Trapped between worlds – gender identity and its many definitions

“Gender does not have to do with bed partners, it has to do with identity” – Christine Jorgensen.

Differentiating transgender from trans sexuality is to a certain extent abstruse, and there are many definitions for those two terms, but only the person can define how he or she identify themselves.

There are prominent academic literature I’ve come across on the difference between sex and gender. The Medilexicon Medical dictionary states that one’s sex is a biological quality, while one’s gender is a “category to which an individual is assigned by self or others …” – in other words, psychological.

The difference between transgender and trans sexual is to some extent the ‘same’ in the straight world but for a person going through the motions of identifying themselves, it is not the same.

Transgender is considered to be more of one’s internal gender personality or inclination, as well as the related social expectations that may go together with a given role. Whereas trans sexuality can be said to be more of a physical characteristic of one’s sexuality.

The sex and gender difference is often overlooked, so that gender is used to label the categorical male/female difference and sex is used to label the sexual activity.
The transgender parasol includes sometimes-overlapping categories. Which are: trans sexual, transvestite (cross dressers), androgyny and bi-gender. This does not include drag queens or drag kings as they are performers who cross-dress for the purpose of entertainment.

‘It was obvious that we, as a culture, have a hard time trying to understand the difference between a drag queen, trans sexual, and a transgender’ – RuPaul
Another term which [at first] confused me is intersex.

Intersex people has the physical characteristics that do not conform to strict definitions of male/female, but intersex people are not necessarily transgender, since they do not all disagree with their biological sex.

A mouth full, I know, and for me that means, even though a guy is born a guy but feels like a girl, doesn’t mean he is gay. Confusing? Did I make you think? Good.
Trans sexual people identify themselves as the opposite sex and wish to live and be acknowledged as such. Some [who can afford it] go through, gender transition; a process of aligning one’s gender appearance with their internal gender identity. But with that said, after transition, they may or may not automatically identify as transgender or trans sexual any longer, but simply as male or female.

And now let’s talk about coming out as transgender. The commonness of discrimination against homosexuals are already a hot topic – how will you be facing family, friends and the world with this news? Misperception and lack of acceptance will happen first – in drastic cases – you might be kicked out, but like all parents, they might believe that ‘you’re going through a phase’.

After reading this, you will see that our community and support structure still lives in ignorance – let us support those who are trapped between worlds.

Article published in The Pink Tongue, December 2014


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