Gender Identity - One's innermost core concept of self which can include male, female, a blend of both or neither, and many more - how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves. One's gender identity can be the same or different than the sex assigned at birth. Individuals become conscious of this between the ages of 18 months and 3 years. Most people develop a gender identity that matches their biological sex. For some, however, their gender identity is different from their biological or assigned sex. Some of these individuals choose to socially, hormonally and/or surgically change their appearance to more fully match their gender identity and some do not.
Cisgender - Refers to people whose sex assignment at birth corresponds to their gender identity, and often times their expression (cis-from Latin meaning "on the same side (as) "or" on this side (of)." In contrast to trans - from the Latin root meaning "across," "beyond" or "on the opposite side.")
Gender Fluidity - Gender fluidity conveys a wider, more flexible range of gender expression or identity, with interests and behaviors that may change, even from day to day. Gender fluid children do not feel confined by restrictive boundaries of stereotypical expectations of girls or boys. In other words, a child may feel that they are a girl some days and a boy on others, or a combination, or possibly feel that neither describes them accurately.
Transgender - Sometimes used as an umbrella term to describe anyone whose identity or behavior falls outside of stereotypical gender norms. More narrowly defined, it refers to an individual whose gender identity does not match their assigned birth sex. Being transgender does not imply any specific sexual orientation (attraction to people of a specific sex and/or gender). Therefore, transgender people may additionally identify with a variety of other sexual identities as well.
Gender Expression - Refers to the ways in which people externally communicate their gender identity to others through behavior, clothing, hairstyle, voice and other forms of presentation. Gender expression also works the other way as people assign gender to others based on their appearance, mannerisms, and other artificially gendered characteristics. When referred to as a "culturally constructed concept," gender expression is most often the dimension being described. Gender expression should not be viewed as an indication of sexual orientation.
Sexual Orientation - Term that refers to being physically, romantically or sexually attracted to people of a specific gender an/or sex. Our sexual orientation and our gender identity are separate, distinct parts of our overall identity. Although a child may not yet be aware of their sexual orientation, they usually have a strong sense of their gender identity.
41% of transgender or gender nonconforming people attempt suicide, compared to only 1.6% of the general population, according a 2011 survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality. That frightening number skyrockets to 51% if the person is subjected to bullying or harassment, and to 61% if they are the victim of physical assault.
Rejection at home sharply exacerbates that risk. LGBT youth from “highly rejecting” households are more than 8x more likely to attempt suicide than those in supportive households, according to a 2009 study by researchers at San Francisco State University’s Family Acceptance Project.
According to the United States Center for Disease Control (2014), compared to non-LGBT children, LGBT children who felt high levels of rejection were:
- About 6x more likely to be seriously depressed
- More than 8x more likely to attempt suicide
- More than 3x more likely to abuse illegal drugs
- More than 3x more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior
Transgender youth also skip school to avoid encountering bullies. One study found that more than half of transgender students skip school on a regular basis (Greytak, Kosciw, and Diaz 2009). These students are already at risk, and failing academically sets them up for a difficult adulthood. Schools should be safe places, and there is really no excuse for teachers and school administrators to be complacent when faced with these horrific statistics.
Nearly half of young transgender people have seriously thought about taking their lives, and one quarter report having made a suicide attempt.
We must do something...