What Is Transgender?
By Joseph Castro, LiveScience Contributor | November 15, 2013 12:45pm ET
The initials LGBT refer to the global community of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. While most people know what the acronym's first three terms mean, the word "transgender" is not as widely understood.
“Transgender” is an umbrella term for persons whose gender identity, gender expression or behavior does not conform to that typically associated with the sex to which they were assigned at birth," the American Psychological Association (APA) explains on its website.
It's important to note that sex and gender are not always the same, though the terms are often used interchangeably.
A person's sex denotes his or her biological status of being male or female. The determination of a person's sex depends on various physical characteristics, including chromosomes, reproductive anatomy and sex hormones. Gender, on the other hand, deals with the behaviors, roles and activities typically associated with the different sexes.
Transgender people may use more specific categories to describe themselves, including transsexual, genderqueer and cross-dresser, according to GLAAD, an LGBT media advocacy organization.
People who are transsexual feel that their sex doesn't match their gender identity, and may take steps to better align their sex with their gender using hormones and surgery. Genderqueer individuals don't identify with either male or female descriptions, and instead feel that their gender falls somewhere along a continuum.
People who cross-dress wear clothing that's traditionally worn by people of a different gender. Cross-dressers are generally comfortable with their birth sex, and this type of gender expression isn't necessarily related to sexual desire or erotic activity, according to GLAAD. (GLAAD also notes that the term "transvestites" is considered derogatory.)
Being transgender only speaks to gender identity and isn't indicative of sexual orientation. Transgender people may be gay, straight, lesbian or bisexual, GLAAD stresses.
Research has also shown that transgender people are at high risk of experiencing prejudice and mental health problems, and a 2010 study found that 41 percent of transgender people in the United States have attempted suicide.
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Which one (or more) of these is you?! ;-)
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