For people who are questioning or trying to figure out their gender identity, defining what it is to be male, female, a mixture of both, or even none of the above can be challenging enough on its own. Although the past few years have seen an increase in online resources devoted to a wider breadth of narratives outside the traditional “trapped in the wrong body” line that many still use to define the experience of being trans* or gender non-conforming, these resources often take a fair bit of sleuthing to uncover online, and many may be unwilling or unable to expend the amount of effort needed to get a really thorough overview of the subject.
This may hold especially true for demographics that need the information the most – mainly, families that have little to no exposure to trans* issues, some healthcare professionals, and children or teens questioning their gender identity.
Acceptance of LGB individuals is a rising tide, with the most recent national polls showing that a majority of Americans support marriage equality. And, although currently mired from passage by religious conservatives in the Senate, ENDA, the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act bill, is also supported by a majority of Americans.
It’s safe to say that the fight for LGB equality is going in the right direction. Transgender rights, on the other hand? There’s still a considerable amount of catching up to do. Part of the problem, I personally feel, stems from a simple lack of understanding of what gender identity is. I can’t tell you how often I’ve personally told a straight, cisgender acquaintance that I identify as some shade of trans*, only to have them ask, “does that mean you’re attracted to women now? Or…uh, would it be men?”
The question is well-meaning, the person’s confusion without a doubt genuine. But it reminds me that when you’re not as entrenched in trans* issues as I have personally made it a point myself to be, the concept of gender identity can be a murky one for people who don’t have any prior exposure to it. Hell, consider examples of my own journey to coming out as trans. It doesn’t take a genius to see that it’s not even the easiest thing for those of us experiencing it to get a firm grasp on.
Mel, Jay, and Robin, creators of a full-length, color illustrated resource called ‘the GENDER book’ that is currently in the midst of a crowdfunding campaign this month, are hoping to change that. Read more