Monthly Meeting Reflections: Transgender 101

e.shor, MPH

Population Health Service Fellow

HIV/AIDS Department, Division of Public Health

Madison, Wisconsin

I promised I would update you on the transgender 101 portion of our last monthly meeting! I don't break promises.

For our skill building section of the meeting we learned about gender identity & transgender identities. There are a lot of reasons we did this:
  • It is important
  • People in your life and in your workplace may identify as transgender
  • Gender is a part of life that impacts EVERYONE
  • Everyone has a gender identity
  • It is respectful to use the correct name and pronouns for people
  • I respectfully demanded that we do it :)
There are many ways to define transgender and it can be very personal to some to define it for themsleves. That being said, transgender often refers to a person whose gender identity is different from the sex they were assigned at birth. Let's unravel some of this a little more...

I bet you are wondering...what does this mean for me?
Well...more likely than not you probably know some who identifies as transgender, and even if you do not, it is still important to be respectful of everyone you meet by not making assumptions you know anything about their gender identity based on their gender expression or biological sex.
Practically this means, asking HOW someone prefers to be called. For example, my name is e.shor and I prefer to be called by that name or shor, and I also prefer that you use my name or gender neutral pronouns like they/them/their. Here is how to talk about me: Did you see that awesome new haircut e.shor has. I wonder if they went to the salon on Willy St. or if they got their haircut by a friend?
Now, the hardest part about this for many people is reframing how you conceptualize gender altogether. We are often socialized in our homes, schools, places of worship to see gender as binary (male or female) and inextricably linked to sex. Think about all the things that you have been taught about gender in your life...
So you are probably wondering now...well why is this on a public health blog?
There are many reasons. One of which is that transgender health is a public health issue and a health equity issue.
More on that another time...