LGBTQIA Faculty/Staff Resources

Transgender

Transgender individuals often face additional obstacles within society. Affirming and providing safe environments for transgender students on and off campus is essential to their well-being, both mentally and physically. Recognizing all individuals under the transgender umbrella (including but not limited to: genderqueer, gender fluid, agender, trans man, trans woman, two-spirit, intergender, and non-binary) is equally as important when trying to be a supportive ally.

Listed below are resources and terms that often relate specifically to transgender students and are important to be aware of. Transgender students can be questioning their identity, transitioning, or looking for support, and understanding terminology, providing them with resources, and being aware of the adversities they might face allow for Transgender students to find safe spaces and help designative Transgender identities and bodies.

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Specific Student Concerns

  • Pronouns and Misgendering
  • Bathroom Concerns
  • Misnaming
  • Housing / Bathroom (on-campus)
  • Health Care Facilities
  • Being Outed / Coming Out
  • Gate-keeping

Tips for Becoming a Better Ally Online and On Campus

You should always assume that there is a Transgender student in your classroom. 

Don’t assume that you know anyone’s gender identity 

  • As an educator, not assuming a student's pronouns can assist in normalizing gender identities outside of the heteronormative gender binaries.  

Don’t assume that you know anyone’s sexual orientation. 

  • For example, Transgender people can be gay, lesbian, bisexual, straight, etc.

Be conscious of consent - try to be aware that the legal name on school documentation may not be the name of the student in your classroom. 

  • Understand the meaning of “deadname” - this refers to a Transgender person is called the name they were given at birth, prior to transitioning, and not the name they use anymore. 

  • Transitioning: to present an outward gender expression that is in line with their gender identity, that differs from the biological gender assigned at birth. 

  • In the online setting, allow your students to give you their name (try and refrain from using “preferred” name, as it is their name. 

Do not assume that it’s necessary for a Transgender individual to disclose that they are Trans. 

  • This assumption can be invalidating for a Trans individual. There is no need for them to “come out” to you - as that is their truth. It has nothing to do with you. Respect that. 

Someone’s gender history is their information to share; it is not something to casually discuss. 

  • It’s important to understand that if a student discloses their gender history to you, that they trust you and trust that the information disclosed will not leave the boundaries of your relationship, just like any other confidential information a student might share with you.

  • It’s important to clarify with a student if the information shared is common knowledge to avoid potentially outing the student. 

Be cognizant of the language that your Transgender student uses when describing their identity; they could still be trying to figure it out themselves. It’s not something to rush or have them choose. Their language and description of self may change throughout the course of your class. A few examples of language change might be, but are not limited to: 

  • Transgender 

  • Transsexual 

  • Non-Binary

  • Genderqueer

  • Gender Non-Conforming

Understand that someone’s pronouns may change if they’re questioning their gender identity - be respectful and considerate of their exploration. Make it known that they can change them at any time throughout your course.

  • You can state this on your syllabus or in your class introduction.

  • You could ask for pronouns at the beginning of each discussion board in an online class. 

  • You could ask for pronouns when someone speaks up in class. 

  • You could put your pronouns on your zoom, or however you deliver your course content (especially during COVID). 

You don’t need any proof of whether or not someone is Transgender. Not every Transgender person transitions (for many reasons, all of which are personal and do not need to be disclosed to you), so if someone tells you they are Transgender, they are.

Listen to your students. Do not be a performative ally. Show up for your students; realize when action is needed and when verbal support is enough.

 

(https://www.glaad.org/transgender/allies)

Also see: https://transequality.org 

Important Definitions

  • Transgender: For the purposes of this paper, transgender or trans refers to an individual whose gender identity does not match the one they were assigned at birth (Halberstam, 2018). This includes transgender men (assigned female at birth), transgender women (assigned male at birth), and nonbinary individuals who identify outside the gender binary and who may also use terms like genderqueer, agender, or gender nonconforming. Scholars and activists treat transgender as an “umbrella term” because it contains great internal variation while also providing an opportunity to mobilize around shared experience (Nicolazzo, 2016; Serano, 2013). Many also utilize subcategories like “binary” (to refer to trans men and trans women) and “nonbinary” to signal potential differences, although for some people, these categories overlap (i.e., identifying as a nonbinary trans woman) (Siegel 2018).

  • Non-binary: relating to or being a person who identifies with or expresses a gender identity that is neither entirely male nor entirely female. Definition: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nonbinary

  • Deadname: the name that a transgender person was given at birth and no longer uses upon transitioning. Definition: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/deadname

  • AFAB: Acronym meaning Assigned Female at Birth. AFAB people may or may not identify as female some or all of the time. Definition: https://pflag.org/glossary

  • AMAB: Acronym meaning Assigned Male at Birth. AMAB people may or may not identify as male some or all of the time. Definition: https://pflag.org/glossary

  • Cisgender: This term is used to identify nontrans* people. The prefix cis means “on this side” and is used to describe people who do not experience dissonance between their assigned sex at birth and its corresponding socially ascribed gender. However, Jourian (2015b) and Enke (2012) both cautioned against reifying a cis/trans* binary, as this oversimplified categorization misses the complexity of how gender maps across bodies, spaces, and times. Jourian’s and Enke’s insights are indeed reflected throughout this book, as multiple participants in the study (e.g., Adem, Micah, Raegan) often resisted easy gender categorizations that could be understood through the false cis/trans* binary. 

  • Gender: This term describes the social discourse regarding how people identify, express, and embody the socially ascribed norms relating to their assigned sex at birth. Gender operates as a floating signifier for the ways individuals practice, do, or otherwise live in relation to these social norms. Precisely because of its ethereal status, gender has the ability to change and continues to change across time and context. Such (potential for) change, however, defies current social conceptualizations of the term in Western thought, which mark it as a naturalized, immutable fact that is always already tethered to one’s assigned sex at birth. 

  • Gender binary: This is the false assumption that there are only two natural, immutable, and opposed genders (i.e., man and woman) that correspond with only two supposedly natural, immutable, and opposed sexes (i.e., male and female).

  • Genderfuck: A gender identity, expression, or embodiment that denotes one’s intentional blending, blurring, or otherwise fucking with socially ascribed gender norms. Genderfuck is an overtly political, highly confrontational, and intentionally confounding positionality that is intended to force others to confront their assumptions about gender. 

  • Gender identity: This relates to one’s internal understanding of hir own gender. Quite literally, this term describes how one identifies one’s gender, independent of how the individual expresses or embodies said identification. Similar to the discourse of gender, a person’s identity may shift across time and space. However, these shifts do not mean one’s gender expression is any less real or meaningful. 

  • Genderqueer: This term denotes how some people intentionally queer, or destabilize, their gender identity, expression, or embodiment. This term is similar to gender-fuck, but it could be understood to be less political, radical, or overt in orientation. In other words, where genderfuck is an attempt to radically shift public perceptions of gender, genderqueer is a more individual attempt to identify, express, or embody a positionality that is consonant with an individual’s desires. 

  • Passing: This refers to the ability to be socially (mis)read as having a particular gender identity. Although some trans* people see passing as positive, it can also be a burden, or what trans* people feel they must do because of the threat or reality of violence. Passing can also be a positionality that is ascribed by others to an individual (e.g., “You pass as …”). Again, this has potentially positive and negative effects for trans* people, as the politics of passing are not easily discernable.

  • Sex assigned at birth This term describes the social discourse regarding how people are assigned to one of two supposedly natural, immutable sexes (i.e., male or female). Although some individuals are born as intersex, there is still intense pressure from medical practitioners to operate on intersex babies to modify their sex assignations so they align within the binary of male/female. This, then, has the effect of reifying the fallacious assumption of sex as a binary discourse. 

  • Trans* This term refers to those who transgress the socially constructed discourse of how we identify, express, and embody our genders. The asterisk is borrowed from the symbol used for computer search functions that allow people to search for a certain prefix (e.g., trans-), resulting in a list of complete words using that prefix (Tompkins, 2014). In this sense, the asterisk is used to signal the expansiveness and constantly expanding communities of trans* people. There has been some debate about the use of the asterisk in trans* communities, however, and while it is out of the scope of this glossary to discuss these complexities, it should be noted that not all trans* people prefer it, use it, or agree with its use.

  • Trans* feminine: This term denotes trans* people who identify, express, or embody feminine-of-center positionalities. Trans* feminine people may or may not move toward biomedically transitioning to a trans* woman. 

  • Transition: A term sometimes used to refer to the process—social, legal, and/or medical—one goes through to discover and/or affirm one’s gender identity. This may, but does not always, include taking hormones; having surgeries; and changing names, pronouns, identification documents, and more. Many individuals choose not to or are unable to transition for a wide range of reasons both within and beyond their control. The validity of an individual’s gender identity does not depend on any social, legal, and/or medical transition; the self-identification itself is what validates the gender identity. Definition: https://pflag.org/glossary

  • Trans* man This term applies to trans* people who desire or are in the process of socially or biomedically transitioning (e.g., taking hormones, seeking gender confirmation surgeries). Not all people who identify as trans* men can or do transition. I have used the term in this book in relation to Kade, the study participant who identified as a trans* man, to illustrate this definition. It is also a reflection of how he named his own identity. Trans* masculine This refers to trans* people who identify, express, or embody masculine-of-center positionalities. 

  • Trans* masculine people may or may not move toward biomedically transitioning to being a trans* man. Also similar to a transman but not identifying explicitly as male and male only. Often a genderqueer person who is transitioning to be more masculine but not necessarily ftm. Can also be simply an umbrella term for any person transitioning to be more masculine (with binders, testosterone, packing, or other common forms of transitioning to a more masculine character). Definition: https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=transmasculine 

  • Trans* oppression This refers to a system of oppression that places at a disadvantage “people whose gender identity or expression do [sic] not conform to binary cultural norms and expectations” (Catalano & Griffin, 2016, p. 183). Using this term as an organizing principle for understanding the social asymmetry of gender enforcement and regulation requires that trans* people and their needs are acknowledged and centered in discussions. I have used this term throughout this book rather than using the term genderism, which operates as a critique of gender without necessarily centering on trans* people and our needs. 

  • Trans-sexual: A less frequently used—and sometimes misunderstood—term (considered by some to be outdated or possibly offensive, and others to be uniquely applicable to them) which refers to people who use (or consider using) medical interventions such as hormone therapy or gender-affirming surgeries (GAS), also called sex reassignment surgery (SRS) (or a combination of the two) or pursue medical interventions as part of the process of expressing their gender. Some people who identify as transsexual do not identify as transgender and vice versa. Definition: https://pflag.org/glossary

  • Trans* woman This applies to trans* people who desire or are in the process of socially or biomedically transitioning (e.g., taking hormones, seeking gender confirmation surgeries). Not all people who identify as trans* women can or do transition. (Nicolazzo, 2017).

 

Transgender Public Figures

  • Alexis Arquette
  • Alok
  • Amanda Lepore
  • Amiyah Scott
  • Andrea Jenkins
  • Anna Grodzka
  • Balian Buschbaum
  • Caitlyn Jenner
  • Candis Cayne
  • Chaz Bono
  • Danica Roem 
  • Isis King
  • Janet Mock
  • Jenna Talackova
  • Kate Bornstein
  • Kristen Browde
  • Lana Wachowski
  • Laverne Cox
  • Lea T.
  • Marsha P. Johnson
  • Phillipe Cunningham
  • Rosemary Ketchum