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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)
    • A person who has a male birth sex but who’s gender is female (a transsexual woman) and has a sexual orientation of female would consider themselves a lesbianGenderbread Person Infographic

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)

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