Picture / New York Times

After watching the video, you must have gained experience in the variant perceptions of the word “Transgender”. Many people have used inclusive terms but still, confusion exists about the various terms and the main “Transgender” term. Therefore, here in our first issue, we have given a breakdown of the different terms through this write-up. So, let’s begin!

The word “Transgender” is an umbrella term for “people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from what is culturally typically associated with the gender/sex they were assigned at birth.” A “Trans Woman” is a woman who was assigned male at birth and a “Trans Man” is a man who was assigned female at birth. However, they may not identify themselves as trans or be identified by others. Therefore, the space between Trans and Man/Woman is grammatically and definitionally correct. “Trans*” is a word which is used by some non-binary and gender non-conforming people to indicate that they are not cis, but does not identify themselves as trans man/woman either. However, Trans* is perceived by some as a broad umbrella of inclusivity, however, some find it to be unnecessary because of the existing umbrella term “Transgender”. Some people have changed or seek to change their bodies through gender reassignment surgery are known as “Transsexual”. Unlike Transgender, transsexual is not an umbrella term. Many transgender people do not identify themselves as transsexual and many transsexual people do not identify themselves as trans. “Intersex” is defined as the variant sex characteristics which doesn’t align with male or female and all intersex people do not identify as transgender and all transgender people are not intersex people. Therefore, it depends on the person to choose their own gender identity.

However, gender identity should not be confused with sexual orientation. Gender Identity refers to your internal sense of being a girl, a boy, a woman, a man, both of these, none of these or another gender. Sexual orientation is a person’s enduring physical, emotional and/or spiritual attraction to others. A trans person can be homosexual or heterosexual or both or pansexual.

Fear, discomfort, hatred and distrust addressed towards trans people or trans concepts is known as “Transphobia”. Many factors contribute to transphobes like religious ideologies, reproductive capacity, naturalness, realness and misconceptions around scientific fact or biology.

Picture / New York Times

“Transmisogyny” is a combination of misogyny with transphobia where trans women are objectified and violent and domineering treatment is meted out them. The result of this is stigma, discrimination and violence at much higher rates than women in general.

A person may identify themselves as trans from a young age, however many do not even know the meaning until at a later age. Transgender people are called by different names in different places of the world. In most countries of South Asia, they are called ‘Hijra’ or ‘Kinnar’. However, these names are often called as a derogatory remark to look down upon them. Stigma, discrimination and violence lead them down on the streets begging or engaging oneself with sex work because “no one employs them despite being skilled”. Transgender people often have to go through forceful castration mainly in South Asian countries to be fit for sex work.

Transgender people's rights and identification are still a controversial topic in South Asia and other parts of the world, but we can never stop being allies to them to create an inclusive society. Pronouns such as “hir” instead of him/her and “ze” instead of he/she, or “they/them” can be used to address transgender and other non-binary people. Their history and struggles should be taught from a very early age in schools and at homes to end discrimination. A small step towards reformation will create a better and equal society.



Debarati Ganguly


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