There are two core concepts that help in understanding transgender people and their experiences. A recent article in The Guardian suggests some guidelines for writing about transgender people.
“First, gender and sex are distinct in this context: sex = biology, ie sex assigned at birth; gender = one’s innate sense of self. Thus, transgender (where the Latin trans means “on the other side of”) signifies someone whose gender differs from their assigned sex.
“Second, while transgender refers in the broadest sense to someone whose sex and gender do not match, cisgender (from the Latin “on this side of”, ie the antonym of trans) refers to those whose sex and gender do match. In other words, anyone not trans is cis.
“If that sounds like a strange or even offensive concept, you are probably cis. We hope it doesn’t make you feel embarrassed or ashamed. If so, consider yourself endowed with a new level of empathy for your trans brothers and sisters. But rest assured it’s only meant as a helpful linguistic signpost for understanding gender diversity.
“With that in mind, here are some proposed guidelines. Transgender should be used as an adjective, shortened to trans after first use: transgender person, trans person. Never “transgendered person” or “a transgender”. (In the case of trans*, the asterisk represents a wildcard, ie any gender minority. Stick to transgender or trans in formal contexts.) Continue reading “Understanding gender diversity”