What is Gender Identity?

imageOn June 9th, 2015 Vanity Fair magazine will release an issue with the cover featuring Caitlyn Jenner with the words “Call Me Caitlyn” heading the magazine. The cover, which is already released on the internet, along with her sit-down interview with Diane Sawyer, has garnered a lot of controversy and publicity over the revelation of who Caitlyn Jenner really is. While Caitlyn Jenner is famous for winning a gold medal in the 1976 Olympic decathlon, the new topic she addresses today is extremely relevant as gender identity finds its way into the national and international conversation. So, what exactly is gender identity?

Gender identity is the internal sense and feeling of one’s gender. Transgender people’s gender identity does not match that of their sex, assigned at birth. For some people, gender is not apparent. Instead they are classified as “Genderqueer” or “Genderfluid.” In other words, they do not identify themselves as men or women, but rather as somewhere in between, or neither at all.
Trans people should not be treated any differently than any other person. Here are some basic common sense guidelines to follow when talking to a transgender or genderqueer person:

  1. Always use a transgender person’s chosen name.
  2. If possible, ask the person of with which gender they identify and what name they would like to be called. (This is not rude, it’s respectful to address them however they want to be addressed.)
  3. Always use their chosen pronoun. (ex. He/She/They)
  4. When referring to a transgender person’s past life before their transition, use their current gender identity and name, never using their past gender or name.
  5. Transgender people should be treated as any other person and should not be talked down to or given privileges not given to other cis-gendered persons. (In other words, don’t think of them as “transgender” think of them as how they would like you to, a man or a woman or neither, whichever they prefer to identify as is what you should identify them as.)

Always be respectful of people, regardless of their genders. Everyone should be treated with the same respect as you’d like to be given; seriously, it’s dumb to treat someone as if they’re less than you, just because they feel more comfortable identifying with a different gender.

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