Whats the Big Deal Anyway?

An introduction to About Trans

Ian Townsley, Associate Editor – About Trans


Let’s start at the beginning. Shall we? What even is a “transgender” person? Is it the drag queen at that club from last week? Or maybe that guy that rang up your groceries that was kinda swishy. How can you tell the difference between who is really trans, and who just might seem a little different?

The best explanation is usually the simplest one, and that holds true in this case as well. A transgender person is someone who does not identify with the sex they were assigned at birth. Seems simple. Right? It may be on the surface, but underneath there are many layers of self-identification. Some may know from early childhood that a mistake was made somewhere along the line. Others may not be able to put a name on it for years, maybe even for most of their lives.  

From the moment we develop external genitalia in the womb, we are given this arbitrary designation. Is it a male or female? There is no question in most minds that what you see is what you get. But what if you know in the depth of your soul that they were wrong? What if you have a penis, but know you are really a girl? What happens if the sex you were labeled isn’t right, but the opposite doesn’t really fit either? How about, when you were born, you didn’t have genitals that could be clearly labeled? In most cases, these people identify themselves as transgender, though the latter two examples might be more applicable to our nonbinary and intersex friends.

Some people who are intersex, or born with reproductive organs that have some male and some female aspects, may identify as transgender. Not all do however. The lines of gender are not clearly drawn. I make this point to give an example of how subjective gender is. It is not as clear as you may have been led to believe. So if some children cannot clearly be called male or female, how does this sync up with what we are told from infancythat there are only two genders?

According to surveys done from 2006-2016, approximately .39% of the US population is transgender. These surveys were conducted by multiple public health institutions, and reflect the most accurate data that can be counted. Despite the fact that we are such a small segment of the population, we have become a target for discrimination around the country. Think of all the times you’ve heard people talking about “bathroom bills” over the last couple of years. It is my belief that this type of hatred against transgender people is based on nothing but fear and ignorance. Hence, this new section!

Our goal here at About is to foster awareness and understanding of all aspects of the LGBTQIA community. Nothing more, nothing less. We strive to educate and promote for a community that is sadly underserved in many ways. The articles in this section will be written by the transgender community, but they are not just for us. These pieces will be intended for everyone, transgender, cisgender, and everyone in between.

You may have many questions about the things you read here. If that is the case, we welcome those questions! Please contact us for anything you would like to understand better. Although it is not the job of the transgender community to educate, we here at About gladly accept the responsibility that this entails. After all, how can we change the world if we don’t share that world with others?

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Ian Townsley
Ian Syder-Blake is an outspoken advocate for the Trans community. He is an award-winning Drag King Illusionist who performs for numerous benefits to serve the trans community in obtaining gender-affirmative surgery.