FAQ:  Understanding Transgender and Nonbinary People

What do you mean by gender diverse?

Gender diverse is an umbrella term to reach people in the gender galaxy who are transgender and nonbinary, that is: non-cisgender people.

What is cisgender?

Cisgender (pronounced /sɪsˈdʒɛndə/) refers to individuals who do not identify as transgender. In other words, those who identify with the gender they were assigned to at birth.

What does is mean to be transgender?

Transgender is a broad term that describes those who identify differently than the sex they were assigned at birth. Trans or Trans* is sometimes used as shorthand for transgender.

What does nonbinary mean? Is it just a fad?

Nonbinary individuals identify as a gender that is not exclusively male or female. Genderqueer, gender fluid, pangender, bigender, and agender are just a few examples of identities used by nonbinary folks. The visibility of nonbinary identities has dramatically increased over the past few years because people finally have access to a language that more accurately describes them.

What is the difference between sex and gender?

Sex is the assignment or classification of someone as male, female, or intersex based on physical anatomy at birth. Gender is socially constructed and incorporates a set of behavioral, cultural, and psychological traits, which varies from culture to culture.

Are gender identity and sexual orientation the same thing?

No. Gender identity refers to a person’s internal sense of self. A person’s sexual orientation refers to who a person is attracted to. Terms associated with sexual orientation, for example, are gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, etc.

Is being transgender a mental illness?

No; however, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) categorizes gender diverse persons with gender dysphoria. According to the American Psychiatric Association, gender dysphoria involves a conflict between a person’s physical or assigned gender and the gender with which zie identifies. People with gender dysphoria may be very uncomfortable with the gender they were assigned, often manifesting as discomfort with their body (particularly developments during puberty) or discomfort with the expected roles of their assigned gender.

What does it mean to transition?

Transitioning is the gender journey persons take in order to live into their authentic gender. This may include dressing in a way that is more representative of one’s gender and medical interventions such as hormone replacement therapy and/or surgical procedures.

How many people are in this community?

There is no precise way to measure this community, so there is no accurate data. However, according to the Williams Institute (2016), nearly .6% of American adults are transgender or nonbinary. This may be even greater in Indiana where .71% of adults identify as trans and/or nonbinary. This translates to nearly 48,000 people in Indiana alone!

Why are proper pronouns important?

Gender diverse persons are confronted with societal gender violence daily, which includes a barrage of binary reminders, misgendering, dead-naming, and legal and systemic constraints. Showing respect means using appropriate pronouns.

How can I be sure I am respecting a person’s pronouns?

When introducing yourself, always use your name and pronoun. Listen to and acknowledge the pronouns used by others. When in doubt, ask.

What if I accidentally use the wrong pronoun or name?

Apologize, correct yourself, and move on. Bringing greater attention to the error than necessary may only exacerbate the situation.

Can someone be fired for being transgender or nonbinary?

There are no federal regulations protecting this community. Although some states have enacted legislation to prevent such discrimination, the State of Indiana offers no protections for gender diverse individuals.

How can I genuinely support transgender and nonbinary persons?

There are many ways to respect and support gender diverse individuals. First and foremost: listen to their stories. Use appropriate names and pronouns. Avoid assumptions about sexual orientation, romantic attractions, and relationship structures. Do not inquire about medical procedures unless it is imperative for medical treatment. Think before you speak so that you can prevent microagressions that are masked as backhanded compliments. Educate yourself about issues affecting gender diverse persons and advocate alongside the community.