Just as sexuality can be expressed in many different ways, so can gender. While some people believe that gender can only be defined as being a man or women, in fact, there are many different ways that gender can be portrayed.


To explain it briefly, a person who is transgender is simply someone who feels that their gender identity is different from the sex assigned to them at birth.


For example, someone, let’s say Steve, was born with male reproductive organs, i.e. a penis. If Steve also feels internally like a man, he is cisgender. If Steve feels that internally to be not man but a woman, Steve would be transgender.


Although some transgender people transition purely from male to female, or vice versa, other trans-people are somewhere in between. People can identify as a man, woman, as neither, somewhere in between, or both.


An example of someone who identifies as both is someone who is genderfluid. Someone who is genderfluid feels their gender identity differently from time to time. One day, they might feel more like a women, and use she/her pronouns and dress as such, while another day they may feel more like a man and portray themselves that way.


Another way that gender can be expressed is by being genderqueer or agender, which means they do not identify as male or female and instead perhaps identify as somewhere in between. Meanwhile, someone who is bigender identifies as both male and female.


In order to encompass the many kinds of trans people who make up the trans community, we use the term trans*. The use of the asterisk is to be inclusive of all members of the trans community and the many different ways gender can be expressed and identified as.


For a great visual explaining the difference between gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation, check out the Trans* Student Educational Resources’ Gender Unicorn.


For tips on how to be a good ally to the trans* community, visit GLAAD.


For a general FAQ on what it means to be transgender, visit the Human Rights Campaign: http://www.hrc.org/resources/transgender-faq


Sable Liggera - 2016