Trans 101 is a term meant to contain a basic course of knowledge in transgender issues. It is meant to be a basic course for those who wish to learn about these issues without having to ask a trans person who most likely has answered these same questions hundreds, if not thousands, of times before. The information in this article is by no means complete or comprehensive. The reader is directed to the main page of this wiki if they wish to continue their education on this subject.
The transition from male to female (MTF) or from female to male (FTM) is complex, and it is not the same for everyone. There are general guidelines, and many people follow certain “steps,” but no two experiences are identical.
Regardless, there are a few important points to keep in mind:
- A person’s gender identity is never a choice. Usually, the only way to find out how exactly a person identifies is to ask them. Sometimes, transgender people either cannot or will not define themselves any more narrowly than transgender, transsexual, queer, or genderqueer. Many use the abbreviation, Trans* to cover all identities when generalization doesn't harm the narrative. Some trans people identify only as their target sex, believing that their status permanently changed when they felt complete in their transition.
- People cannot change their gender identity. It has repeatedly been tried over the past 100 years using various psychological treatments that have always failed.
- Some people are born with a gender identity that does not match their physical body, and transition has been recognized by mental health and medical professionals as an appropriate, and often necessary, means to correct this.
- For many — probably most — transsexual people, transition is a life-saving measure. It is not considered a choice, per se, because all too often the only other option is misery, depression and death from suicide or other risky behavior.
Terms & definitions
- Cisgender is an adjective used in the context of gender issues and counselling to refer to a type of gender identity formed by a match between an individual's assigned gender at birth and the behavior or role considered appropriate for one's sex.
- Cissexual is a term used to denote persons whose sex identities are the same as their sex assigned at birth.
- FTM an acronym for Female To Male. It is an adjective, not a noun and as such should always be paired with a noun, as in "an FTM person," or "FTM people are those who transition from female to male."
- Gender Social scientists use gender to refer to a particular social identity, status, and cluster of roles, that are often (but not exclusively) determined on the basis of sex.
- Gender Expression is the outward expression of a person’s gender identity, usually expressed (among other things) through clothing, behaviors, mannerisms, and chosen names. It is the external manifestation of a person’s inner gender identity.
- Gender Identity (or core gender identity) is a person's own sense of being male or female, neither of these, both, etc. The term is intended to distinguish this psychological association, from physiological and sociological aspects of gender.
- MTF an acronym for Male To Female. It is an adjective, not a noun and as such should always be paired with a noun, as in "an MTF person," or "MTF people are those who transition from male to female."
- Sex The members of many species of living things are divided into two or more categories called sexes. These refer to complementary groups that combine genetic material in order to reproduce. It is generally meant to describe the physical aspect of the physical characteristics that define sex rather than the psychological aspects defined under gender.
- Sexual Orientation, sexual preference or sexual inclination describes the focus of a person's amorous or erotic desires, fantasies, and feelings. A person's sexual orientation is most often classified by the sex one is "oriented" towards. Sexual orientation and behavior are independent from gender identity. Since both are often mentioned together or even confused, the article homosexuality and transgender elaborates on this.
- Transgender, from (Latin) derivatives [trans <L, combination form meaning across, beyond, through] and [gender <ME <MF gendre, genre <L gener- meaning kind or sort]) is a general term applied to a variety of individuals, behaviors, and groups involving tendencies that diverge from the normative gender role (woman or man) commonly, but not always, assigned at birth, as well as the role traditionally held by society. An analogy may be used by comparing "transgender" to the word, "metal." Just as there are many materials classified as metals - gold, steel, copper, aluminum - all with different properties and appearance, so too are there many different kinds of transgender people.
- Transition is a general term describing the process of changing one's social gender and/or physical sex from that which was assigned at birth to another. It is not a definite term and is highly subjective. Transition can mean different things to different people but most would define it as a change from being assigned male at birth and changing to a female social role and sexual phenotype, or vice versa.
- Transsexual a person who identifies with a physical sex different from the one that they were assigned. It is often incorrectly used as a noun rather than the correct usage as an adjective.
- A video that explains some of the basics: http://www.gaycenter.org/community/multimedia/transgenderbasics
- Transgender Basics by Rosa Juel Nordentoft, Gender Identity Project
- Answers About Transgender Issues by Laura Erickson-Schroth (New York Times City Room)
- Answers About Transgender Issues, Part 2 by Laura Erickson-Schroth (New York Times City Room)
- A three part series, "What is a transition?"
- A three part series by Antonia D'orsay
- SOYOUWANNA GET A SEX CHANGE? (note: bias towards MTF transition)
- Readers may use this email link to report errors and/or omissions they have discovered, or to add additional material or comments regarding this article "Trans 101"
- Wiki Staff should discuss this article in the Wiki Staff Forum
- Susan's Place Transgender Resources Forums
- Susan's Place Transgender Chat
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