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Illustrated White Cats

Where's the Compassion? Where's the Love? Where's the Understanding?

A Transgender Life and Transphobia

Educational and Informative Page 

Transgender (Trans)

Transgender people have a gender identity or gender expression that differs from the sex that they were assigned at birth. Some transgender people who desire medical assistance to transition from one sex to another identify as transsexual. Transgender, often shortened as trans, is also an umbrella term; in addition to including people whose gender identity is the opposite of their assigned sex (trans men and trans women), it may also include people who are non-binary or genderqueer. Other definitions of transgender also include people who belong to a third gender, or else conceptualize transgender people as a third gender. The term transgender may be defined very broadly to include cross-dressers.

Being transgender is distinct from sexual orientation. Transgender people may identify as heterosexual (straight), homosexual (gay or lesbian), bisexualasexual, or otherwise, or may decline to label their sexual orientation. The opposite of transgender is cisgender, which describes persons whose gender identity matches their assigned sex.

The degree to which individuals feel genuine, authentic, and comfortable within their external appearance and accept their genuine identity has been called transgender congruence. Many transgender people experience gender dysphoria, and some seek medical treatments such as hormone replacement therapysex reassignment surgery, or psychotherapy. Not all transgender people desire these treatments, and some cannot undergo them for financial or medical reasons.

Many transgender people face discrimination in the workplace and in accessing public accommodations and healthcare. In many places, they are not legally protected from discrimination.


What’s transphobia?

Transphobia is the fear, hatred, disbelief, or mistrust of people who are transgender, thought to be transgender, or whose gender expression doesn’t conform to traditional gender roles. Transphobia can prevent transgender and gender-nonconforming people from living full lives free from harm.

Transphobia can take many different forms, including

  • negative attitudes and beliefs

  • aversion to and prejudice against transgender people

  • irrational fear and misunderstanding

  • disbelief or discounting preferred pronouns or gender identity

  • derogatory language and name-calling

  • bullying, abuse, and even violence

Transphobia can create both subtle and overt forms of discrimination. For example, people who are transgender (or even just thought to be transgender) may be denied jobs, housing, or health care, just because they’re transgender.

People may hold transphobic beliefs if they were taught them by other people, including parents and families who encourage negative ideas about trans people and who hold strict beliefs about traditional gender roles.

Some people are transphobic because they have misinformation or have no information at all about trans identities. They may not be aware of transgender people or trans issues or personally know anyone who is trans.

The stress of transphobia on trans people can be very harmful and can cause:

  • depression

  • fear

  • isolation

  • feelings of hopelessness

  • suicide

  • Trans Lifeline is a crisis hotline staffed by trans people and for trans people

What can I do to help stop transphobia?

No one has the right to discriminate against another person, or to hurt them emotionally or physically. There are things you can do to help stop transphobia:

  • Don’t ever use slurs against transgender people.

  • Don’t ask personal questions about a transgender person’s genitals, surgery, or sex life.

  • Avoid giving trans people compliments that are actually insults. Some examples include: “You look just like a real girl!” or “I never would have guessed you were transgender!”

  • Don’t believe stereotypes about trans people or make assumptions about them.

  • Be a vocal supporter of the transgender community, regardless of your own gender identity.

  • Let the transgender people in your life know that you’re a friend and ally.

  • Educate yourself on transgender issues.

  • Respect someone’s decisions about when and where to come out.

  • If you don’t know a person’s preferred pronouns or name, ask them.

  • Use gender-neutral language, such as “they” and “them” or “folks” and “people” instead of “he/she” or “girls and boys.”

  • Respect trans people’s chosen pronouns and names and use them.

  • Remember that being transgender is just one part of a person’s life.

  • If you feel safe doing so, speak up when other people are being transphobic, like making transphobic jokes, using slurs, or bullying or harassing someone because of their gender identity.

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