Trans and transgender are umbrella terms to describe people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differ from the gender assumptions made about them when they were born. This could include trans men, trans women, non-binary, genderqueer, agender or gender fluid people or people with other gender identities.
Sometimes people who have transitioned (moved from one gender role to another) don’t identify as trans but might say they “have a trans history”.
People in any of these groups might or might not have had hormone treatment or surgery to help treat gender dysphoria. This is personal information: it’s not appropriate to ask unless someone invites you to.
Frequently asked questions
Why might you find trans people at BiCon?
As with the rest of the population, sexual orientation varies amongst trans people, and some identify as bisexual or pansexual. Some trans people may be attending BiCon to support a partner or friend. Others attend BiCon as it has a reputation of being welcoming to trans people and it is a space they can feel comfortable in.
Doesn’t ‘transgender’ mean the same as ‘transsexual’?
‘Transgender’ is an umbrella term to describe people who feel the gender that has been assigned to them at birth is a false or incomplete description of them. ‘Transsexual’ refers to someone who feels that the gender assigned to them at birth is incorrect and seeks to change their body to “match” the correct gender, often by taking hormones and/or having surgery. Some people who medically transition in this way prefer to use the umbrella terms ‘transgender’ or ‘trans’; some use ‘transsexual’ as well or instead.
What pronoun should I use for a trans person?
In short, whatever one they want you to use. Many trans people prefer to be referred to as ‘he’ or ‘she’ – using the pronouns of their chosen gender (if they have one). Others prefer other gender-neutral pronouns such as ‘they’ or ‘zie’. It’s often better to ask someone their pronouns than to guess based on how you read their appearance.
How many genders are there then?
Many trans people and their allies reject the idea of binary gender, where the only genders are male and female – they believe that gender is more like a continuum or scale (or something more nebulous than that), with different gender identities in different places. This means that the number of different genders is limitless!
What about transgender people and feminism?
Some feminists and feminist groups are supportive of transgender people, whereas others are not. Those that are not supportive of transgender believe that one’s birth sex permanently determines a person’s identity as a woman or a man. Many trans people identify as feminists and may view themselves as contributing positively to feminism by questioning and subverting gender norms.
Other commonly used words
Someone who dresses in clothes more often associated with another gender, either occasionally or more regularly. Men who crossdress are sometimes referred to as ‘transvestites’, but this term is being used less commonly and some people may find it offensive.
This is the opposite of transgender, and refers to people whose gender matches the one that was assigned to them at birth. ‘Cisgender’ is often shortened to ‘cis’.
Drag Queen/Drag King
A ‘drag queen’ is (usually) a man who crossdresses in order to provide entertainment; by the same token, a ‘drag king’ is (usually) a woman who dresses as a man to provide entertainment. They may or may not identify as transgender.
Trans woman/Trans man
‘Trans woman’ refers to a male to female (i.e. female identified) trans person; ‘trans man’ refers to a female to male (i.e. male identified) trans person.
‘MtF’ refers to a male to female (i.e. female identified) trans person; ‘FtM’ refers to a female to male (i.e. male identified) trans person.
A person who identifies as something other than one of the two binary genders.
A person who feels their gender is not set at a particular point; they may associate more with different elements of gender at different times in their life.
The idea that there are only two genders – ‘male’ and ‘female’.
Someone who identifies as being neither male or female, and/or who looks neither male or female. Androgynous people are sometimes referred to as ‘androgynes’.
Distress, unhappiness and discomfort experienced by someone about their body not fully matching their gender identity.
Negative attitudes and feelings towards trans and transgender people.
Where to find out more about Trans at BiCon
Being a Better Ally, Non Binary Gender Identity and Expression & Introduction to Diversity are some of the sessions at this year’s BiCon where you can ask questions and find out more.