To start, the most basic definition and level of trans/trans*, short for transgender, is a term which applies to individuals whose gender does not match their birth sex.
Individuals who identify as transgender may be born biologically male or female and assigned a sex at birth. Gender identity typically develops at a young age, when children begin to be socialized into gender norms, and further develops over the life course. As one grows into this identity, the expression of gender may change, which can contradict the stereotypical gender norms of masculinity or femininity. (Remember, gender is not innate; therefore, we are not born with a gender.) Further, societal standards emphasize a “male or female” mentality, which translates to a person should be either a man or a woman. However, we know that sexual and gender identities are not simple and typically do not fit into a box.
While many individuals who identify as transgender live as either male or female, many choose to look beyond the gender binary, while others decide to adopt an androgynous identity (one which is neither masculine nor feminine).
Transgender identities are not a recent thing, however. Historically, many different Native American tribes regarded individuals who identified as transgender. In these instances, these particular individuals were known as Two-Spirits. Two-Spirits, who had both maleness and femaleness, were highly regarded in their respective tribes, as they were believed to be in touch with the spirits.
One important aspect of transgender identities is that they do not equate sexual orientation. Below you can find a link that will take you to the Genderbread Person. This website has a great visualization that will help clarify the differences between sexual orientation, gender identity, and a myriad of other aspects regarding sexual and gender identities!
Click here to learn more about the Genderbread Person!
And as always, if you have questions, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org!