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What Is the Definition of "Transgender?"

The term transgender refers to people whose sense of their own gender differs from what would be expected based on the sex characteristics with which they were born.

A transgender person may identify as a trans woman, meaning someone whose self-concept is female; and wishes to or has transitioned to living as a woman after being born with male genitalia. A trans man identifies as male despite having been born with female genitalia. A person who is non-binary, does not identify as strictly a man or a woman.

Beginning as early as childhood, a transgender person may have persistent feelings of gender dysphoria—a disconnect between the person's primary and secondary sex traits and designated gender and the gender with which that person identifies. While many children who experience such feelings do not go on to identify as transgender in adulthood, long-standing gender dysphoria is a common experience among adults who do identify as transgender.

Do You Have to Transition to be Trans?

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Transgender individuals may transition socially and/or physically in ways they feel are congruent with their identity. This might include physical procedures (involving surgery or hormone therapies), changes in the way one dresses or behaves, and new markers of identification (such as a different name or gender-related pronouns). A person may also identify as transgender without making such changes.

Transsexual is an older term used by some to refer specifically to those who seek or have undertaken a medical intervention to change their bodies.

And, distinct from transgender people, cross-dressers identify with the gender label they receive at birth but occasionally wear clothing associated with a different gender.

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