Lately I’ve seen people explaining this simply as “it’s a more inclusive term” and leaving it at that. But there’s a reason it’s seen as more inclusive: the asterisk. And that asterisk makes an important change to the meaning.
An asterisk is a wildcard character in computing. It means “in place of this asterisk, what follows can be any number of other characters or nothing”.
Most often it’s used in search functions within documents or for files on a PC. Any time you hit Ctrl+F and don’t choose “search for complete word only”, you’re telling the computer to search for *whateveryoutyped*. In english, you’re searching for (any characters)whateveryoutyped(any characters).
It’s also used frequently in programming for text input form validation using something called regular expressions(which is a mind-bending syntax for a beginner and I recommend not googling it unless you’re big on autodidactism(which you SHOULD google)).
As it relates to trans*, if you were to search for “trans” in a system that defaults to not including wildcards (in other words, you checked “Search for complete word only”), it would only find:
But if you searched trans*, it would recognize:
You get the idea.
It started as a somewhat-geeky way of being inclusive of multiple identities at once without listing them individually. For the identities typically included, I think “trans” works pretty well without the asterisk, but for those who do use it, now you know.
i understand that cisgender people often have trouble communicating with trans* individuals. it’s okay that you don’t understand how to go about this, as you’ve grown up in a society which treats you as the default, and trans* individuals as a sort of exotic creature.
the good news is you can overcome this! you can learn to have meaningful relationships with trans* people, and to be an ally or advocate to them if they ask for your help! the bad news is it’s kind of difficult to figure out how to do this because the social norms concerning trans* people are very rigid within our society.
1) don’t ask them about their birth name. especially if you don’t know them. you aren’t going to be calling them by this anyway, so you really don’t need to know, right?
2) don’t treat them like they have a contagious disease. you cannot catch “the trans.” most generally do not bite unless you ask them to. they’re a person just like you, and you don’t want them to avoid shaking your hand for fear of catching “the cis.”
3) genitals are never a good conversation topic. seriously. it’s probably not your business. you wouldn’t go up to someone you thought was cisgender and ask about their trouserbits, don’t do it to someone you think is trans*.
4) don’t ask about surgery or hormones. there used to be stuff here about how they can be hard to obtain, but it wasn’t worded well. some trans* people don’t want them. some trans* people can’t get them. some can/do both or either of those things. it’s still not your business. at all. the state of their body and medical history aren’t your concern.
5) always refer to trans* people by their preferred gender. a trans* woman who has not yet had surgery is already a woman. getting surgery does not magically make her a woman. she already was one, she’s just helping her body match her gender. same with trans* men and nonbinary/agender people. the state of someone’s body doesn’t matter, how they identify does.
6) when in doubt, ask politely. politely is very freakin important there. if you aren’t sure what pronouns someone uses, ask them. if you aren’t sure whether a nickname is okay, ask.
7) if they ask you not to bring something up, don’t bring it up. if someone asks you not to point it out when they’re misgendered, don’t do it. there are certain spaces where they may be safer being misgendered or misnamed. you also should not talk about anything that may remotely qualify as personal to people if your trans* pal has not told you that it’s alright to tell them.
8) if they’re upset about cis people being jerks and say something kinda mean, don’t get mad. it’s not about you. really, i promise. getting bent out of shape over a comment about cis people being giant dicks only proves the trans* person right. you are probably a very supportive friend, and don’t appreciate them making a blanket statement about a group that you belong to, but you need to recognize that a whole lot of cisgender people ARE jerks. a lot of cisgender people are going to be gigantic dicks to your trans* pal and every other trans* person.
9) not all trans* people are the same. we all have different hobbies, interests, opinions, and backgrounds. we’re just as different from one another as cis people are.
10) don’t use slurs. don’t do it. even if your trans* friends say them it is inappropriate for you to do so. slurs include: tr*nny, sh*male, tr*nsvestite (when used in the wrong context), he-she, and sometimes it. your trans* friend may be okay with you using slurs, but i’d advise against doing it altogether, as it is not your business to reclaim these words.
11) don’t out them to people. even if you’re trying to do good and correct people about their pronouns, ask first. they might not want to be outed in certain contexts. i, for example, am alright with my friends outing me when i meet their friends, because i trust their judgment in who they tell and they always do it when i’m there. if i was meeting a complete stranger, i would not want them to out me.
12) if they don’t feel like educating you, don’t push it. your friend may have had a ton of people asking them to explain things that day. when i out myself in classes, i always get a ton of the same questions. it gets really tiring fielding the same questions over and over again. even the most avid educators get tired of answering the same questions again and again.
13) don’t tell them about someone you know who’s trans*. we don’t want to hear about your trans* cousin, or your trans* coworker. plus, when you tell us about them, you usually do it in a very problematic way.
14) under no circumstance should you, a cisgender person, say you understand exactly what a trans* person is going through in their transition because you defy the gender binary in some way. you may be a cis dude who knits, you may be a cis lady who’s a tomboy, but you do not know how it is to be transgender because you aren’t, plain and simple. you can empathize with them based on your experiences of defying the gender binary, but it’s not the same as being transgender.
15) treat them the way you treat your cis friends. this definitely doesn’t mean that you treat them as though they’re cisgender. it means that you respect their privacy, that you stick to their set boundaries, that you don’t make offensive jokes around them unless they said it’s okay, that you don’t assume things about their sexual orientation based on their gender.
i think this is about it, if there’s anything i should add, let me know!
* Asterisk Uses You Should Know *
Sam from It’s Pronounced Metrosexual weighs in on the use of the asterisk in Trans*
Good to know!
- @nataliereed84: Oh, you're cis? Nice to meet you! So, what's your vagina like?
- @nataliereed84: Wow! You look great! I never would have gussed you were cis!
- @Mowgli3: "But how am I supposed to learn what cis bodies are like if I can't ask you everything about yours?"
- @AndyTehNerd: But how can you be sure that's your gender? What if that's just what you were raised to believe?
- @nataliereed84: But are you SURE you want to remain male? How do you know for sure this is right for you?
- @AndersStarmark: Of course I support you. But I just want you tone it down. You're scaring people, and scared people are dangerous.
- @nataliereed84: But "cis" people might regret not transitioning! We need strict criteria for diagnosing cisgenderism to prevent that.
- @AndersStarmark: I don't believe Cises get raped. Who'd fuck one of them?
- @LanaLangton: Yeah you can come clubbing with us but only if you promise to act like a girl.
- @AndersStarmark: This magic ring will keep your gender the way it is.
- @nataliereed84: People with mental health disorders might think they're cis when they're really not. We can't trust their choices.
- @LanaLangton: You must declare your cisism immediately when you meet me or any of my friends else you are deceiving us.
- @nataliereed84: It's not my fault I'm not attracted to cis ppl. I just find your bodies icky. It's just my sexual orientation!
- @nataliereed84: No, but what's your REAL name? You know, the one you actually chose.
- @nataliereed84: Wait, so you think you're a womon-born-womon? Isn't that just equating sex with gender and buying into the patriarchy?
- @LanaLangton: sorry if you find what we say offensive it's just we're not used to actually talking to cis people & its only 'banter'
- @nataliereed84: Look son, I understand you identify as your birth sex, but why can't you just transition to being a butch lesbian?
- @AndersStarmark: No, I'm sorry, you may not use the ungendered restroom. A gendered one? No, never heard of them. Wouldn't work anyway.
- @nataliereed84: Isn't it a bit selfish to go around claiming you're really your birth sex and expect us all to just go along with it?
- @nataliereed84: You may think you're a woman because you're XX, but I think of you as male, and you need to respect my beliefs.
- @nataliereed84: But if we let cis men use the men's room, what's to stop one of them from raping your children!?!?
- @kinetictheorist: I'm glad your granddad died before finding out your cis
- @PeregrineTwist: so you mean your cock is ATTACHED!? How do you sterilise and wash it properly?
- @maeveregan: Oh, your new partner is cis? So do you actually have sex or what?
- @nataliereed84: Son, you say that you're a boy, but I think you're a bit too young to be making that decision.
- @nataliereed84: Honey, I know you think you want to remain male, but are you sure this isn't just a mid-life crisis?
- @AndersStarmark: I'm a psychologist. I can help you cope with your reluctance to transition. Just relax. Let me help.
- @AndersStarmark: You know, for a cis you're pretty attractive. I'd even call you fuckable.
- @MaeveCaitKelly: Wow! You're such a convincing cis person, I just thought you were normal! Well done.
- @sashapixlee: Dude, she looks like she might be cis. Be careful, bro
- @sasugakirin: Just because "grue" is used to hurt you cis people all the time doesn't mean I can't reclaim it.
- @BecciCath: No, Cis Identity Disorder shouldn't be removed from the DSM, I mean, being cis is a lifestyle choice, so u must b mad
- @Dru_Marland: You're cis? -honestly, I'd never have known, you look so good
- @AndersStarmark: If you cis people didn't scare people of we'd have opposite sex marriage a long time ago!
- @Dru_Marland: "Are they real?" (gropes stranger's breasts)
- @AndersStarmark: I think you're taking it a little hard when someone truegenders you. It's just a label, it's nothing serious.
- @LadyJaya: You mean your breasts started growing when you were 12? Can I feel them? They seem so real!
Vocabulary You Should Know (and understand)
Graphic and following text from BASIC RIGHTS OREGON:
You may have heard the word cisgender before, but you may not know what it means. Cisgender is a term used to describe people who, for the most part, identify as the gender they were assigned at birth. For example, if a doctor said “it’s a boy!” when you were born, and you identify as a man, then you could be described as cisgender. In other words, ‘cisgender’ is used to describe people who are not transgender.
So why do we say ‘cisgender’ instead of ‘non-transgender’? Because, referring to cisgender people as ‘non trans’ implies that cisgender people are the default and that being trans is abnormal. Many people have said ‘transgender people’ and ‘normal people’, but when we say ‘cisgender’ and ‘transgender’ neither is implied as more normal than the other.
Using the word ‘cisgender’ is also an educational tool. To simply define people as ‘non-trans’ implies that only transgender people have a gender identity. But that’s not true. Like sexual orientation, race, class, and many other identities, all of us have a gender identity.
Language is important; it defines human relationships. That is why it’s important use language of equality and inclusion.
- Use public restrooms without fear of verbal abuse, physical intimidation, or arrest
- Use public facilities such as gym locker rooms and store changing rooms without stares, fear, or anxiety.
- Strangers don’t assume they can ask you what your genitals look like and how you have sex.
- Your validity as a man/woman/human is not based on how much surgery you’ve had or how well you “pass” as non-transgender.
- You have the ability to walk through the world and generally blend-in, not being constantly stared or gawked at, whispered about, pointed at, or laughed at because of your gender expression.
- You can access gender exclusive spaces such as the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, Greek Life, or Take Back the Night and not be excluded due to your trans status.
- Strangers call you by the name you provide, and don’t ask what your “real name” [birth name] is and then assume that they have a right to call you by that name.
- You can reasonably assume that your ability to acquire a job, rent an apartment, or secure a loan will not be denied on the basis of your gender identity/expression.
- You have the ability to flirt, engage in courtship, or form a relationship and not fear that your biological status may be cause for rejection or attack, nor will it cause your partner to question their sexual orientation.
- If you end up in the emergency room, you do not have to worry that your gender will keep you from receiving appropriate treatment, or that all of your medical issues will be seen as a result of your gender.
- Your identity is not considered a mental pathology (“gender identity disorder” in the DSM IV) by the psychological and medical establishments.
- You have the ability to not worry about being placed in a sex-segregated detention center, holding facility, jail or prison that is incongruent with your identity.
- You have the ability to not be profiled on the street as a sex worker because of your gender expression.
- You are not required to undergo an extensive psychological evaluation in order to receive basic medical care.
- You do not have to defend you right to be a part of “Queer,” and gays and lesbians will not try to exclude you from “their” equal rights movement because of your gender identity (or any equality movement, including feminist rights).
- If you are murdered (or have any crime committed against you), your gender expression will not be used as a justification for your murder (“gay panic”) nor as a reason to coddle the perpetrators.
- You can easily find role models and mentors to emulate who share your identity.
- Hollywood accurately depicts people of your gender in films and television, and does not solely make your identity the focus of a dramatic storyline, or the punchline for a joke.
- Be able to assume that everyone you encounter will understand your identity, and not think you’re confused, misled, or hell-bound when you reveal it to them.
- Being able to purchase clothes that match your gender identity without being refused service/mocked by staff or questioned on your genitals.
- Being able to purchase shoes that fit your gender expression without having to order them in special sizes or asking someone to custom-make them.
- No stranger checking your identification or drivers license will ever insult or glare at you because your name or sex does not match the sex they believed you to be based on your gender expression.
- You can reasonably assume that you will not be denied services at a hospital, bank, or other institution because the staff does not believe the gender marker on your ID card to match your gender identity.
- Having your gender as an option on a form.
- Being able to tick a box on a form without someone disagreeing, and telling you not to lie. Yes, this happens.
- Not fearing interactions with police officers due to your gender identity.
- Being able to go to places with friends on a whim knowing there will be bathrooms there you can use.
- You don’t have to convince your parents of your true gender and/or have to earn your parents’ and siblings’ love and respect all over again.
- You don’t have to remind your extended family over and over to use proper gender pronouns (e.g., after transitioning).
- You don’t have to deal with old photographs that did not reflect who you truly are.
- Knowing that if you’re dating someone they aren’t just looking to satisfy a curiosity or kink pertaining to your gender identity (e.g., the “novelty” of having sex with a trans- person).
- Being able to pretend that anatomy and gender are irrevocably entwined when having the “boy parts and girl parts” talk with children, instead of explaining the actual complexity of the issue.
This is the shit that academicsilence is saying.
So I’m asking allies, cis people who have promised our DMAB sisters their support, STEP UP HERE.
She’s one of Cathy Brennan’s people, and she’s a professor.
Getting in on this now. Sorry. Signal boost to fellow cis allies? Let’s go collect our folks.
a transgender person is still they’re original gender. for example a trans”woman” is still a man, even after they’re surgery and the behavior they wish other people to use around them. a Y chromosome is a Y chromosome; neither science nor surgery will change that. they are there for, by definition, incapable of being lesbians.
@drowzysinceday… just stop.
shame i put gender in the first line instead of sex, it matters not though so come down off your high-horse; my point still stands. anyone born a man will never be able to be a lesbian. biology is biology. you can have you’re own opinions but you can’t have you’re own facts. end of
Just stop, okay? You are being cissexist, dehumanizing and rude. If you’re all about science, then why don’t you read this:
Biologists tell us that sex is a complicated matter, much more complex than what we may have been taught in school. A person has XX chromosomes is generally considered female, while a person with XY chromosomes is generally considered male. However, there are also people who have XXY, XYY, and other variations of chromosomes; these genetic differences may or may not be visibly apparent or known to the person.
Some people are born with XY chromosomes, but are unable to respond to testosterone and therefore develop bodies with a vagina and breasts, rather than a penis and testes. A variation in gender may just be part of the natural order and there are more varieties than we generally realize. People with biological differences in gender may be considered intersex; they may or may not identify as transgender.
There are medical theories about why people are transgender. Some speculate that fluctuations or imbalances in hormones or the use of certain medications during pregnancy may cause intersex or transgender conditions. Other research indicates that there are links between transgender identity and brain structure
So what I’m doing is taking actual photos of myself and drawing over them in GIMP. Sometime in the future I’ll post the photos alongside for comparison, but, not brave enough at the moment. Anyways, there are lots of brave trans folks on tumblr so I thought I’d write what these drawings really are here o.o
I really really love your style! And I’m jealous of your gorgeous long eyelashes heh :3
this is fucking adorable.
agreed, this is very fucking adorable.
10 Gorgeous Women (Who Were Born Male)Many people don’t realize that transsexual models are popping up in magazines and on runways everywhere.
Andrej PejicSerbian Australian model Andrej Pejic is androgynous and famous for his ability to model both male and female clothing. In January 2011’s Paris fashion shows he walked both the men’s and women’s shows for Jean-Paul Gaultier and the men’s shows for Marc Jacobs. He has also ranked #18 on the models.com Top 50 Male Models list while simultaneously being ranked #98 in FHM’s “100 Sexiest Women in the World 2011.” (Link | Via | Photo)
Lea T.Brazilian Lea T. was born Leandro Cerezo in 1981, but that didn’t stop her from becoming one of the most famous transsexual fashion models in theindustry today. Lea has been called the muse of high fashion design houseGivenchy. (Link | Photo)
Claudia CharriezHard to believe that Claudia Charriez was born a man, right? Her transsexuality has not stopped her from becoming an international model. Charriez was kicked off of America’s Next Top Model and The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency TV shows in 2008, but went on to win the America’s Next Top Transsexual Model contest on The Tyra Banks Show later that year. (Link | Photo)
Isis KingBorn Darrell Walls in 1985, American model Isis King gained notoriety when she became the first transgender contestant ever to appear on the modeling reality show America’s Next Top Model. King competed on two seasons of the show. (Link | Photo)
Florencia De La VArgentinian Florencia De La V began life in 1976 as Roberto Carlos Trinidad, but she has since gone on to be one of the most recognizable transgendered actresses in the world. De La V has appeared on soap operas, in magazines, in clubs, and was once the editor of a magazine. She is currently married to a man and the mother to twin babies conceived via surrogate. (Link | Photo)
Sirapassorn AtthayakornThailand’s own Sirapassorn (AKA Sammy) Atthayakorn was named Miss International Queen in 2011’s pageant. (Link | Photo)
Chamila AsankaSri Lankan model Chamila (AKA Chami) Asanka is an up-and-comer in the world fashion industry. She was also a 2011 contestant in the Miss International Queen pageant. (Link | Photo)
Caroline “Tula” CosseyCaroline “Tula” Cossey (nee Barry Kenneth Cossey) is an English model who is one of the best-known trans women in the world. Cossey had a small role in the James Bond movie The Living Daylights, posed for Playboy, and wrote an autobiography about her experiences as a transsexual model and actress called “I Am A Woman.” (Link | Photo)
Roberta CloseBrazilian model Roberta Close was the first pre-operative transsexual model to pose for the Brazilian edition of Playboy magazine. After undergoing gender reassignment surgery in 1989, Close posed nude for a Brazilian men’smagazine called Sexy and was then voted “Most Beautiful Woman in Brazil.”(Link | Photo)
India’s Malika is a trans woman who has undergone four surgeries and countless other medical procedures to become the woman she feels she was meant to be at birth. In 2011 she became the first Indian to be chosen to compete in the annual Miss International Queen competition in Thailand, abeauty pageant for transgendered people. (Link | Photo)
10 Handsome Men (Who Were Born Female)These ten men are all successful, handsome, and accomplished in their chosen fields. They were also all born as women!
Balian BuschbaumBalian Buschbaum was born in 1980 as Yvonne Buschbaum, and he is a former German pole vaulter. Though he was the second best female pole vaulter in Germany, in 2007 Buschbaum announced his retirement due to a persistent injury. He also expressed his desire to begin gender reassignmenttherapy. In 2008 he officially changed his name and underwent gender reassignment surgery to become a man. (Link | Photo)
Buck AngelAdult film maker and transsexual Buck Angel is an icon in the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community. Buck was the 2007 winner of the Adult Video News Award “Transsexual Performer of the Year”. He currently works as an advocate, educator, lecturer and writer, and runs his own production company. (Link | Photo)
Loren CameronLoren Rex Cameron is an American photographer, author and transsexual activist. His work includes portraiture and self-portraiture which consist of lesbian and transsexual bodies; he documented his own physiological transition from female to male. Cameron’s photography captures images of the transsexual body that “provide an affirming visual resource for transgendered people and to demystify the transsexual body for the non-transgendered viewer.” (Link | Via)
American Ian Harvie is a stand-up comedian who often uses his transsexuality as material in his act. He has performed with Margaret Cho and many other notable celebrities and is a well-known fixture in the LGBT pop culture community. (Link | Photo)
Lucas SilveiraBorn in Canada in 1979, Lucas Silveira made history being the first openly-trans man to be in a rock band which was signed by a major record label. Silveira is a vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter for The Cliks, he has also released a new solo album which is available now.
Photo credit: Skye Chevolleau (Link)
KatastropheRocco Kayiatos is known as Katastrophe, an American hip-hop rapper and producer. Kayiatos is widely credited as the first openly transgender singer in the hip-hop genre. (Link | Via | Photo)
Thomas BeatieThomas Beatie gained international attention for being the one of the world’s most visible “pregnant” men. Born female, Beatie lived his life as a woman until his mid-twenties. He then began taking male hormone therapybut decided to retain his female sex organs so that he and his wife, who could not conceive herself, could have children together using donor sperm. Beatie has since had three children and is back on his male hormones.(Link | Photo)
Ryan SallansRyan Sallans was born as Kimberly Ann Sallans, and he is now a LGBT rights advocate and public speaker who travels the U.S. to educate people about transgender issues and changes to the health care system. He underwent his transformation from female to male over the course of several years and completed his transition in 2005. Sallans has been featured on “Larry King Live!” and the LOGO channel, as well as countless magazines and other publications.
(Link | Photo)
Andreas KriegerAndreas Krieger was a German shot putter who competed as a woman on the East German athletics team. From his early teens he was given
anabolic steroids without his knowledge, which lead him to become more and more masculine in appearance and attitude. Krieger retired from the sport in 1990 and underwent sex reassignment surgery in 1997, and he has publicly said that he wishes he hadn’t been drugged so that he could have discovered for himself what his gender preference was. (Link | Photo)
Chaz BonoChaz Bono was born Chastity Bono, the daughter of famous Americanperformers Sonny and Cher. Raised in the public eye, Chastity came out as a lesbian when she was 25 before realizing that she was actually a transgender. Chaz underwent a sex change operation over the course of two years and is now happily living his life as a man. Chaz went on to be a contestant on the hit television show, Dancing With The Stars. (Link | Photo)