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What is truscum, and why is it harmful?

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The word “truscum” refers to a group of people who believe there are true transgender people and fake transgender people. It’s pronounced like “true scum.” Their criteria for who they believe do and don’t count as real transgender people can vary. They are proponents of a concept known in the transgender community as gatekeeping: a term referencing systems that...

Gender pride flags and what they mean

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Gender is very nuanced and complex. As you learn more about it, you’re learning about something deep and expansive—like wines, for instance. At first, you might think there’s just white wine and red wine. But there’s a huge variety beyond that. There’s different kinds of grapes, like merlot, carmeniere, sangiovese. There are infinite ways they can blend. The region and...

What does it mean to be cisgender?

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The word “cisgender” refers to any person for whom the gender assigned to them when they were born is accurate to the person that they are. In the 21st-century American culture I live in, all people are either designated to be male or female when they are born. So if a person is cisgender, the male or female designation given to them when they were born turns out to be an accurate...

What does it mean to be transgender?

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You might think the word “transgender” refers to someone who used to be one gender, and then became another gender. That’s actually a common misconception. Transgender refers to any person who was assigned a different gender when they were born than the gender that they really are. This is as opposed to cisgender, which is what our culture typically (and wrongly) assumes...

DFAB, AMAB, DSAB, AGAB? The birth sex acronyms

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There’s a family of terms used in the transgender community to describe what sex and/or gender was prescribed to a person by medical professionals—and subsequently placed on all their legal documentation—when they came into the world. Just about all of these terms are in the form of acronyms. Here’s a quick breakdown of all the most commonly-used ones and what they mean. AFAB and AMAB...

Life and death and love and mace

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If you think someone’s about to attack you, you don’t doubt your instincts. You just make the most effective move within your means. That’s why I’ve chosen to carry mace, and not a gun.* I don’t want my most effective move to be lethal.  It’s only since I became visibly transgender ** that I developed the urge to carry a sidearm.  It’s not that I feel more vulnerable now than I...

When you don’t believe someone who says they’re trans

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When somebody in your life comes out to you as transgender, it’s a big moment. How you respond can change the nature of your relationship with that person forever. It might even end the relationship, whether or not that’s what you want. What they’re saying might seem a little “out there” to you. Maybe you think, “no way—they’ve never shown me any signs of being the gender they’re telling me they...

Gender transition: the most dystopian project I’ve ever managed

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At the beginning of 2019, I came out publicly as agender and took on my gender transition in earnest. I’d known I was agender for a while before that. I’ve been conscious of my lack of gender since I was four years old. I just didn’t have the words for it, and figured that since gender was so important to everyone else, I must just have some loose gender wires that I needed to figure out how to...

How to use they/them pronouns (and why they matter)

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Personal pronouns are the parts of speech we use when we talk about someone in third person. Like in the sentence below: She‘s going camping with John, even though he’s bringing his brother with him. Personal pronouns aren’t a thing cisgender people think much about, because they usually present no problems. But for a lot of gender-nonconforming people, we think about them a lot, because...

What does it mean to be agender?

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Agender: of, relating to, or being a person who has an internal sense of being neither male nor female nor some combination of male and female : of, relating to, or being a person whose gender identity is genderless or neutral Merriam Webster I’m no gender expert. In fact, I don’t even have a gender. You’d be better off calling me a “no-gender” expert. Expert? Still not accurate. That...

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