An  Edugraphic  about  Gender 

What does the asterisk in “trans*” stand for?

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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!

There are certainly downsides and upsides to the asterisk (similar to the @ in Latin@/Chican@, like “How do you pronounce it?”; (with the asterisk, you don’t 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.

About Version 2

I updated this graphic, not just visually, but in content in September 2018. Instead of publishing that as a separate post (like how I’ve done with genderbread people), I am just replacing the image on this one instead. Here’s why: Version 2 is…

  • Cuter and easier to implement on a bulletin board or in a classroom (how a ton of people have been using this graphic over the years)
  • Edited based on community feedback, including the removal of “transvestite”; (which was confusing and inaccurate to include, because that’s not a trans* identity – my bad)
  • Easier to print on standard 8.5×11 or A4 paper, instead of tabloid size
Do you want the original, version 1 poster? You can find that here, or as a .pdf here.

Since publishing the first version, “trans*"; got added to the Oxford English Dictionary, which is a big leap forward in layperson accessibility for this grammatical monkey wrench.

For me, intentionally including non-binary identities when talking about trans* issues, instead of perpetuating the societal mental default of binary trans identities (i.e., transmen and transwomen) is worth the extra effort – that is, assuming you’re not just talking about transgender women and transgender men in a given moment. And the Alphabet Soup 2.0s that are popping up (e.g., TGNCNB for “transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary) are creating as many problems as they solve.


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About the Author

Sam Killermann Self Portrait

Hi! I'm Sam Killermann. I'm the author of A Guide to Gender: The Social Justice Advocate's Handbook, and I was featured in Katie Couric's NatGeo documentary "Gender Revolution". I created It's Pronounced Metrosexual in 2011. I write everything here and doodle the doodles myself. Bonus: everything I create is uncopyrighted and freely accessible — I even coded (& open-sourced) this site itself, my gift to you. Read More →

All of my work is directly supported by patronage, so if you appreciate what I'm doing you can pay me to keep doing it. I bet you'll also dig these other things I made: