A transgender individual is someone who identifies with a different gender than the one they were assigned at birth. To understand this better, it can help to be very clear with our language.
“Sex” is a medical term that refers to a person’s genetic, hormonal, and physical characteristics, both internal and external. When a baby is born, their sex is assigned based on the physical characteristics that can be seen at birth.
“Gender” refers to a person’s sense of their own identity, their internal sense of self. For some people, their sex and gender line up. They were identified as male or female at birth and that identification feels right to them. We refer to these people as being cisgender. For other people, their gender identity is different than the sex they were assigned at birth. This is the experience of transgender people.
Some transgender people identify with the opposite gender from the one they were assigned at birth: a child is born and designated as female, but identifies as male. Other transgender individuals may identify as non-binary, meaning they don’t identify as entirely male or entirely female; gender fluid, meaning their gender identity changes; agender, meaning they don’t identify with a gender; or more. There are many different gender identities that can fall under the umbrella term of transgender.
If you want to understand more about what it means to be transgender, there are many wonderful resources available including:
Gender Spectrum has many wonderful educational articles about transgender identity:
Gender Spectrum’s “Gender 101” page:
Gender Spectrum’s “Gender Basics” video:
Gender Spectrum’s YouTube channel:
The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Osteopathic Pediatricians, and the Human Rights Campaign created a wonderful guide for families of transgender children:
Central Toronto Youth Services has a fantastic guide for families of trans youth: