Interview: 10 Questions about Transgender Issues with dancer, scholar and activist Michael J. Morris

Michael J. Morris. Photo by Megan Leigh Barnard.
Michael J. Morris. Photo by Megan Leigh Barnard.

The struggle for transgender equality has had top billing on all the news outlets the past few weeks, but the discussions these stories have spawned deserve much more than a soundbite or two. Thus, in order to help you (and I!) develop a deeper understanding and framework from which to discuss this human rights movement with our fellow humans, this week I’ll post a three-part series on different aspects of the transgender experience.

First up, Michael J. Morris guides us through an incredibly thoughtful exploration of the foundational questions, which are sometimes the most basic but most important concepts to understand.

It was Michael’s own personal process of understanding and exploring gender that led to their deep knowledge on the subject.

“I think it was Kate Bornstein, who I heard say, ‘You teach what you need to learn,’” Michael says. “I was drawn to transgender studies from my work on gender and sexuality in dance and performance because I needed to understand more about the ways in which we constitute, regulate and re-create our genders. … I came to this material first because I needed it in my own life.”

Today Michael teaches at Denison University about gender and sexuality in courses such as “Transgender Studies/ Transgender Issues” and “OnStage/OffStage: Dancing Gender and Sexuality.”

Beyond their scholarly work, Michael is a wonderful writer and most gracious human, making them perfect to kick off this series. Following, Michael discusses ways to respect all human experience, muses on how to respond to someone who says they “just don’t get it,” and answers questions about the transgender experience that you may have been shy to ask.

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What does transgender mean?

First, it’s important to recognize that language is dynamic and that it changes over time. Language also carries a complex function of being a primarily social phenomenon—in that words belong to no one person and take their meanings from shared use in different contexts—while also being very personal in that in many ways words are how we come to know and understand ourselves. That being said, the term “transgender” has been used with a variety of meanings in different contexts and communities from the 1970s onward. Some of these usages overlap; some even contradict each other. The term came into more widespread use in the 1990s, and it is continuing to evolve in its use and function. It often means different things to different people who use it to describe their own unique lived experiences.

In her book Transgender History, historian Susan Stryker defines transgender as “people who move away from the gender they were assigned at birth, people who cross over (trans-) the boundaries constructed by their culture to define and contain that gender … it is the movement across a socially imposed boundary away from an unchosen starting place—rather than any particular destination or mode of transition.” I find this to be a really effective and inclusive definition for what transgender means today.

There is not one way to be transgender, any more than there is one way to be a woman or one way to be a man. As with any gender, transgender is a personal identity negotiated
with-and-in a world of others with whom we must live, on whom we depend for various forms of recognition and support, and by whom we are identified. The ways in which we constitute our gender identities—trans or otherwise—are both personal and social, and that complexity works itself out in countless modes of living.

What does transgender not mean?

This is an interesting question. My first response is that transgender may not necessarily mean “transsexual”—someone who pursues medical reassignment from the sex they were assigned at birth to another sex. There are people who move away from the gender they were assigned at birth through changing their language—the words with which they identify themselves—through how they dress or present themselves, through the social roles they take on, through how they understand and enact their bodies, all without any reliance on medical intervention. That being said, there are also people who pursue medical procedures like hormone replacement therapy or surgeries as part of their gender transitions, and they may also identify as transgender. These identities—transgender and transsexual—may overlap, but historically these terms have referred to different ways of living gender variance.

Some people might be insistent that transgender does not mean cross-dressing or doing drag, and for many people who cross-dress or perform drag, this might be true. There are certainly people who perform drag or cross-dress who do not understand or identify themselves as transgender, who consider what they do to be a temporary performance apart from their abiding gendered sense of self. And this is very different from someone who understands and identifies their gender as different from the gender they were assigned at birth. However, historically, before the word “transgender” came into use, before there were medical reassignment options for those who would pursue medical reassignment, gender-variant people certainly engaged in practices we might now call drag or cross-dressing, and even into the 20 th and 21 st century, there continue to be overlapping and intersecting populations who engage in these practices that challenge, disrupt, or even parody the stability of gender identity. So, while none of these terms are fully identical in their functions, and while some people would adamantly argue that practices like drag and cross-dressing are not the same as being transgender, historically and even today, there are people who live in and through these various categories simultaneously, making it difficult to argue for their total discreetness.

From a more social justice perspective, I would say that transgender does not—must not—mean “less than human,” “disposable,” “unlovable,” “undesirable,” or “less real than someone who identifies with the gender they were assigned at birth.”

What is the difference between transgender and gay?

At their most basic, “transgender” refers to a gender identity and “gay” refers to a sexual orientation. In her book Redefining Realness, Janet Mock usefully writes, “Gender and gender identity, sex and sexuality, are spheres of self-discovery that overlap and relate but are not one and the same… Simply put, our sexual orientation has to do with whom we get into bed with, while our gender identity has to do with whom we get into bed as.” “Gay” usually refers to someone who sexually desires people who identify as the same gender—as in women who desire women and men who desire men. “Transgender” does not describe anything about who someone desires sexually. People who are transgender might desire people who are the same, similar, or a different gender from their own. We need to be able to understand gender and sexuality as distinct dimensions of our identities.

However, culturally, we confuse or collapse these aspects of personhood into one another constantly. When we perceive someone as “gay,” in the absence of witnessing any kind of same-sex physical affection or sexual behavior, it is often because they act in ways that deviate from the expectations we have for their gender. For example, we often perceive a man as gay based on the swish in his walk or the cadence or pitch of his voice, the clothes that he wears, or the way he gestures when he speaks. We might perceive a woman as a lesbian if her hair is cut short, if she wears baggy cargo shorts or flannel shirts, if she walks with a sturdy gate, and so on. These are stereotypes, I realize, but I offer them to make a point: all of these visual, verbal, movement, and sartorial cues have more to do with our expectations for someone’s gender than any demonstration of who they desire sexually. Culturally, specifically in the U.S., we tend to read gender variance—masculine women, feminine men, androgyny and gender ambiguity—as evidence of someone’s sexuality. There’s a history to these assumptions, a modern history in psychology and sexology that attempted to understand diverse sexualities as emerging from gender disorders, and we can see this carry over into our understandings of sexuality when we assign dominant or submissive sexual roles as masculine or feminine. But how we present ourselves, how we perform our genders, offers no direct evidence of someone’s sexuality. While we may read gender cues as indicative of sexuality, there is no necessary correspondence between the two, and we limit our understanding and imagination of both sexual diversity and gender diversity when we assume those correspondences.

‘Transgender’ does not describe anything about who someone desires sexually. People who are transgender might desire people who are the same, similar, or a different gender from their own. We need to be able to understand gender and sexuality as distinct dimensions of our identities.

Why all the focus now on the transgender community?

There are a lot of different perspectives and opinions on this. I think there are several reasons. First, and the reason for which I am most grateful, is that there are more transgender people moving into roles of cultural production, as writers, as scholars, as actors, as directors, as fashion icons, as artists, as programmers, as CEOs, etc. As trans people move into these roles, there are more opportunities for trans people to influence culture, to share their own stories, and to platform and amplify the stories of other trans people. I believe a lot of the focus on transgender people and communities is an effect of transgender people and allies operating in these positions as cultural producers.

Several years ago, Shine Louise Houston, a feminist pornographer and owner of Pink and White Productions said to me that she saw gender as the next cultural frontier. The 1970s and 1980s were so focused on the gay rights movement and expanding our understandings of sexuality and diversity in regards to sexual orientations and practices. Now we are having to face that gender is not as simple as we thought it was; gender is the next frontier. Houston’s work, for example, involves directing and producing feminist pornography that depicts a diverse range of bodies, genders, sexes, sexualities, and sexual practices, all determined by the performers themselves. By generating more representations of more genders in pornography, Houston creates space for more visibility for more genders and contributes to a culture that can become accustomed to and even excited by gender diversity.

Another reason for the saturation of transgender visibility in the media right now could relate to social justice and civil rights. In the United States, we are finally starting to see legal protection and equal rights for sexual minorities, specifically for lesbian and gay people. We are seeing increased attention being paid to the racial injustice in our country. Alongside and throughout these other civil rights movements, we are seeing increased attention to gender equality and the legal protection of transgender people. This push for civil rights is not without controversy or backlash—as we’re seeing with this current rise of “bathroom bills” being proposed and passed around the country—and I think particularly in this 24-hour- internet-news- cycle world, the struggle for civil rights provides compelling headlines.

Unfortunately, the focus on the transgender community is not always supportive, understanding, or life-affirming. Increased visibility can also mean increased surveillance—as when trans bodies are placed under heightened scrutiny when moving through airports and TSA—as well as increased violence. Trans people—specifically trans women of color—face disproportionate levels of vulnerability, harassment, and violence in our society. My view is that the existence of transgender people destabilizes some of the most calcified assumptions about gender and personhood in our society, and as transgender people become more visible, there are those who feel threatened by the existence of transgender people, and they retaliate. Judith Butler gave an excellent interview called “Why Do Men Kill Trans Women?” that addresses this aspect of increased visibility.

What are rude things to ask or say to a transgender person? For example, is it OK to ask a stranger if they are transgender?

My first response is that these are the kinds of things that we each have to work out with one another. There is no single guidebook. What is offensive to one person might not be offensive to another, and visa versa. I can speak for myself:

First, I would prefer if people didn’t presume my gender. Rather than “ma’am” or “sir,” “ladies and gentlemen,” “she” or “he,” try using gender-neutral language. You may not know how someone identifies based on visual or other social cues. I think it’s best not to presume.

I am not offended when someone asks how I identify, or if I identify as transgender. I would rather someone ask than assume. I identify as genderqueer or nonbinary, which I understand as a transgender identity. I’m open to sharing that with someone who asks, and talking about it if they don’t know what that means. That being said, I would also want people to consider: why do you need or want to know? Is knowing my gender necessary for our interaction? Do you need to know my gender in order to prepare my cappuccino, for instance? Do you need to know my gender in order to cash my check at the bank? I would be so much more comfortable in a world in which people interacted with me as a person rather than needing to figure out if I am transgender, a woman, or a man.

I realize I haven’t exactly answered your question.

I would advise not to ask people about their medical history unless you’re their doctor. Transgender people often get asked what kinds of procedures or surgeries they have undergone, and it’s really not anyone’s business. We don’t usually question one another about our medical histories; transgender people deserve that respect as well.

Although the language we use for transgender people has changed a lot over the last several decades, here are some good guidelines: refer to transgender people as people, such as “transgender people” or “transgender person,” or “people who are transgender” or “a person who is transgender.” The term “transgendered”—with the -ed—has been falling out of use the last few years. Avoid “transgenders” or “the transgenders” as a noun. And in general, it’s best to avoid the term “tranny.” It is a controversial term, and while there are some transgender people who identify with that term, I believe the vast majority find it to be deeply offensive and associate it with violent interactions.

Other than that, my advice would be to consider the assumptions and biases embedded in what you ask or say to a transgender person. For example, when I was hired at Denison University, an acquaintance asked me, “Wow, and they didn’t mind about your … how you dress?” The implication in the question was that they were surprised that the university hired me, seemingly because they assumed there would be some objection to my gender presentation. It felt like they were saying something like, “Wow, I would not have expected a university to hire someone like you.” The person didn’t intend harm, but that question felt rude to me. The actionable lesson from that interaction could be: think about the implications or assumptions that are communicated in what you ask or say to anyone, including transgender people.

How should someone ask a transgender individual which pronoun is preferred?

I think it would be amazing if we asked and gave our preferred pronouns in the same way we ask and give our names. One strategy would be: when you introduce yourself, offer your name and your preferred pronouns. Then when you ask someone else’s name, ask for their preferred pronouns as well. I think it’s really important that cisgender people—or people who identify with the gender they were assigned at birth—recognize that they also have preferred pronouns; this is not something that’s special or unique to transgender people. Cis people often benefit from cultural assumptions about names and appearance, such that people usually—but not always—accurately assume the pronouns they prefer based of a variety of visual and social cues. That doesn’t change the fact that there is no necessary relationship between how someone looks or sounds and the pronouns they prefer. If we were all more consistent about offering our own preferred pronouns, it wouldn’t feel so unusual to ask about someone else’s.

Michael teaching a class at Denison University. Photo by Tim Black.
Michael teaching a class at Denison University. Photo by Tim Black.

We are all in a process of becoming our genders, whether that involves continuing to discover and make ourselves as the gender we were assigned at birth or whether we are engaged in a process of becoming another gender.

What other struggles — beyond discrimination, threats of violence and increased rates of suicide — do transgender people face?

This could be a really long list. Transgender people often face difficulty securing employment, accessing healthcare, and securing housing. Transgender people often face legal and financial hurdles when revising the gender markers on their documentation to reflect their gender identities, things like driver’s licenses, birth certificates, and passports. Transgender people often face rejection from their families and friends and social networks, leaving them with limited support networks. Even as we are seeing more media representation of transgender people, for a long time, the representations of trans people have been limited, and when they have been present in films and television shows, they have tended to be limited to the roles of sex workers, murder victims, or comedic devices. It’s difficult to live in a world in which the media teaches you that you might only ever be a joke, a prostitute, or killed.

What I find most difficult are the ways in which our world has been organized to regularly deny or fail to acknowledge the existence of trans people. This relates to the lack of media representation, but it also happens in more subtle, practical ways: as someone who identifies as nonbinary—meaning I do not identify as female or male—it’s difficult to fill out tax forms and medical forms and applications and forms on dating apps and legal documents that only list gender options M or F. It’s challenging to be in restaurants or public buildings that only have bathrooms marked “MEN” or “WOMEN,” and not know which I am supposed to use. It’s difficult to not only explain but defend my preferred pronouns—gender-neutral they/them/their—to people who are confused or feel inconvenienced by the words I prefer to use for myself. The assumption of gender as a binary is embedded in so many parts of our society, and each one of those sites and experiences can feel like a reminder that for many other people, people like me don’t exist.

What can an ally say to someone who says, “I just don’t get it” about being transgender?

Perhaps we don’t need to understand one another in order to respect and accept one another. In fact, perhaps the most radical form of coexistence would require us to accept and affirm those who are different from us, specifically when we do not understand. That’s my first response.

I would also offer to that person that each and every one of us are constantly making conscious and unconscious decisions about how we will continue to become who we want to be. We do this in terms of our professions, our occupations, our hobbies, our health, and our bodies. We could think of this as various forms of self-determination: we choose how we will cut our hair and what clothes we will wear; we make choices about exercise in order to support our health and also to shape our bodies in the ways we want them to be shaped; we take pharmaceuticals for any number of reasons that transform our bodies and our physical experiences at molecular and cellular levels; we choose what name we use with friends and colleagues, and sometimes we change our names to reflect changes in our lives, as when people change their names when they get married. Sometimes we seek our medical procedures in order to change our bodies and how we live as them. As we get older, our bodies change, and perhaps we make different choices in all these different areas. We all make choices of self-determination in all kinds of ways, and we do this with our genders as well.

All of us were assigned a gender at birth, a gender we did not choose, and we came into a world in which that gender carries expectations for how we will behave, how we will dress, how we will relate to others, the social roles we might occupy, the opportunities that will or will not become available to us, and so on. All of us feel various degrees of comfort and discomfort in those expectations. I have met very few people who have never felt any friction or frustration with what was expected of them as a girl or woman or as a boy or man. And yet many people find ways to be at ease within the gendered category to which they were assigned. Perhaps they come to identify with those gendered expectations and come to know themselves through those associated roles and behaviors. Or perhaps they find ways to push against, resist, or subvert the expectations of the gender they were assigned: much of the feminist movement has been shaped by people who identify as women challenging what it means to be a woman in our society. Transgender people are people who—in different ways and for diverse reasons—do not feel like they can become who they desire to be within the gender category they were assigned at birth, and they move away from that assignment towards another version of being and becoming themselves. When we understand transgender experiences on this continuum—the continuum on which all of us are just trying to find a place for ourselves in the world—then maybe it can be a little easier to “get it.”

I would be so much more comfortable in a world in which people interacted with me as a person rather than needing to figure out if I am transgender, a woman, or a man.

What are some solutions or practical changes that can be made to traditional society that will help encourage acceptance and understanding of the transgender community?

In December 2014, Leelah Alcorn, a trans teenager in Ohio, posted a suicide note to Tumblr and then committed suicide. I consider every suicide to be an indictment of society to some degree, a society that did not or could not meet the needs of a life that could no longer imagine going on living. Alcorn ended her note with the phrase, “Fix society. Please.” At the time, I wrote this list of suggestions as to how we might begin to fix society, things that each of us could do to examine ourselves within our daily lives. They continue to be relevant when I contemplate this question:

  • Question the certainty of your own gender, where it comes from, and why you believe it to be yourself.
  • Engage the possibility that all genders are processes and approximations that never fully account for all that a person is or might become.
  • Let the world—others and yourself—change; if we all accept that we are all transitioning in any number of ways, we might be more accepting and caring towards people who are trans*.
  • Be willing to experiment with language, to alter your own habits in order to create a space in language for others for whom there have not been words.
  • Let your desire be experimental; do not assume you know who you might love or what you might desire.
  • Do not assume that how you practice your own gender, language, or desire is innocent; be willing to challenge what has felt true if doing so would allow for more livability for others.
  • Grieve losses that might not otherwise be grieved.
  • Be caring, thoughtful, and loving, even if you do not understand (advice from Justin Vivian Bond.)
  • Do not assume you understand, and still be caring, thoughtful, and loving.

What are some of the misperceptions about transgender people that are commonly portrayed in pop culture?

Julia Serano has written critically about media representations of transgender people in her book Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity, particularly two stereotypes that occur in a lot of different films: the deceptive transsexual and the pathetic transsexual. On the one hand, transgender people are represented as deceiving other people, as if they owe other people a disclosure of their gender history. On the other hand, transgender people are often represented as pathetic, as “failing” to fully “pass” as the gender with which they identify.
The misperception of transgender people as deceptive is not only inaccurate, it creates the conditions for violence: if the world believes that transgender people owe them the disclosure of their gender history, then they may feel justified in acting out violently when that history is not given. Due to any number of factors, not the least of which are the possibilities of violence or duress, transgender people face the pressure to disclose their gender history within a range of contexts, particularly within intimate relationships, but also within broader social settings in which a public may ask or demand to know: are you a woman or a man? Transgender people do not owe anyone the disclosure of their gender history, and yet it is expected of them. I think that expectation depends on the assumption that a person’s gender presentation corresponds to a specific anatomy or gender assignment at birth, which is not the case. It’s an assumption that often proceeds from a heteronormative anxiety: for instance, if a straight man finds a woman attractive, and then finds out that she is transgender, his sexuality may take on complexity that he did not anticipate. He may believe that he is owed her disclosure in order to maintain the stability of his heterosexuality, a stability that may be in question if he finds that he has been attracted to someone who is transgender. This would be his anxiety, his problem, his discovery about himself; it is not a transgender person’s job to confirm anyone’s assumptions about themselves or the world, which seems to be the implication when disclosure is demanded.

 

Comedian Louis C.K. recently presented a brilliant sketch that addresses this assumption on Horace and Pete, in which a straight man anxiously questions a woman he’s just slept with as to whether or not she is trans. It is possible that similar scenes might unfold between lesbian transgender women and cisgender women, or between transgender men and cisgender men or women. In these negotiations of attraction and sexual orientation, a transgender person might be perceived as deceptive if they do not immediately disclose that they are trans, when in fact, such a disclosure only becomes necessary if a prospective partner proceeds on the assumption that the person with whom they are engaging is not transgender.

Of course, romantic or sexual intimacy is not the only situation in which a transgender person might be expected to disclose that they are trans. When friends or coworkers are informed that someone they know is transgender, perhaps they might also feel as if they were deceived. Because a person’s gender history or anatomy may not be legible from their appearance alone, people may not necessarily realize that someone they know or meet is transgender; however, it is absolutely necessary to remember that just because we might have assumed that someone is not transgender, that does not mean that person deceived us. Our assumption was in error.

The misperception of transgender people as pathetic is just as damaging. It depends on the assumption that there right and wrong ways to be or appear as a man or a woman, and that if a transgender person does not conform to or achieve those expectations, then they are failing in some way. In these representations, we are shown transgender people—usually transgender women—struggling to be perceived as the gender with which they identify—struggling to “pass” as cisgender. We might be shown a transgender woman struggling to walk in high heels, for example, or perhaps her makeup is not right, or perhaps her voice or the size of her hands or her broad shoulders “give her away” as “not really a woman.” These representations reinforce the beliefs that there are limited ways to be a woman, or that there are physical characteristics that invalidate a trans woman’s gender. One way we are seeing these assumptions shift is the hashtag #TransIsBeautiful launched by actress and producer Laverne Cox. With this hashtag, trans people across social media platforms are sharing images of themselves and others, proliferating diverse media representations of trans people, and affirming that beauty can take many, many forms. I find this hashtag really life-affirming because it claims that those features that make someone identifiable as transgender does not mark them as pathetic or failed; rather, they add to the possibilities of what it can mean to be beautiful as a woman, as a man, or as someone who identifies outside the binary.

It is absolutely necessary to remember that just because we might have assumed that someone is not transgender, that does not mean that person deceived us. Our assumption was in error.

Are there any examples of the transgender community in pop culture that we can reference or look to as examples of discussing or portraying the transgender community with thoughtfulness, equality and understanding?

Definitely! I am a big fan of the web-series Her Story on YouTube, written by Jen Richards and Laura Zak, directed by Sydney Freeland, and staring Richards, Zak, and Angelica Ross. This show is written, directed, and performed by trans people, and offers an accurate, thoughtful representation of trans people’s lives. I’m also an avid viewer of Caitlyn Jenner’s reality docu-series I Am Cait. Jenner has been a media sensation and something of a controversial figure, but what I love about this show is that in its two seasons, it features a range of transgender people living their lives, sharing their perspectives, learning from each other, and building a community together. It’s not without its flaws; it definitely dramatizes conflict and spectacle like most reality television shows, and it tends to idealize luxury and socio-economic privilege. However, it is the only show I can watch week after week that puts transgender people living their lives together at the focal point of a television show. I also recommend the Amazon series Transparent, created by Jil Soloway and starring Jeffrey Tambor. Transparent not only employs a historically unprecedented number of trans people—as both cast and crew—it also tells stories that do not often get told, specifically about transitioning later in life, aging, and navigating family and community. And most people have probably already seen Orange Is The New Black, but I think the show’s depiction of the character Sophia, played by Laverne Cox, is a really responsible representation of a transgender character in a show that focuses almost entirely on the lives of women.

I highly recommend Janet Mock’s New York Times bestselling memoir Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More. It is a remarkably honest, insightful, and accessible account of her own life in her own words. I also recommend Kate Bornstein’s Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us, and Jennifer Finney Boylan’s memoir She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders. I also highly recommend Sam Feder’s documentary film Kate Bornstein is a Queer & Pleasant Danger, in which we get to know this remarkable trailblazer in this transgender community. I think first-person accounts, autobiographies, and memoirs by transgender people are so necessary and vital. They give us an opportunity to know someone who is different from us in their own words at an intimate scale.

I recommend Susan Stryker’s Transgender History to everyone. Although Stryker is an academic scholar, this book is written for a general audience. I think if more people understood the history of gender variance and the emergence of identities like “transgender,” we might experience more understanding and respect.

Then there are countless online resources; here are a few of my favorites:

“As We Are: Zackary Drucker and Hari Nef on getting beyond the gender binary” by Caroline Pham for GOOD Magazine.

“Transgender in the Mainstream,” a panel on transgender visibility in the art world at Art Basel, featuring Juliana Huxtable, Kimberly Drew, Gordon Hall, and David J. Getsy.

“Laverne Cox gives us life advice + talks purses and patriarchy” by Gabrielle Korn for Nylon Magazine.

“bell hooks and Laverne Cox in a Public Dialogue at The New School,” a remarkable public conversation between two brilliant public intellectual women of color.

Above all, I would suggest that the best sources for representing transgender people are those that are made by or with transgender people.

2 thoughts to “Interview: 10 Questions about Transgender Issues with dancer, scholar and activist Michael J. Morris”

  1. Great work, Jackie! These are, and have always been, foundational questions.
    And well answered by Michael.
    I wish I could write like a girl…

  2. I’m late to this, but to me the core question that Transgender awareness brings to society as a whole is: How is gender defined? Western society had a simple definition based on the physical attributes present at birth, then slightly expanded based on the genetic information encoded in the body at birth.
    With the increased recognition of the present and historic transgender people, this definition is necessarily changing, but I am not aware of the new definition of gender. Reading the easily available information online (which is how I found this article) has honestly led to more questions in my mind. Based on the articles on this subject, it appears that Gender cannot be defined by biology, social expectations, or any easily available information. So how is Gender defined? And how do we communicate about the biological and physiological attributes that one is born with?

    Thank you for the information that you shared via your interview as well as any additional information and resources that you can share with me. The elder child of my brother identifies as Transgender as does the eldest child of a dear friend. We both know that understanding is not a requirement for loving and supporting these young people, but I would personally feel more of an ally with increased information.

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