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Notice that our gender "norms" are not symmetric. Women have won for themselves the right to a wide range of gender expression. Men have not made a corresponding effort. Most men live within a much narrower range of "acceptable" gender.
Though our culture tends to group characteristics into "masculine" and "feminine," many people find some amount of gender transgression exciting, so there is some crossover between the two categories. Ultimately, gender is a "mix and match" mode of self-expression, and people within our culture are ever finding new ways to express their gender, with exciting subtleties and intriguing implications.
In general, it works best to think of all effects - sexual orientation, gender identity, sexual identity, and any others - as varying along a continuous spectrum of self-expression, rather than in just one of two ways.
Some information borrowed from www.ngltf.org/index.cfm.
Trans people may face a lot of discrimination and misunderstanding due to their gender identity and expression. Children are encouraged to act like the gender they are assigned, no matter what they feel on the inside.
Transgender children may think that during puberty they'll get the bodies that match their feelings. When this doesn't happen depression and anxiety might occur.
Teenagers who identify as transgender may have a hard time finding a support system, being able to dress and act how they want to. Some support systems that exist may require parental consent.
Adults will face major decisions. Many trans people try to live as the gender they are assigned. This can help with securing employment and housing. Yet for many transgender people, this doesn't work. Some may take a steps to change how the world sees and interacts with them (by changing their name, appearance, gender expression, etc.)
Misunderstanding, fear, and ignorance about gender and gender difference can make it hard on trans people. Transgender allies are very important to the community
Accept that people have the right to define their gender regardless of gender assignment and biological sex. Let go of ideas on how gender ought to be.
Respect everyone's gender choices. If you are not sure, ask how a person identifies and which gender pronoun (he, she, ze, hir, etc.) they prefer to use or be referred to as.
Learn all you can about gender and the transgender community.
Stay open to hearing from your trans friends and about gender. Listen if they want to talk about their experiences, and be mindful of whether or not they want their story to be shared.
Information borrowed from University of Wisconsin-Milwalkee.
Anne Lawrence’s Transsexual Women’s Resources: Lawrence is a transsexual physician, and her site focuses on medical issues, but has a large number of useful links.
The following is adapted from "TRANSGENDERISM: Transgressing Gender Norms" by Nancy R. Nangeroni, International Foundation for Gender Education, 1996 (Ninja Design).