I have read and reviewed the GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) Media Reference Guide regarding the Transgender Glossary of Terms. This is currently located at http://www.glaad.org/page.aspx?pid=376 and my quotations from this were taken on July 19th, 2011.
The classification of people as male or female. At birth, infants are assigned a sex based on a combination of bodily characteristics including: chromosomes, hormones, internal reproductive organs, and genitals.”
The classification of male or female. Sex is primarily based on the following factors: chromosomes, hormones, and anatomy.
Recommended Addition: Sex Identity— One’s internal sense of sex.
Recommended Addition: Gender — The classification of masculine or feminine. These refer primarily to behavioral, social, and cultural attributes for what is common for one’s sex.
One’s internal, personal sense of being a man or a woman (or a boy or girl.) For transgender people, their birth-assigned sex and their own internal sense of gender identity do not match.”
Recommended Revision: Gender Identity — One’s internal sense of being masculine or feminine.
External manifestation of one’s gender identity, usually expressed through “masculine,” “feminine” or gender variant behavior, clothing, haircut, voice or body characteristics. Typically, transgender people seek to make their gender expression match their gender identity, rather than their birth-assigned sex.”
Recommended Revision: Gender Expression — The manner in which one demonstrates his or her gender.
Describes an individual’s enduring physical, romantic, emotional and/or spiritual attraction to another person. Gender identity and sexual orientation are not the same. Transgender people may be heterosexual, lesbian, gay, or bisexual. For example, a man who becomes a woman and is attracted to other women would be identified as a lesbian.”
Recommended Revision: Sexual Orientation — One’s attraction to the sexes where heterosexual refers to the state of being primarily attracted to the opposite sex, homosexual refers to the state of being primarily attracted to the same sex, and bisexual refers to the state of being attracted to both sexes in varying degrees.
An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. The term may include but is not limited to: transsexuals, cross-dressers, and other gender-variant people. Transgender people may identify as female-to-male (FTM) or male-to-female (MTF). Use the descriptive term (transgender, transsexual, cross-dresser, FTM or MTF) [italics removed] preferred by the individual. Transgender people may or may not choose to alter their bodies hormonally and/or surgically.”
Recommended Revision: Transgender — This refers to the state of one’s gender (including gender identity and expression) differing from what is common for one’s sex.
An older term which originated in the medical and psychological communities. Many transgender people prefer the term “transgender” to “transsexual.” Some transsexual people still prefer to use the term to describe themselves. However, unlike transgender, transsexual [italics removed] is not an umbrella term, and many transgender people do not identify as transsexual. It is best to ask which term an individual prefers.”
Recommended Revision: Transsexual — One whose internal sense of sex is different from the sex that has been assigned to them.
DEROGATORY see Cross-Dressing [italics removed]”
Recommended Revision: Transvestite — Synonym for crossdresser. See Crossdressing.
Altering one’s birth sex is not a one-step procedure; it is a complex process that occurs over a long period of time. Transition includes some or all of the following cultural, legal and medical adjustments: telling one’s family, friends, and/or co-workers; changing one’s name and/or sex on legal documents; hormone therapy; and possibly (though not always) some form of surgical alteration.”
Recommended Revision: Transition — The process in which one changes his or her sex from what has been assigned to them and/or the process in which one changes his or her gender role from what has been assigned to them and expected of them. These processes include but are not limited to disclosing to others his or her plans to transition, changing one’s name and/or sex on legal documents, undergoing hormone replacement therapy, and undergoing sex reassignment surgery as well as surgeries and/or other procedures that assist in the transition.
“Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS)”
Refers to surgical alteration, and is only one small part of transition (see Transition [italics removed] above). Preferred term to “sex change operation.” Not all transgender people choose to or can afford to have SRS. Journalists should avoid overemphasizing the importance of SRS to the transition process.”
Recommended Revision: Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) — One or more surgical procedures for the purpose of changing the primary sex organs from one sex to the other sex as much as is possible with current technology.
To occasionally wear clothes traditionally associated with people of the other sex. Cross-dressers are usually comfortable with the sex they were assigned at birth and do not wish to change it. “Cross-dresser” should NOT be used to describe someone who has transitioned to live full-time as the other sex, or who intends to do so in the future [bold emphasis removed]. Cross-dressing is a form of gender expression and is not necessarily tied to erotic activity. Cross-dressing is not indicative of sexual orientation.”
Recommended Revision: Crossdressing — This refers to the practice of wearing clothing and/or accessories typically worn by the other sex. Some individuals refer to themselves as crossdressers while others refer to themselves as transvestites–the synonym of crossdresser.
“Gender Identity Disorder (GID)”
A controversial DSM-IV diagnosis given to transgender and other gender-variant people. Because it labels people as “disordered,” Gender Identity Disorder is often considered offensive. The diagnosis is frequently given to children who don’t conform to expected gender norms in terms of dress, play or behavior. Such children are often subjected to intense psychotherapy, behavior modification and/or institutionalization. Replaces the outdated term “gender dysphoria.””
Recommended Revision: Gender Identity Disorder (GID) — A diagnosis included in the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders). This diagnosis is frequently used for the purpose of determining a patient’s eligibility for hormone replacement therapy and sex reassignment surgery.
Describing a person whose biological sex is ambiguous. There are many genetic, hormonal or anatomical variations which make a person’s sex ambiguous (i.e., Klinefelter Syndrome, Adrenal Hyperplasia). Parents and medical professionals usually assign intersex infants a sex and perform surgical operations to conform the infant’s body to that assignment. This practice has become increasingly controversial as intersex adults are speaking out against the practice, accusing doctors of genital mutilation.”
Recommended Revision: Intersex — This refers to one with physiological characteristics of both sexes and/or ambiguous sex characteristics including but not limited to chromosomal variations and the presence of ambiguous sex organs or sex organs of both sexes.
I think the GLAAD Media Guide as referenced and quoted above is an example of both political bias and intellectual laziness. So much of the terminology is blended together especially by often treating sex and gender as the same thing. All this guide does is make an already confused public more confused. I do not personally think these concepts are very difficult to understand. A person does not have to take a college course to have a basic grasp on sex, gender, and its related diversity. Such a media guide should simply define the terms without all of the recommendations and unrelated information. If people simply understand what the words mean then they can easily understand the concepts behind them.
The main bias I notice with the current guide is an anti-medical agenda. It attempts to erase the word transsexual and minimizes the importance of medical treatments by making SRS seem insignificant and by essentially dismissing the GID diagnosis altogether. I certainly think that transsexualism should be taken out of the DSM and treated strictly as a medical issue but that is not something that even needs to be discussed in a simple terminology guide. The way in which the guide uses the term transgender to include just about all of the other terms also serves to erase the medical needs of those with transsexualism by comparing these needs to gender behavior. Furthermore, instead of them comparing any of these things to sex, they compare them to birth sex. The main result of this is that it treats a transsexual who has transitioned as someone who is permanently transgender. The way in which I defined these terms allows for a transsexual person to no longer be transsexual after transition. The whole point of transition for a transsexual is to be complete in his or her sex not to perpetually remain in limbo. It is also worth noting the fact that the media guide attempts to erase the term transvestite even though there are crossdressers who prefer that term to describe themselves.
I believe this guide is written as an attempt at both gender deconstruction of society as well as to increase the number of people as well as the length of time those people are included under the LGBT umbrella (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender). The de-medicalization of transsexualism into a gender agenda aims at actually deconstructing the sexes as now nobody is really male or female but somewhere in between. Plus, by including practically everything as transgender or gender variant, now practically everyone would fall under the T and thus under LGBT. I do not think this is all a coincidence. I think there is a deliberate agenda behind this and primarily a destructive force. The guide basically exploits the medical conditions and birth challenges of intersex and transsexual people for the purposes of this gender deconstruction and at the same time tries to stamp out the scientific and medical legitimacy of those conditions. For those who think I’m way off track here, do me a favor and read that GLAAD guide closely. Read between the lines. It isn’t just what is being said, it is what is not being said.
Britney AustinFeel free to distribute my recommendations (with credit given to me). Feel free to post feedback including constructive criticism.