Transgender identities are in the news a lot lately. Learn about transgender identities and what scientists have to say about their origins.
DeeWho is Dee?
Hi! I’m here to help you explore what it means to be transgender. There’s a lot of attention, confusion and questions around this topic these days, so let’s start with the basics: ‘Transgender’ is not a sexual orientation. It’s about the intersection of gender identity (our core sense of who we are), gender expression (how we show up in the world) and biological sex (the physical parts we’re born with). Come on, let’s dive in…
Explore what it means to be transgender.
Transgender people discuss their identities and experiences.
Listen to a conversation between Gabe, a young transgender boy, and his mom, Chris Lopez.
Learn about Jacob and his family's journey from confusion to acceptance.
Watch this update for the latest on Jacob and his family's story.
When DeShanna Neal’s son began to dress and act like a girl, she saw the impact of societal shunning firsthand: “I watched her die inside.”
Ryland Whittington knew he was a boy. The question was, would other people accept that?
Watch to learn why Kaleb's mom considers him to be "one of the bravest people" she knows.
“I had this fantasy . . . that a fairy godmother would come and turn me into a girl and make everything better.”
Alexis grew up in the 1960's in a housing project. Being open about her transgender identity was not an option.
"There’s a teenaged girl I didn’t quite get to be and I’ve built the life she would have wanted.”
Sylvia Rivera was a tireless advocate for transgender people and the larger LGBTQ+ community, yet few people have heard of her. Learn about her struggles and accomplishments.
Two transgender veterans share their story of friendship and unconditional love.
Christine Jorgensen gained fame as a transgender woman at a time when most members of the LGBTQ+ community were attacked and vilified.
Transgender women of color face distinct challenges
What does it mean for a person to transition? This section covers the essentials.
Decisions around transitioning are highly personal and vary from one individual to the next.
Scientists are researching the biological basis of transgender identities.
Neuroscientists are comparing brain structure and function in transgender and cisgender persons with notable results.
How many people are transgender? It might be more than you think.
(Adj.) Describes a person who does not identify with any gender. Learn More
Androgyne / Androgyny / Androgynous
(Adj.) Identifying and/or presenting as neither masculine nor feminine. Learn More
(Adj.) Refers to a match between gender identity and sex characteristics observed at birth, i.e., a person born with female anatomy who identifies as a girl/woman. Learn More
(Noun) A social construct used to classify a person as a man, woman, or some other identity and ascribe qualities of masculinity and femininity to people. Gender characteristics can change over time and vary between cultures. Learn More
(Noun) Clinically significant distress that can occur in persons whose gender identity differs from the sex they were thought to be at birth. Can also describe a desire to change the characteristics that are the source of the distress, such as physical anatomy. Learn More
(Noun) The ways that a person communicates a gender identity to others such as dress, behavior, hairstyle, voice, and/or mannerisms. Learn More
(Adj.) Describes a person who identifies their gender as shifting within a spectrum of gender identities and expressions. A person who is gender fluid may always feel like a mix of two (or more) genders, but may feel more one gender some days, and another gender other days. Gender-fluid people may or may not also identify as transgender. Learn More
(Noun) One’s deeply held, core sense of being a man, woman, or some other gender. A gender identity can be a combination of two or more genders (such as gender fluid), and some individuals don't identify with any gender at all--described as being agender. Learn More
(Adj.) Describes a person who does not behave in a way that conforms to traditional expectations for their gender, or whose gender expression does not fit neatly into a category. Also known as gender variant. Learn More
Sex / Sex assigned at birth / Biological sex
(Noun) A person's sex (male, female, or intersex) is often determined based on the appearance of the genitalia, either in ultrasound or at birth. In reality, biological sex is more complicated, referring to a combination of anatomical, physiological, genetic, and physical attributes. These include genitalia, gonads, hormone levels, hormone receptors, chromosomes, genes, and secondary sex characteristics. The phrase "sex assigned at birth" is used by some to emphasize that genitalia alone are not always a sufficient indication of a person's sex, as well as the fact that a person's gender identity is not always aligned with the sex characteristics observed at birth. Learn More
Transgender / Trans*
(Adj.) Describes a person whose gender identity does not match their sex characteristics observed at birth. People who identify as transgender (sometimes shortened to "trans") may or may not decide to alter their bodies hormonally and/or surgically to match their gender identity. This word is also sometimes used as a broad umbrella term to describe those who transcend conventional expectations of gender identity or expression, such as people who identify as genderqueer, gender variant, gender diverse, or androgynous. Learn More
(Noun) The process by which some people strive to more closely align their outward appearance with their internal feelings/perceptions of their gender. This may, but does not always, include hormone therapy, surgical or other medical procedures, and changing names, pronouns, identification documents, and more. Often referred to as gender transition. Learn More
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Citations & Sources
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Bodkin, H. (2018, May 22). Transgender brain scans promised as study shows structural differences in people with gender dysphoria. Telegraph. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/05/22/transgender-brain-scans-promised-study-shows-structural-differences/?WT.mc_id=tmg_share_fb
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Flores, A.R., Herman, J.L., Gates, G.J. & Brown, T.N.T. (2016) How many adults identify as transgender in the United States? Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law. https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/publications/trans-adults-united-states/
Garcia-Falgueras, A. & Swaab, D.F. (2008). A sex difference in the hypothalamic uncinate nucleus: relationship to gender identity. Brain: A Journal of Neurology, 131(12), 3132-3146. https://academic.oup.com/brain/article/131/12/3132/295849/A-sex-difference-in-the-hypothalamic-uncin...
Garloch, K. (2017, February 6). ‘I want to be a girl all the time,’ child told parents. Now, mom’s story helps others. Charlotte Observer. http://www.charlotteobserver.com/living/health-family/karen-garloch/article131054374.html
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