What is trans? | The Proud Trust

What is Trans?

Trans*ism is the practice of transgressing gender norms. Trans is an umbrella term used to include anyone who goes against what society deems to be acceptable behaviour for a particular gender. This can include Transsexuals, Transgender people, crossdressers, drag queens and drag kings. Anyone can go against gender norms, for example, girls with stereotypically male jobs, such as a mechanic, or boys with stereotypically female jobs, such as a nurse.

Trans*ism, Transgender, transsexual … what does all this stuff mean? What’s the difference between them?

There is a good list of the terms used around Transpeople and in the Trans community here

These definitions are quite general but they serve as a good starting point for those who have no experience in this area.

Please note that Trans*ism is separate from sexual orientation. Sexual orientation (Gay, Straight, Bisexual, Pansexual, Omnisexual, or just plain Queer) is based on whom you are attracted to sexually. Trans*ism is based on your personal gender identity. An FTM who is attracted to women is usually considered straight, as is an MTF who is attracted to men, because their gender identity is the opposite of those they are attracted to. However, the fact that someone is not Trans* does not make you straight, and vice versa. An FTM attracted to an MTF would also be considered to be straight. ‘Straight’ means that if you identify as male, you are attracted to those who identify as female, or if you identify as female, you are attracted to those who identify as male. Those who identify as neither male nor female, as a mix of the two, or as something else altogether define for themselves what ‘straight’ and ‘gay’ mean for them.

Aren’t sex and gender the same thing?

Actually, they’re entirely different things. Sex is your physical makeup, your chromosones, genitalia, hormones, etc. and includes male, female and intersex. Gender is how you feel and is not defined by what you have in your underwear! It’s your internal sense of self and includes man, woman, boy, girl, and a 101 other things.

The easiest way to remember it is that sex is between the legs and gender is between the ears.

There are currently five sexes recognised by the American Medical Association – male, female, and three kinds of intersex. Gender is an infinite spectrum, and as it’s a very personal thing, every person can have their own unique gender identity. This would mean that there are as many genders as there are people in the world!

Is it okay to ask a Trans person questions about it?

It depends on the person and the situation. In general, if you want to ask a personal question, first ask if it’s okay to do so. Personal questions include anything to do with one’s sex life, anatomy (not just genitalia), and relationship status – past, present or future. Some people may even consider questions like “Are you on hormones?” to be personal. When in doubt, ask if you may ask them a personal question before going ahead. Respect people’s boundaries.

A good general rule regarding this is: If it’s something you wouldn’t ask a non-Trans person, then it’s probably not something you should ask a Trans person. In other words, if the person were not Trans and you wouldn’t feel comfortable asking, there’s no reason for you to feel more comfortable or more entitled to know just because the person is Trans.

Please remember! When you have met one Trans person, you have met ONE Trans person and know that person’s experience and choices. Transpeople are all individuals and what is applicable for one Trans person is not applicable for all Transpeople. Some Transpeople may not mind discussing their experiences, whereas other Tranpeople doesn’t like to talk about it. They are, by and large, just like anyone else and prefer to be treated as PEOPLE first.

Isn’t Trans really new?

Transpeople have been around for as long as there have been people, it’s just come more into public knowledge recently so it seems to be very new. The gay rights movement which started in the 1960s was initially started by Transpeople. There is a brief outline here

which gives significant dates in Trans history, starting from 1897!

Are there any famous or notable people who are Trans?

Transpeople are mostly invisible in society. You’ve probably passed Transpeople on the street without even realising it. However, there are some Trans people who are well-known public figures and others who are well-known in the Trans community for being activists and putting themselves forward. There’s a list of several famous trans people here.