What is transgender? The term transgender refers to people whose gender identity is different than the sex that they were assigned at birth. If we want the official meaning of transgender, we can always go to the Miriam Webster dictionary definition: “of, relating to, or being a person whose gender identity differs from the sex the person had or was identified as having at birth; especially: of, relating to, or being a person whose gender identity is opposite the sex the person had or was identified as having at birth”. That’s the official answer to the question “What is transgender”. It’s all tied up with a neat little bow, isn’t it? But is life ever tied up in a neat little bow?
Another way to answer “what is transgender” is looking at sex and gender. Sex refers to our biology. Specifically, our biological status as either male or female when we are born. Gender is a social construct on how each sex should behave, dress, etc. Those behaviors are specifically gender roles. Not everyone uses the gender roles that correspond to the sex they were assigned at birth. Gender roles are also not determined by sexual orientation, some girls are tomboys and some boys like to play with dolls. It really is as simple as that. Gender identity is another term that is used when we ask “what is transgender”. Gender identity is the gender we view ourselves as. Our gender identity does not always correspond with our sex, which is the most basic answer to what is transgender.
When thinking about “what is transgender”, a lot of people wonder about when people discover this about themselves. As with anything else in life, everyone is different. Most transgender people start realizing it when they are children, before puberty hits. This does not mean that if your son starts trying on your high heels or his sister’s clothes that he is transgender. Childhood is a time when we all experiment in different ways and this is one of the ways that children sometimes experiment. However, if your child starts telling you that they are a girl when they were born a boy, listen to them. Especially if they continue to say it.
What is transgender and how can it affect people? One negative part of being a transgender person is the possibility of being discriminated against. For instance, there are still thirty-two states where someone can be fired simply for being transgender. Even if a state has anti-discrimination laws when it comes to sexual orientation, transgender people may not be covered under it because sexual orientation and being transgender are two different things. It’s for this reason that anti-discrimination laws need to cover gender identity in addition to sexual orientation. Everyone also needs to educate themselves. Education is the key to a lot in life, and that is the case with learning what is transgender. Too many people assume they know everything there is to know when the truth is what they know would not fill a thimble.