Who or What Is a Transgender Person and Why Should Anyone Care?

AuthorAlly Windsor Howell
ProfessionFormer practicing lawyer from Alabama
To paraphrase American playwright, performer, feminist, and activist Eve
Ensler, transgender persons are immigrants into the world (read culture)
of women and men. And immigrants are always hated, mistreated, and not
appreciated when they  rst arrive.
Like other societies, the United States uses a binary system of gender
in which being either male or female has great consequences. This binary
system and its corollary system in which a “normal” society is made up of
only couples comprising one man and one woman are the subject of much
study and disputation. The most noticeable example of this is the rancorous
public debate over same-sex marriages. Some say transgener persons, gays,
and lesbians are not “normal.” But to quote my favorite twentieth-century
philosopher Erma Bombeck, “‘Normal’ is just a setting on a clothes dryer.”
But there is also another debate about sex and gender, one that is not get-
ting the same television and print media attention as the same-sex marriage
debate. It centers on the issue of whether transgender persons are male or
female for various legal purposes.
Who or What Is a
Transgender Person and
Why Should Anyone Care?
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