Fast Facts: Gender Identity

A New Vocabulary…

Gender identity is how someone describes their own gender. Generally this is one’s sense of being male or female, but gender identity and expression are fluid and intricate, with many variations . Please read B Stigma-Free’s guest blog article by Irwin Krieger, for a primer on transgender identities and definitions of some common terminology.

LGBTQ – about the T and Q:

T is for transgender. The term Transgender was first used regularly in the 1980s, and describes people whose gender identity is different from the sex they were assigned at birth.

For many years LGBT was the acronym used when referencing people who are gay and transgender. Recently Q was added: Q references both Queer (someone who doesn’t feel like they have a good fit with a gay or transgender identity) and more recently, Questioning. Our Pinterest board has a link to a 2013 NY Times article that delves deeper into this nomenclature, and also newer terminology I and A – as in LGBTQIA.

See B Stigma-Free’s Spotlight on sexual orientation for more information about LGB (lesbian, gay and bisexual.)

Being Transgender Today…

In 2011, the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force collaborated to produce Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey.[i] Data was collected from 6,450 trans- and gender non-conforming people from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam was collected and offers valuable and disturbing insight.

According to Injustice at Every Turn, people who are transgender experience much higher rates of violence, housing instability and homelessness. Results revealed that transgender people were four times more likely to live in extreme poverty compared to the general population. Health outcomes for those surveyed reveal the shocking impact of social and economic marginalization, including much higher rates of HIV infection, smoking and drug and alcohol abuse and suicide attempts than the general population.

Discrimination and the profound effects of stigma and rejection were painfully evident throughout the sample as respondents revealed the following:

  • 41% reported suicide attempts, compared to 1.6% of the general population
  • 55% lost a job due to bias
  • 51% were bullied or harassed
  • 25% were physical assaulted
  • 10% were sexually assaulted
  • 19% were homeless
  • 53% were verbally harassed or disrespected in a public place, including hotels, restaurants, buses, airports and government agencies
  • 63% were seriously discriminated against, compromising their quality of life and ability to be financially or emotionally secure


Bias and discrimination in healthcare systems toward people who do not conform to society’s expectation of gender roles is rampant.  All people should feel safe talking about their sexual partners, sex lives, sexual orientation, HIV status, and gender identity. In order to raise awareness of healthcare providers’ responsibilities and patients’ rights, B Stigma-Free proudly joined sponsor organizations LGBT HealthLink, CenterLink,  volunteer attorney Corey Prachniak and PROMO Fund in support of the Healthcare Bill of Rights.

To become stigma-free, society must recognize the traumatic impact of stigma and discrimination, stop blaming transgender and gender non-conforming people for the violence and rejection they experience and acknowledge the need to accept and embrace different gender identities and expression.

[i] Grant, Jaime M., Lisa A. Mottet, Justin Tanis, Jack Harrison, Jody L. Herman, and Mara Keisling. Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey. Washington: National Center for Transgender Equality and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 2011.

Spotlight Calendar

Each month B Stigma-Free will spotlight a different area for attention. Blog articles, fact sheets and social media emphasis will call attention to the issue of stigma and the identified topic. Do you have suggestions for us to include? Tell us your ideas here.



Past Spotlight Topics: