Transgender is an umbrella term for people whose way to expressing themselves, identity, or behavior is not seen as typical of what is usually associated with their sex. It is often claimed that gender is in one’s mind, while sex refers to physical organs. Gender is an internal sense of being male, female, or other. It can be very complex and certain organizations reflect this. For instance, Facebook features 50 gender options for its users.

Gender is influenced by class, race, and culture because activities, behavior, and attributes seen as appropriate in one group or society may be seen as inappropriate in another.

A man who is attracted to the opposite sex but cross-dresses is an example of transgender. People who consider themselves third gender, gender nonconforming, multi-gendered, two-spirited, or androgynous would also be transgender. There can be great variance from person to person, but each case involves alternating or blending the notions of masculinity and femininity. It has been estimated that less than one percent of all adults consider themselves transgender.


Transsexuals go above and beyond being transgender. These are people who switch sexes. Through surgical procedures or the use of hormones, a person born female can become recognizably male and vice versa. However, genes cannot be changed, and transsexuals cannot acquire the reproductive abilities of their sex of choice.

Sex refers exclusively to chromosomes, internal and external anatomy, and the balance of hormones. Each of us is born as either female or male, with exceptions that are few and far apart. Yet, these can and do exist. A fraction of individuals is born with characteristics of both sexes. These people are known as intersex.

According to the APA, sexual orientation refers to an individual’s “enduring” romantic, physical, and/or emotional attraction to another human being. Transgender people can be gay, straight, bisexual, lesbian, or asexual. Orientation is markedly different from gender, which is mutable.