Although Transgender makes up the T in LGBTQ, Transgender, as a term, does not define someone’s sexual orientation and this has led to much confusion.
Transgender identity is completely different from sexual orientation. People often associate someone’s biological sex to assume whom a person likes, normally someone of the opposite sex. This is a very heteronormative view that makes assumptions that most individuals are cisgender: someone whose gender identity matches their assigned gender at birth.
Transgender relates to a person’s gender identity. “Transgender” is a term used by individuals whose gender identities or gender expressions are different from their assigned sex at birth. These individuals may include people who feel that the sex they were assigned at birth does not match the gender that they are supposed to be or feel that they are.
As such, transgender people may choose to express their true gender identities by dressing and exhibiting behaviors and mannerisms that suit their gender. It is good faith to ask someone what their pronouns are and what labels should be used when addressing them. (This is a good practice for all people to get into.) Mistakes may be made along the way but making the effort to address someone with their pronouns validates their gender identity, shows that you support them, and is greatly appreciated.
Gender identity and sexual orientation are different aspects of a person’s identity.
A transgender person’s sexual preference is also a part of their identity. Transgender people can be gay, straight, bisexual, or queer, (or asexual!) and their sexual preferences do not rely on how they express their gender identity.
Gender identity and sexual preference may intersect but gender identity does not define who someone prefers romantically, nor does sexual preference establish someone as female or male.
There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to sexual orientation or gender identity. Establishing one’s identity can be a confusing and stressful experience. Society does not make the process any easier.
It is ingrained in us, as youths, that a man, born biologically male, and a woman, born biologically female, are supposed to be the ideal, end goal for what is considered socially accepted relationships. However, just because someone was born biologically male or female, they should not be restricted to simply loving someone of the opposite sex. They should be allowed to love, whomever they love, and/or express themselves based on whomever they feel they are gender-wise.
Information from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey has found that the sexual orientation percentage of survey respondents was: 23% identified as straight, 23% identified as gay, lesbian, or same gender loving, 25% bisexual, 4% asexual, 23% queer, and the remaining 2% identified as being trans-attracted.
With all the questioning that comes with identity searching, a small percentage of individuals have been seen to shift their sexual orientation. Some people may find an identity that they are comfortable with and then years later, find another that best suits them entirely. This is completely normal, and it comes about when someone is able to express their true gender identities or goes through new discoveries in life.
There are multiple organizations that aim to fight for the rights of Transgender people and online resources that focus on educating the public on Transgender matters. To learn more about the Transgender community and being an ally: GLAAD, National Center for Transgender Equality, Planned Parenthood, Human Rights Campaign. In addition, the American Psychology Association has a great catalog of information to questions about Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.
If you are a Transgender individual that needs emotional or financial support: Call (877) 565-8860 or visit the website Trans Lifeline.
This post was written by intern Ariela Hadiwidjojo.