

By focusing so much on trans people, the shows have introduced many Americans to a concept they may not have been familiar with in the past — much in the same way shows like Will and Grace , Queer as Folk , and Six Feet Under exposed Americans to gay and lesbian people. If there's any reasonable uncertainty, GLAAD says the best thing to do is directly ask what someone's gender identity is.

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Although it can be awkward for both parties, it's much better than the problems that can arise from not asking and making an assumption. And there's a good chance trans, gender nonconforming, genderqueer, and nonbinary people may be used to the question — and might even appreciate it, because it shows you don't want to misgender them. Misgendering is seen as an insult within LGBTQ communities because it characterizes people in a way they don't relate to.

What's worse, some opponents of LGBTQ rights purposely misgender people to show their disapproval of identifying or expressing gender in a way that doesn't heed traditional social standards. These subtle acts are viewed by many LGBTQ people as microaggressions , which, while not always overtly or purposely insulting, can act as a constant reminder to people that large segments of the population don't understand or approve of their personal identity.

Sometimes the problem is magnified by limitations in the English language, which relies heavily on gendered pronouns. LGBTQ communities have tried to propose various gender-neutral pronouns , but none have caught on. Some people and organizations, including Vox, might use "they" instead of "he" or "she" as a gender-neutral singular pronoun. The lack of a widely accepted gender-neutral pronoun makes it difficult for even the most well-meaning person to correctly address someone without running the risk of misgendering them.

That's one of the reasons it's typically better to directly ask about a person's gender identity if there's any reasonable uncertainty. It might be difficult for most people to fully understand the many hurdles that trans, gender nonconforming, genderqueer, and nonbinary people deal with on a daily basis. But they face huge disparities in nearly every aspect of society.

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Families shun and even disown children over their gender identity and expression. In social settings and media, trans people are commonly portrayed as purposely deceptive individuals and even sexual predators who want to trick or trap others into sleeping with them. The surveys and studies above found these disparities are more pronounced among trans women of color, who can live within the convergence of transphobia, racism, and misogyny in the US. In , multiple transgender women, most of whom were racial minorities, were murdered. For a segment that makes up less than 1 percent of the US population, the number of deaths reached what activists referred to as "a horrifying litany" and "an epidemic.

As with many other issues of discrimination, the root of the problem is prejudice: the idea that people who are not cisgender are somehow inferior or wrong about how they identify. The biggest issue, voiced by Keisling and many other trans people to me, is the mischaracterization that people who don't conform to society's expectations of gender are always trying to deceive others.

It is perhaps the stereotype that underpins so many of the issues these people face in their everyday lives, making it so they have a difficult time even entering the bathroom that corresponds to their gender — much less getting a job or gaining family acceptance.

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Some of the prejudice shows itself in state policies. Bathroom bills , for example, try to stop trans people from using the restroom that matches their gender identity. The worry is that if trans people are allowed to use the bathroom for their gender identity, whether through inclusive policies or laws that ban discrimination against LGBTQ people in certain settings , men will somehow take advantage of these measures to sneak into women's bathrooms and sexually assault women.

But even if states allow trans people to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity, rape and sexual assault remain completely illegal. Moreover, there ar e no reports of any sexual assaults happening as a result of states or facilities letting trans people use the bathroom for their gender identity. In two investigations, Media Matters confirmed with experts and officials in 12 states and 17 school districts with protections for LGBTQ people that they had no increases in sex crimes after they enacted LGBTQ protections.

Media Matters. Trans people say they just want to use the correct bathroom, previously taking up the Twitter hashtag wejustneedtopee to show their discontent with the state bills:. At a more basic level, many people don't believe that expressing or identifying with a gender different from the one designated at birth is a healthy possibility.


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  • It wasn't until that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders classified gender dysphoria as a treatable state of emotional distress instead of a permanent condition called "gender identity disorder. LGBTQ advocates say conversations have to start at the individual level to drive broader cultural changes and understanding, similar to the effect gay, lesbian, and bisexual people had on society by coming out and showing others that their love and marriages are largely no different than those of heterosexual couples.

    In some countries, international treaties take precedence over national law; in others, a specific law may be required to give an international treaty, although ratified or acceded to, the force of a national law.