You may think you don’t know any transgender people – you are probably wrong. Or perhaps you know someone who identifies as trans and want to know more about the way they are thinking.
The first thing to understand is that many transgender people often hide this from even their closest friends and family. They are not doing this to deceive you, it’s a well grounded fear of adverse reactions. In the past and in some countries today this reaches the same level of persecution that gay men and women suffer. Even today in the UK transgender people are often targets for abuse and sometimes violence. Also some transgender people have discarded their birth gender so completely that they want nothing to remind them of the past. If someone trusts you with the knowledge that they are trans don’t assume they are happy for you to share it with others.
Being transgender is rarely about sexuality, transmen and transwomen, like everyone can be heterosexual, gay, bisexual or have no interest in sex at all.
Society pressures men and women to look like behave in gender roles assigned at birth and defined by genitalia. For transgender people, these roles are uncomfortable and restricting. They often seek to take on a gender role that better fits with their sense of identity.
There is often confusion about how people should address a transgender person. The simplest approach is to address and talk about them as the gender they are currently presenting unless they have indicated otherwise. Trying to guess their birth gender is likely to cause offence and you may still get it wrong. If you are genuinely uncertain because their presentation is ambiguous then ask how they wish to be addressed.