Understanding the Terms Part I
13/05/16 06:06 Filed in: Barrington Brennen
Today, I share with you an interesting article by a pastoral colleague Pastor Barrington Brennen. The article relates to understanding various terms such as transgender, transsexual, transvestite, etc. It occurred to me a few weeks ago, when contacted by a newspaper reporter concerning the church’s position on transgender, I realized that I needed more information. Therefore, when I received an article on “Understanding the Terms,” I thought to share it with you. It is my hope that we will all have a better comprehension of the terms. Because of the length of the article, I will share it in two parts.
Understanding the Terms Part I
By Barrington H. Brennen, May 3, 2016
In this article today, I am simply defining terms that have been used widely in the public these past several weeks. I have noticed that many do not understand the terms and are using them out of context. A clearer understanding of these terms should facilitate a healthier discussion and hopefully better treatment of these individuals.
I will seek to clarify and define the terms transgender, transsexual, intersex, hermaphrodite, transvestites, homosexual, lesbian, bisexual, LGBTQ. I will seek to give a simple, accurate definition of each term with little comment.
The term transgender has been the most misused and most misunderstood word
within the past few months in our country. One expert says that “For transgender people, the sex they were assigned at birth and their own internal gender identity do not match.” Bahamian psychologist, Dr. Edrica Richardson, an American certified marriage and family therapist, who teaches the subject of Sex and Gender Identity in a Florida college states that “Transgenders are not homosexuals by definition. Transgender persons feel they are psychologically born in the wrong body. Yet they are fully biologically male or female. Transgender is not about sexual orientation. Sexual orientation is about who you are attracted to sexually. Transgender is about gender identity—whether or not one biologically feels like a male or female.” It is also imperative to understand that a transgender person is not interssex or transvestite. Note the definitions later in this article.
As indicated earlier many are confusing transgender with homosexuality (gay). Joanne Herman, retired transgender advocate in the United States, wrote an article in the Huffington Post in August of 2011 entitled “Some Transgender People Are Not Gay.” I think it can give some clarity on the topic and will help us understand why so many, even transgenders and homosexuals themselves, are so confused. Here’s the quote: “Back in the 1990’s, lesbian and gay organizations started adding transgender people to their missions. It seemed to be a reasonable expansion — transgender people face many of the same prejudices that gay people do. But much like the general population, most people in the gay and lesbian community did not understand that, while the prejudices were similar, the underlying issue is quite different. Many still don’t understand this. So when the missions were expanded, many gays and lesbians innocently continued saying that their organizations “serve the needs of all gay Americans.” Many still do say this. The result is that many Americans who have heard the word transgender think it means another kind of gay.
The problem is that some transgender people are not gay. Take Chaz Bono for example. Chaz came out as a lesbian in 1995 because, living as a female since birth and being attracted to other females, that made him a lesbian in society’s eyes. It took Chaz until 2008 to realize that he was truly a man. Now, living as a man who is in a relationship with a woman, Chaz is considered by society to be straight.”
Often the terms transgender and transsexual are used interchangeably by
some. As stated earlier, a transgender is a biological male or female who feels the opposite. A transsexual is one who goes through the sex re-assignment surgery to match the gender identity. Note that this is different from homosexuality or lesbianism. Transgender is about what someone feels or think he or she is. Being a homosexual/lesbian is about whom or what gender one is attracted to.
The Wikipedia Online Dictionary states that a transvestite is a “person who sometimes wears clothes traditionally worn by and associated with the opposite sex; typically a male who cross-dresses occasionally by habit or compulsion.” One author states that Transvestite/Cross-dressers don’t associate with the LGBTQ community and don’t see themselves as anything but
straight/heterosexual. Understand clearly that some transgenders dress to match their gender identity (the way they feel sexually) and not their biological sex. These are not transvestites.
To continue next week