Non-Binary Trans FAQ
- Sexual orientation and gender identity are private! Why do people who are not heterosexual/hetero-romantic/cisgendered have to announce it?
- What does it feel like to be trans?
- Don't a person's genitals decide if they are male, female, or another gender (such as intersex)?
- What about chromosomes?
- If your body doesn't decide your gender, why transition?
- How do people transition?
- How can a non-binary person transition if they aren't male or female?
Sexual orientation and gender identity are private! Why do people who are not heterosexual/hetero-romantic/cisgendered have to announce it?
Heterosexual, hetero-romantic, and cisgendered are the defaults - allosexual cis people don't have to announce that they are allosexual and cis, because it is automatically assumed. Most people do not like incorrect assumptions made about them. Furthermore, those who are not allosexual and cis may also wish to participate in many aspects of social interaction that relate to orientation and gender. People talk about their spouses and families as well as major life changes, they discuss whom they find attractive, crushes, and romantic interests. People who are not allosexual and cis should not have to hide their preferences from the world just to appease an intolerant portion of those who are.
What does it feel like to be trans?
If you are a woman born female, imagine that for as long as you can remember, people called you a boy, used a "boy name" for you, referred to you as "he" and dressed you in "boys'" clothes, despite even perhaps your constant objections, and distress over how wrong this felt to you. If you are a man born male, imagine that you were instead put into dresses and called a girl, and no matter how many times you told people that you were a boy no one took you seriously. This is how it feels to be trans. People who are not trans are just fortunate enough to have been born with gender identities that match their physical sex.
Don't a person's genitals decide if they are male, female, or another gender (such as intersex)?
Gender identity is not determined by physical sex, these are two distinct things. A man who has lost his penis to accident or illness would still be a man; likewise a woman who has lost all of her reproductive organs and her breasts would not suddenly be no longer considered a woman, as these things don't define her identity (though they may well be important parts of it for her personally). The vast majority of people tend to be cisgendered -- meaning, they identify with their sex, their gender identity coincides with their physical sex in the usual way.
What about chromosomes?
A typical argument against acceptance of trans identities and transition itself is that a person's sex is defined by their chromosomes and these can never be changed. But in fact, even the familiar karyotypes do not definitively decide sex, let alone gender. There are both instances of XX males (people born XX but with male bodies) and of XY females (people born XY but with female bodies), as well as many variations involving more than two sex chromosomes, such as XXX, XXY, X0, and XYY. These possibilities, many of which are even more common than most people know and often go completely undetected until discovered by chance in adulthood, show that nature itself is not so polarized and that even sex exists on a spectrum of variation and is not neatly cut into only two individual categories. It is doubtful that most people would try to tell an XX man, who was born with a penis and feels like a man, that he is in fact a woman because of his chromosomes, so why try to make this argument against a trans person?
If your body doesn't decide your gender, why transition?
For many people, the physical sex "affirms" their feelings of gender. Cis men often like having a masculine body, and cis women like having feminine features. This isn't true for everyone -- certainly many men may have feminine features and embrace them, and women may embrace traits they have that are more often considered masculine, others may simply not mind one way or another. Just like cis people, transgender people don't all feel the same about these differences. Some are uncomfortable in bodies that may starkly contrast the sex that usually would have corresponded with their gender and feel great distress in them, the same way a cis man might feel if he developed breasts (a condition known as gynecomastia), or a cis woman might feel if she developed excessive facial hair. Just as those cis men or women, a transgender person might opt for surgery, hormones, and or other methods to bring their body into a form more "affirming" for their gender identity. Others may more feel at ease with these features, or with using more temporary ways of changing their appearance.
How do people transition?
There are many different ways to transition, and no one-size-fits-all plan. Which options a person utilizes is a highly personal matter, and may often be limited by financial resources. Possibilities include hormones and/or hormone-blockers, various surgical procedures both with cosmetic and medical/functional/hormonal results, and social transitioning. Transitioning socially often involves presenting as the gender one is rather than as the gender one had been assigned at birth, for example with clothing, haircut, etc, and changing name and/or pronouns. Some people may opt not to change their bodies at all, and simply wish to be acknowledged as the gender they have found they identify as.
How can a non-binary person transition if they aren't male or female?
As explained above, nature has not created humans as strictly "male or female" -- a non-binary identity may often be considered the intersex equivalent of a gender identity. Non-binary people may wish to lessen or reverse traits and features that are typically "masculine" or "feminine" without necessarily replacing those with characteristics from the other side of the spectrum. Many non-binary people opt not to transition physically at all. Still others would like to but are denied medical services for transgender people due to their non-binary status, although this has been improving somewhat in recent years as awareness and acceptance becomes greater. Many non-binary people who identify as agender or gender-neutral prefer to present in a gender-neutral way such as with unisex clothing and hairstyles. Some prefer a more binary look, perhaps remaining with the presentation of their assigned gender, a mixture, or even switching among different presentations as is especially common among people who identify as genderfluid. None of these things change or define a person's gender identity and are generally chosen by the person because it is what makes them most comfortable as they are, just as when any cis man or woman chooses their preferred clothing, hairstyle, and other options for appearance.