According to the preeminent Transgender Studies scholar and University of Arizona professor Susan Stryker, there are two conventionally-accepted definitions of the term “transgender”:
- narrow: persons whose gender identity is not consistent with the gender they were assigned or labelled at birth, and who may choose to transition in some way to live as (or “present”) a gender that better aligns with their gender identity. This narrow definition often implies transition between two poles in a gender binary: female-to-male or male-to-female. Thus, it does not describe all gender expansive individuals;
- broad (or “umbrella”): all persons whose gender identities or presentations fall in some way outside the gender binary (woman/man, girl/boy, etc.) This ‘umbrella’ definition includes gender non-binary, agender, bigender, genderqueer, genderfluid, and a host of other people/identities.
In the view of some, “gender non-binary” is a sub-category of the larger umbrella category “transgender.” So, yes, “gender non-binary” is similar to “transgender” (under the umbrella definition of “transgender”). Because the concept of “gender non-binary” was not the focus of my essay, I did not elaborate these definitional nuances. Those interested in learning more are referred to this excellent resource:
Julia Serano's trans, gender, sexuality, & activism glossary
official glossary for Outspoken: A Decade of Transgender Activism and Trans Feminism by Julia Serano - defining…
I stand by my larger point: the conflation of the concepts of “sex” and “gender” in the Trump administration’s redefinition of “sex” within federal regulations is not supported by scientific evidence and threatens to do damage to large numbers of people.
Michael J. Murphy, MA, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of Illinois. He is the author of many book chapters, and encyclopedia and journal articles. Most recently he edited Living Out Loud: An Introduction to LGBTQ History, Society, and Culture (Routledge, 2019). He lives in St. Louis with his husband.