Self-Identification Comes First

Julie Truesdell

Many people, queer-identified or not, assume that the term "transgender" refers only to specific individuals who have sexual reassignment surgery, but that is not the case.

It's Day 2 of the Creating Change Conference and I attended another wonderful workshop called "Not Another Trans 101" which presented the National Transgender Education Project's youth curriculum. It was exciting to go through the curriculum and I am sure that I will use it in my classroom this semester. The collection of activities were both engaging and informative. We reviewed and learned appropriate terminology for gender variations.

The binder had a quote — "If you ask 100 different trans people for any given definition, you will get 100 different answers." It was good starting point for a valuable discussion on how self-identification is the bottom line. The best way to understand someone's identity and preference is to ask them directly!

Many people, queer-identified or not, assume that transgender refers only to specific individuals who have sexual reassignment surgery, but that is not the case. Many individuals choose to identify as transgender which can be understood as "an umbrella term for anyone whose gender identity(s) and/or gender expression(s) don't match social ideas and norms of gender, which can include transsexuals, crossdressers, genderqueer people, and other gender nonconforming individuals." The transgender community may even include SOFFAs (significant others, family, friends and allies) in the application of the term, but, again, most importantly, is self-identification.

Today, I also met my housekeeper, who, like the rest of the staff at the Marriott, was so welcoming! I appreciate the fact that the hotel is so GLBT-friendly.

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