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Trans and Gender Variant People
People have a lot of questions about sex and gender. It can be super confusing and there’s a lot of misinformation out there. I want to look at some words that I get questions about a lot in this contact. I just want to put a general trigger warning as we do talk a little about slurs and what words not to say.
The first term I hear a lot of questions about is about sex.
Sex is based on a combination of chromosomes, hormones, and genital structure. People are assigned or dedicated a sex when they are born. Sex is a social construct and means different things to different people.
Hermaphrodite:Hermaphrodite is an outdated and offensive term. Don’t use it. Hermaphrodite is usually only used for plants and non-human animals, for humans we use the term Intersex. What it is used for is a person who has a different chromosome, hormone, or reproductive system set up than what we usually identify as “male” or “female” Some can be very obvious like differences in genitals, some become more evident as puberty approaches and their hormonal development isn’t standard, others never know they’re intersex or find out later on in life when they have fertility issues. In some cases parents choose to perform surgery on children that present as Intersex to make them appear more like the assigned gender. This can be very dangerous and in some cases detrimental, especially considering a child cannot consent to surgery. Some intersex individuals just see this as a medical condition, not their sex and definitely not their gender. Intersex people a lot of the time are assigned either the male or female gender when they’re born. They may identify with that or they may not. Intersex people can identify as cis or trans gender. They may identify with binary (woman or man) genders or non binary genders.
Designated/(coercively)Assigned Male at Birth: Anyone the doctor decided was a “boy”. They most commonly have the penile/testicle genital structure, XY chromosome, and a testosterone based hormonal structure at birth, however this isn’t always so.
Designated/(coercively)Assigned Female at Birth: Anyone the doctor decided was a “girl”. They most commonly have the vulval/vaginal genital, XX chromosome, and a estrogen based hormonal structure at birth, however this isn’t always so.
At this point let’s talk about gender. Gender is the important bit. It’s really difficult to characterize gender. A lot of people don’t really understand it. There’s a lot that can go into gender.
Gender Roles are The social and behavioural norms for a certain gender. Ex: the male is the provider and the female cooks, cleans and raises children. Although we are starting to move past this in our society, gender roles can still be seen in society and popular media.They Can especially be confusing and unhealthy in regards to non binary or non cis gender people. Gender Roles are really outdated and no indication of how people should be.
Gender Expression or Gender Presentation is refers to the ways in which people externally communicate their gender identity to others through behavior, clothing, haircut, voice, and other forms of presentation. Should not be used as an indication of gender or sexual orientation.
There are many different identities that are based on gender presentation or expression. These are not related to gender identity, but include:
Transvestite: A transvestite is someone who derives pleasure in wearing clothes of a different gender. It’s usually used in a sexual context.
Crossdresser: Someone who dresses as a different gender, this can be casual or for performance.
Drag Queen/King: Someone who dresses as a different gender in professional performances.
At this point usually people are frantically asking what is gender made up if not gender roles and gender presentations?
Gender Identity: A person’s inner sense of being a certain gender, whether it’s a man, woman, or other. It may be based on feelings about your body, feelings about your gender presentation, or many other things.
So what are the different identities one could have?
Cisgender: This is someone whose gender identity matches up with their Designated/(coercively)Assigned Sex at Birth.
Transsexual: Someone who feels that they are a different gender from their assigned sex. Usually this is used as a term for someone who is transitioned (or Post-Operation), meaning they take hormones and/or have had bottom (genital) and/or top (chest) surgery or who plans to transition.
Transgender: Basically the same definition as Transsexual, although it is usually used as a term for someone who is Pre-Operation or does not plan to transition. Also in recent years since the concept of gender and distinguishing it from sex has become so important, more people feel more comfortable with using transgender instead of transsexual.
Genderqueer: This is an umbrella term for anyone who doesn’t feel that they are either male or female but may have traits of both.
Bigendered: Someone who feels they are two gendered, usually male and female although that’s not always so.
Polygender: Someone who has many genders.
Pangender: Someone who has all the genders.
Intergender: Someone who feels that they are both make and female
Genderfluid: Someone whose gender changes
Third Gender: Someone who feels that they are a gender other than male and female
Genderneutral/Agender/Neutrois: someone who feels that they are neither male nor female and that they have in fact no gender or have a neutral gender.
Genderfucking: a term used for a person who is playing around with gender norms, for example a person with facial hair wearing a dress.
Androgyny: A term used for someone who it is not easily discernible if they are male or female.
Androgyne: A person who is neither and both male and female.
There are many other labels that people can use to describe their gender, these are just the most common.
Something that has to be explained when discussing alternative genders is the difference between gender and sex. Sex is purely scientific, it is what your chromosomes and hormones shape your body to be. Many gender variant people do not like their sex being referred to at all, calling them “male” or “female” as their sex is still insulting. Many prefer to be referred by the achronisms MAAB (Male Assigned at Birth), DMAB (Designated Male at Birth), AMAB (Assigned Male at Birth) CAMAB (Coercively Assigned Male at Birth) or the “female” equivalents What this means is that your chromosomes and hormones mean nothing, it is society’s view of gender and sexuality that designated to you the sex that you don’t identify as. Gender is how you view yourself. Your gender is what you want to be referred and treated as. A person whose gender and designated sex is the same is referred to as Cisgender.
Another important thing about Gender is pronouns. People who identify as “male” like to use the pronoun he/his/him, people who identify as “female” like to use the pronoun she/hers/her. There are a lot of pronouns for people who don’t identify as either “male” or “female though. Some people prefer they/theirs/them, some prefer it/it’s, some prefer a combination of Ze/Zie/Sie/Zhe/Hu and Zir/Hir/Mer/Hus/Hum/Zhim/Zher. The thing is, you can never tell anyone’s gender and appropriate pronouns just by looking at them (unless they’re wearing a shirt that says “call me Zir”). You can ask, although I’m not going to say people won’t get offended by that. I wouldn’t, and quite a few people are ready to educate others but some people get their gender misread so many times that it can get irritating. The best way to find out what someone’s gender is is by being around them. Someone will eventually use a pronoun. It doesn’t really matter what a person’s “sex” is, they’re the same people they would be otherwise. Be courteous, kind, respectful and accepting of everyone and you’ll be fine.
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