Defining Transgender (and how it relates to gay weddings)

You may have noticed that the Obama administration recently made a high profile transgender appointment.  It's a giant leap forward for transgender visibility in Washington, DC.  That article I linked to, incidentally, was written by a client of mine, Joanne Herman, author of the book Transgender Explained For Those Who Are Not. I highly recommend her articles and book for no-nonsense, no jargon explanations.

Since many people don't understand what the T is in the LGBT acronym, let me define a few thing

  • Sex:  what is listed on your birth certificate, depends on the sex organs you are born with.  Male and female are sex categories.

  • Gender Identity: the way an individual feels about his or her gender.  This is a broad term and includes male, female, transgender, genderqueer and so on - and may not align with their born sex.

  • Transgender: someone who is born one gender and is living/identifying/expressing themselves as another gender or in a gender ambiguous way (they may or may not have had sex-reassignment surgery).  The T in LGBT = transgender. 

  • Sexual Orientation:  describes who you are attracted to; may be towards males, females or both genders.  

  • MTF:  a transgender person who was born male but lives as a female

  • FTM:  a transgender person who was born female but lives as a male

In the example of my client, her sex at birth was male. Her identity is female. Her sexual orientation is a lesbian.  She is an MTF.

How does this come into play with weddings?  A few things to note:

  • If you are a wedding planner, when screening vendors and scheduling appointments for this client, tell vendors in advance that your client is transgender; even if they are comfortable with the L, G and B couples, they may not be with the T.

  • It's impolite to ask about the transgender client's former name or life prior to their transition.

  • Wedding attire shopping may be complicated and there may be extra sensitivity in the dressing room.  For example, when wedding dress shopping, my client was concerned that her shoulders were too broad for a strapless dress.

  • Some transgender people do not "pass" easily into their new gender but you must respect the new gender regardless of their stage of transition, appearance or voice.

  • There may be extra sensitivity about family involvement or lack thereof.  

I'll have more to add in an upcoming post. 

Do you know anyone who is transgender?  Have you ever worked with a transgender individual who is getting married?