Tonight's episode of 20/20, which included focus on families of transgender kids, helped elevate the conversation going on across the country regarding gender identity and gender expression. For some, it may have answered questions, while for others it may have sparked more questions in need of answers. Regardless of why you're here, we're glad you are! Whether you are transgender yourself, the loved one of someone who is or might be, or a person who is just learning about the subject for the first time, we're here to help.
First, then, a brief overview of gender identity. Gender identity is one’s deeply held core sense of being male, female, some of both, or neither. Some of both? Neither? That's right. For a long time, gender was considered to be binary, meaning you are male or female. Full stop. As time has gone on, we've come to realize that gender is experienced on a spectrum. And awareness of one's gender identity is usually experienced as early as 18 months old and reinforced in adolescence. It's important to note that one’s gender identity does not always correspond to biological sex, which refers to anatomical, physiological, genetic, or physical attributes that define if a person is male, female, or intersex. These include genitalia, gonads, hormone levels, hormone receptors, chromosomes, genes, and secondary sex characteristics. When a baby is born, the doctor looks at its visible sex organs, including genitalia and other physical characteristics, and gives that baby an assigned sex. From that sex, we get an assumed gender, which is the gender a person is assumed to be based on the sex they are assigned at birth.
It's a lot to take in, we know. Here, are some publications (available for free download, or to order) to help you explore the subject further.
guide to being a trans ally, a publication from our Straight for Equality program, is a light, easy-to-read booklet that will help you learn more about what transgender means, develop competency around talking about the issue, and help you become better informed about the challenges that many trans people face.
Our Trans Loved Ones, written by PFLAG staff members, and created with the help of content experts, reviewers, and PFLAGers with experience to share, is full of information, first-person stories, and expert input for those who have a loved one or friend who has come out as trans or gender expansive.
More of a film-friendly person? We have you covered! Check out this great list of films on gender.
And for those who want a deeper dive, PFLAG Academy Online on Demand offers a great session on becoming a trans ally.