05 July 2015

How Quickly Notions About Us Are Changing

One thing I find interesting--and gratifying--is how quickly much of the public's understanding of what "transgender" means is shifting.

According to a four-year-old report I recently found, nearly half of all people surveyed thought a transgender is someone who "switches" from one gender to another.  Nearly one in five people believed that a trans person "lives like the opposite gender", "identifies more with the opposite gender" or "has identified with both genders".  Another ten percent subscribed to what was the standard definition until the 1980s or thereabouts:  transgenders are born into the "wrong" body.

Just four years later, those statistics and notions already seem very dated--especially the large number  of people who thought trans people "switch" genders.  There is some degree of truth--at least, for some trans people-- to the other definitions I've mentioned, but they don't come close to telling the whole story about any of us.

Perhaps that is one of the best outcomes of the publicity surrounding Caitlyn Jenner and other trans people "coming out".  None of us fit a single narrative of what it means to be trans any more than any cisgender heterosexual is likely to fit into some narrow definition of "cisgender" or "hetero".   As more people understand that, it can only make it easier (though I still won't say "easy") for us to live in the fullness of our own beings.

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