As a society, we tend to think of a person's gender as being either male or female. We also tend to expect everybody who is male to act and dress in a certain way, and all females to dress and act in certain ways. Gender is much more complex than that. Not everybody neatly fits into one of the two physical genders. There is a wide range of behaviors for each gender. In fact, there is no such thing as the one male or the one female way to act or dress.
What is transgender?
Transgender is not sexual orientation. Transgendered people have the same range of sexual orientations that non-transgendered people have. Assuming transgendered people are gay is a mistake.
Transgender is a blanket term used to describe many different types of people. The word transgender could be used to describe people who wear clothes that are not generally worn by people of their physical gender, engage in some behaviors that are more typical of members of a different physical gender, identify themselves as members of a different gender than their gender of birth, do not identify as male or female, are born with some combination of male and female anatomy, or have gone gender reassignment surgery. Not all people who could be described as transgendered use the term to describe themselves. Generally, it is polite to describe transgendered people using the term they use to describe themselves.
What is transsexual?
People who describe themselves as being transsexual are people who identify themselves as being a different gender than their gender of birth. Some people who describe themselves as transsexual have not had any operations to change their birth gender. For example, a person who was born with male sexual anatomy might identify as a female.
What is transphobia?
Transphobia is irrational fear, hatred and disgust of people who are transgendered or transsexual. Transphobia can appear when transgendered or transsexual people are discriminated against, harrassed, threatened, insulted or made fun of.
Transphobia is a serious problem. Transphobia can be fatal. A few people are so deeply afraid of transgendered individuals that they have attacked and brutally murdered transgendered or transsexual people.
How serious is the problem?
An article on the web site of the Canadian Union of Public Employees provides a lot of valuable information. The article can be read by going to the CUPE web site. A few important statistics given in the article are as follows:
On the average, one trans person is murdered each month.
An estimated 60% of trans people have been victims of hate-motivated violence.
About 20% of all United States GLBT murders were members of the trans community.
People interested in knowing more about violence against transgendered and transsexual individuals are encouragaed to visit the Remembering Our Dead web site.