What Does “Trans“ mean? That’s Why we have Transgender Awareness Week (11/13-19)

Does it mean you cross- dress? Have had surgery F-T-M (female -to -male) or M-T-F ( male- to -female).  What pronouns do you use?  Is it possible to be LGB when you are “trans?”

Answers: The only common denominator transgender people have is a gender identity or gender expression that differs from the sex that they were assigned at birth. Some transgender people who want medical assistance to transition from one sex to another identify as transsexual. However, if you’re “trans,” you do not necessarily need a sex change.

Transgendered persons do not want to be locked into binary categories: For example: it’s not respectful to say “male pronouns” and “female pronouns ”  to a trans individual. So, what are the pronouns that the transgendered population use?  When in doubt, ask the person how they would like to be addressed. Pronouns are not necessarily tied to someone’s identity: a transgender individual may use “he/hi,/his” or “she/her/her” but do not identify as male or female.  Ze/Hir and Ze/Zir pronouns are also gender-neutral pronouns.

As most cisgender people do not know transgender people (80%, according to GLAAD) Transgender Awareness Week ( November 13-19) brings visibility to a community that is misunderstood and is subject to violence, especially among Latin and people of color.  During Transgender Awareness week, there is an opportunity to strongly recommend trans inclusion at all levels of work, provide education to those who lack understanding and advocate for protections at all levels of government (local, state and federal).

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance against Defamation or GLAAD that monitors the depiction of transgender individuals in the media, recommends this year that everyone watch the documentary DISCLOSURE on Netflix.  Disclosure explores the history of trans representation in TV and film and contains over thirty transgender thought leaders on screen and a production crew that relies heavily on trans people.  Through this rapport between the leaders and production crew, the audience can see for himself the resulting cultural attitudes off-screen and true-to-life consequences of those depictions on trans people’s lives as told revolutionarily from trans people’s own experiences.

Directed by Sam Feder and Executive Producer Laverne Cox, the movie shows the cultural attitudes off-screen and real-world consequences of these depictions on trans people’s lives.  It is a good movie for Allies of Transgender people to watch as well so they can view the media stereotypes and cliched portrayals and be moved to educate the public so that empathy will lead to protection for the transgender community.

When Your Child is Gay

When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know

For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.

Wesley Cullen Davidson

Wesley Cullen Davidson is an award-winning freelance writer and journalist specializing in parenting as well as gay and lesbian content. For the past two years, Wesley has concentrated almost exclusively on the lesbian and gay community, specifically on advising straight parents of gay children on how to be better parents and raise happy, well-adjusted adults

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