Trans Identities

Across time and culture, there are several different conceptions of gender, gender identity, and gender expression.  In our U.S. Western culture, trans* is used as an umbrella term to refer to those who experience their gender identity and/or express their gender in ways that do not conform to their sex assigned at birth.

Offered Definitions

  • Cisgender – a person who identifies with the gender they were assigned at birth
  • Cissexism – a pervasive and institutionalized system that“others” transgender people by treating their needs and identities as less important than those of cisgender people. Any attitude, action, or practice – backed by institutional power – that subjugates people because of their status as transgender
  • Gender Binary – the idea that there are only two genders – male/female or man/woman and that a person must be strictly gendered as either/or
  • Gender Non-Conforming – a person who either by nature or by choice does not conform to gender-based expectations of society
  • Genderqueer – an individual whose gender identity is neither male nor female, is between or beyond genders, or is some combination of genders. Sometimes this includes a political agenda to challenge gender stereotypes and the gender binary system. Genderqueer individuals may or may not pursue any physical changes, such as hormonal or surgical intervention, and may not identify as trans*
  • Transgender – a person who identifies with a gender other than that the gender they were assigned at birth
You can find a complete list of our offered definitions here.

Challenges for the Trans Community

While transgender folks generally represent the “T” in LGBTQ+, understandings of the trans community as well as their issues are largely unknown by the broader community and the United States.  With increasing visibility from folks like Laverne Cox, Janet Mock, Candis Cayne, Conchita Wurst and others, more of the unique experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming people are being highlighted in the media.  We encourage you to learn more about those below:


  • Gender Diversity – provides family & youth support groups, education, training, and annual conferences for youth, families, adults, and professional provides
  • Gender Spectrum – provides education, training, and support to help create a gender sensitive and inclusive environment for all children and teens
  • FIERCE – building the leadership and power of LGBTQ youth of color
  • Sylvia Rivera Law Project – legal services for people discriminated against on the basis of gender identity or expression
  • Trans Student Educational Resources – a youth-led organization dedicated to transforming the educational environment for trans and gender non-conforming students through advocacy and empowerment
  • We Happy Trans – information about positive perspectives on trans people around the world