A few people have asked why I write “trans*” (with the asterisk) instead of just “trans” when referring to trans* folks on my site. Well, I’m happy to answer that!
Trans* is an umbrella term that refers to all of the identities within the gender identity spectrum. There’s a ton of diversity in the different identities there, but we often group them all together (e.g., when we say “trans* issues). In this way, trans (without the asterisk) can be intentionally used to describe trans men and trans women, while the asterisk makes special note in an effort to include all transgender, non-binary, and gender nonconforming identities, including (but not limited to) transgender, transsexual, transvestite, genderqueer, genderfluid, non-binary, genderfuck, genderless, agender, non-gendered, third gender, two-spirit, bigender, and trans man and trans woman.
The origin behind the asterisk, as I understand it, is a bit computer geeky. When you add an asterisk to the end of a search term, you’re telling your computer to search for whatever you typed, plus any characters after (e.g., [search term*][extra letters], or trans*[-gender, -queer, -sexual, etc.]). The idea was to include trans and other identities related to trans, in the most technically awesome way. I <3 Geekdom.
There are certainly downsides and upsides to the asterisk (similar to the @ in Latin@/Chican@, like “How do you pronounce it?“, and it’s not for everyone, but you can investigate and weigh the pros and cons and decide for yourself.
I created the graphic above to help raise awareness of this so folks can be more inclusive in their writing when referring to trans* people. Share the original post on Facebook if you pledge to write “trans*” from now on.
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