Understanding what it is like to be transgender can be hard, especially if you have never met a transgender person.
Transgender is a broad term that can be used to describe people with a gender identity that is different from the gender they were thought to be, an given, when they were born.
Treating a transgender person with dignity and respect is easy, you treat them according to their gender identity, not their sex at birth. Today, someone who lives as a woman is called a transgender woman, trans woman, or trans femme, and would prefer to be referred to as “She/Her”. Someone who lives as a man is called a transgender man, trans man or trans masc. and would prefer to be referred to as “He/Him”
At TransWakefield we use the terms Male / Female, and Man/Woman to refer to a persons Gender, and not their sex.
Your Gender identity is your internal knowledge of your gender – its “how you feel”, for example, your knowledge that you’re a man, a woman, or another gender.
Gender expression is how a person outwardly presents their gender, often through behaviour, clothing, hairstyle, voice or body characteristics.
The period when a person begins to live according to their gender identity, rather than the gender they were assigned when they were born, is called gender transition. Deciding to transition can often take a huge amount of internal reflection. Many trans people risk discrimination, harassment, and social stigma, when they tell other people who they really are. Yet, despite those risks, being open about one’s gender identity can be life-affirming and even life-saving.
Gender transition may, or may not, include changing your name, your clothing your appearance, or the pronoun you would prefer to use, such as “she”, “he”, “they” or “them”. Some people change their identification documents, like their driver’s license or passport, to better reflect their gender, and some people undergo hormone therapy or other medical procedures to change their physical characteristics and have their body match the gender they know themselves to be.
All trans people are entitled to the same dignity and respect, regardless of where they are on their journey, and whether or not they have been able to take any legal or medical steps.
Some transgender people identify as neither male or female, but as a combination of male and female, and may use terms like non-binary or genderqueer to describe their gender identity. Those who are non-binary often prefer to be referred to as “they /them”.
It is important to use respectful terminology, and to treat transgender people as you would treat any other person. This includes using the name the person has asked you to call them, as well as the pronouns they would like you to use. If you aren’t sure what pronouns a person uses, just ask, don’t guess.