On the 22nd day of November the past year, the gender community celebrated the 14th International Transgender Day of Remembrance. Featuring 50 Tran’s icons which include Isis King, the only transgender contestant ever to grace in America’s Next Top Model and Chaz Bono, an iconic transgender and with the overwhelming support from the LGBT community, many find it empowering to use their freedom of expression and no longer be afraid of becoming who they really are. 1
It is almost a typical scene seeing gender-bending individuals roam our society. In public, we see males with big statures yet with long hair and heels. You might also find someone hot as Justin Bieber then discover that it’s a she. Passionate couples of the same sex also became more visible.
With these, it is safe to say that as of now, society has reached that level of acceptance of these people. It is no longer new or shocking seeing them freely. What hasn’t changed is the stereotype that is attached to these people. Whenever a male is feminine, the term gay or homosexual is then labelled to him. Whenever a girl acts manly, then she is called a tomboy or lesbian.
But is that always the case? It is a big no. It’s way more than that. The real thing is, beneath who they are is something deeper that neither the term gay nor lesbian could define.
So what does that make of Isis King and Chaz Bono? What is the T in LGBT?
Transgender may easily be mixed up with gays or transsexuals or transvestites but learning to differentiate one from the other will give us a clearer understanding of them. What better way to kick things off than starting to set the line between sex and gender.
Sex is assigned at birth. It refers to our biological status as either male or female. The Philippine president is male while Lady Gaga is female. How are we certain of that? Well obviously, it is because sex is primarily associated with our physical attributes. Hormone prevalence, chromosomes, external and internal anatomy and everything obvious could be our basis.
Gender on the other hand is more than what we have between our legs. It is how we identify ourselves. It refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for boys and men or girls and women. Simply put, sex is polarity of anatomy while gender is polarity of appearance and behaviour.
You might as well be certain as of now that it is necessary to choose using gender as your criteria in categorizing transgenders. After all, the word transgender have gender in it. But that doesn’t end there. To fully appreciate the essence of a transgender, one has to separate sexual orientation from gender identity.
Sexual orientation is which sex you find erotically attractive to. If you’re male and attracted to another male, then you’re homosexual. If you’re attracted to the opposite sex then you’re heterosexual. If attracted to both then that makes you bisexual. A man who is gay is not transgendered because attraction is not directly proportional to gender.
It is how one sees oneself socially that we can define what a gender identity is. One may have a penis but prefer to relate socially as a woman or vice versa. Gender identity refers to one’s internal sense of being male, female, or something else. This is where transgenders come into the picture. Transgender people may be straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, or asexual.
It cannot be denied that trangenderism is complex. There is no quick shortcut to describe the intricacy of transgenderism in an easy and accurate way. But to easily put it, transgenders expresses gender in a non-traditional manner. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, it is “of, relating to, or being a person who identifies with or expresses a gender identity that differs from the one which corresponds to the person's sex at birth”.