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!

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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 [email protected]/[email protected], 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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