From a presentation I prepared for sensitivity training where I work
- Think of four scales with male on one end and female on the other:
- Biological sex: assigned at birth, more than just polar – includes intersexed (XYY, XXY, etc)
- Gender Identity: how a person identifies themselves
- Cis-male/female (natal) is someone who’s gender matches their birth sex
- A transGender is an umbrella group that includes anyone whose gender is different from their birth sex
- A transSexual is someone who’s gender is opposite their birth sex
- Orientation or Preference: who you would choose to be a partner with
- Gender Expression/Presentation: how you dress, appear or act
- A person can be anywhere on these scales, not just the polar ends
- These scales are completely independent of each other (birth sex, gender identity, orientation, presentation, abilities)
What you should know
- This is not something one chooses, this is pre-natal
- We are born with a Birth sex and a Gender. “Gender presentation” however, is what is learned from society/environment
- Because some of us are born with a Birth sex and Gender that do not match, we have to deal with this our entire lives
- We all have an internal ‘body map’
- If someone loses an arm – they still ‘feel’ their fingers
- A transsexual’s body map is opposite their natal sex
- Current research points to hormone levels and timing at 6 weeks in-utero
- This is NOT a choice!
- It is something a transsexual attempts to come to terms with
- Most of us spent agonizing years in denial – trying everything we can to be ‘cis’ (natal)
- The ‘facade’ is the acting out of societies ideals of what is expected of our birth sex
- But the need is to just simply ‘be ourselves’ – to be our gender and to be accepted as such
How to treat anyone in the LGBTQ community – actually anyone, period.
- Respect of course, appreciate what we have already been through in our lives
- It’s not ‘contagious’, nothing happens if you shake our hand!
- It’s not necessarily ‘you’ – do not be challenged by this, “don’t take this internally”
- We are not different – we are surprisingly ‘normal’
- Sometimes empathy and imagination is all that is needed to understand
- On the issue of pronouns (and many other issues): we are all different
- In general, a person should at least ask – and try.
- Don’t ask personal questions that you would dare not ask anyone else!
- Respect our wishes for privacy
- Ask before telling someone else that we are LGBTQ
- ‘Outing’ someone can be dangerous for them (violent crimes/murder)