So as many of you may know, the terminology used in the LGBT community is constantly morphing and changing.  While Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual are terms that have become more concrete over time, Transgender (like Intersex) is a term that was coined only 25-30 years ago.  It is only now that the label of Transgender is beginning to get recognition within common everyday circles.  Transgender is an umbrella term used to describe (according to

  • Transsexualism describes the condition in which an individual identifies with a gender inconsistent or not culturally associated with their assigned sex, i.e. in which a person’s assigned sex at birth conflicts with their psychological gender. A medical diagnosis can be made if a person experiences discomfort as a result of a desire to be a member of the opposite sex, or if a person experiences impaired functioning or distress as a result of that gender identification.
  • Cross-dressing refers to the act of wearing clothing and other accoutrements commonly associated with the opposite sex within a particular society. Cross-dressing has been used for purposes of disguise, comfort and as a literary trope in modern times and throughout history.
  • Transvestism (also called transvestitism) is the practice of cross-dressing, which is wearing clothing traditionally associated with the opposite sex or gender.  This is often done in search of sexual gratification or pleasure arousal.
  • Drag queen is a man who dresses, and often acts, like a caricature woman often for the purpose of entertaining.

Many other terms may be thrown in under the Transgender umbrella, but these are the primary categories associated with the label of Transgender.

As a Trans-identified individual working in the therapeutic field, I prefer to focus on labels that empower us as opposed to clump or dismiss us.  A few years back the term Gender Variant was being used to help distinguish Transsexuals from the group.  It seemed to just end up as another umbrella term though and many people had negative reactions to it as it has an isolating connotation.  Sometime last year, I heard the term morph into Gender non-conforming.  This term also struck a nerve with many in our community as it set a precedent that one should conform to the binary gender system.  However, I recently heard a term that, while still somewhat umbrella, I am liking the more I sit with it.  The term to which I refer is Gender Independent.  Within western society, Independence equates to freedom and ability to stand on one’s own.  Independence is highly sought after and valued.  So if someone is Gender Independent, it is implied that they are free and capable of living the gender that best suits them. Another bonus to this term is that with all the pathology surrounding the Transgender term/concept, Gender Independent implies the opposite of pathology(or dependence) and I find it to be somewhat empowering as a Trans-Identified woman.

What are your thoughts on the term Gender Independent?


Cameron Duvall, MS
MFT registered intern (IMF#65656)
30 N. San Pedro Rd, Suite 160
San Rafael, California 94903
(415) 968-9591