What does it mean?

“This is an umbrella term for people whose gender is different from their “assigned” sex at birth - that written on their birth certificate.” – BBC

“Denoting or relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender does not correspond with their birth sex.” – Oxford Dictionaries

Transgender woman is used as an adjective, as in:

  • transgender person (a person who is transgender)
  • transgender woman (a woman who is transgender)
  • transgender man (a man who is transgender)

Transgender is normally considered to be the opposite of cisgender.

There is no requirement to have hormone treatment or gender related surgeries to call yourself transgender.

Terms with similar meanings are trans* and trans.

Umbrella term

"Transgender" is a word that covers a large number of different people - it’s an umbrella term.

Words like this can:

  • help if you’re not sure what specific term describes you
  • help if how you relate to gender is fluid and changes over time
  • be more likely to be understood by the general public
  • be useful for ensuring that a wide range of different people can access resources and support

However, words like this can also:

  • hide how much people using the term actually differ
  • hide how much more discrimination some people using the term receive
  • include people in a term that they don’t like without asking them
  • include people in a term that they don't feel actually describes them

Think carefully before using this word to describe someone or a group of people - they may not wish to be described that way.

Defined by breaking norms

"Transgender" is a word that describes whether people are breaking the rules - “norms” - of how people are expected to behave or describe themselves.

Words like this can:

  • make visible that it is possible to break norms
  • help explain how people are discriminated against or targeted for breaking norms
  • help explain the privilege given to people who do not break norms

However, words like this can also:

  • imply that only certain people are allowed to break norms
  • be confusing, as almost everyone breaks at least some norms
  • be confusing, as people may not know whether they break enough norms to use the term
  • hide that some people don't just experience discrimination for breaking norms, and experience gender dysphoria too
  • result in the term being used to mean “normal person” or “abnormal person”

Think carefully before using this word to describe someone or a group of people - they may not wish to be described that way.

Errors and omissions

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