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What do Conchita Wurst and Rachel Levine have in common?

March, 31st is the International Transgender Day of Visibility and therefore a good reason to report a bit about the topic "transgender" and offer information for everyone who's interested.

What Conchita Wurst and Rachel Levine have in common is quite clear at the second glance: None of them can be pressed into the current stereotypes of being "male" or "female". While the Austrian singer Conchita Wurst is a stage persona with a fictive biography who was created to stand up against the discrimination of homosexual people, the American pediatrician Rachel Levine is the first transgender woman to hold an office that requires Senate confirmation, the assistant secretary for health.

But why are there people who are not sure about their gender? How can knowledge and sensitivity about topics connected to trans*-identities be useful for the reflection about societal and everybody's own gender roles and norms? And what do the terms "trans" and "gender" mean above all?

Welcome to the Transgender Universe!

"Gender" is a term to describe socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities and attributes that society considers "appropriate" for what are thought to be "men" and "women". It is separate from "sex", which is the biological classification of "male" or "female" based on physiological and biological features. In this world, we do not only have "cis-men" and "cis-women" (people whose gender identity matches their biological sex), but there are many more genders that can be found on the universal gender planet!

For naming the different genders, many terms were developped and can be found in the Diversity Glossary of the GDM-K of the FH OÖ. One of them is for example "transgender". The prefix "trans" derives from latin and means "across, over" and "beyond". The term transgender was already used in the 1970s and depicts the crossing of traditional and society-defined gender roles and norms. Trans*people do not or only partly identify with their biological sexual characteristics and therefore live in contrast between the perceived gender and the one they were assigned to at birth.

Everybody who's interested in more information about trans* and connected topics, can find more information here:

Gender Sensitive language and personal pronouns:

Documentaries and newspapers:

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[Translate to English:] Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on unsplash