Trend Watch

Transgender

Lookups surged after a letter from the Obama administration


Lookups for transgender were up 630% over the average on May 13th, following an announcement by the Obama administration that a joint letter from the Departments of Education and Justice would be sent to public schools. The letter directs schools to allow transgender students to use whatever bathrooms match their gender identity. The word trended again on July 28th, after Sarah McBride became the first transgender person to address a major party convention.

protest-in-north-carolina

Image of a protest in North Carolina, April 2016. The national controversy over transgender use of public restrooms has kept the word in our top lookups lately, but it's more than 45 years old.

Transgender is a word that's been in the news a lot in recent months and years, but it's more than 45 years old: our earliest evidence of it in use is from 1970.

In the broadest use of the word, someone who is transgender has a gender identity that differs from the sex the person had or was identified as having at birth.

Transgender: An umbrella term that describes people whose gender identity or expression does not conform to gender norms associated with the sex they were assigned at birth. Transgender does not imply a particular sexual orientation.
— Becca Chase and Paula Ressler, English Journal, March 2009

It's especially used to describe someone whose gender identity is specifically opposite the sex the person had or was identified as having at birth. It has nothing to do with sexual orientation.

Trend Watch tracks popular lookups to see what people are talking about. You can always see all Trend Watch articles here.



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