When we talk about gender, often people think about being "male" or "female" because of the body parts we are born with. However, a person's gender can be much more complex.
Many people, including leading doctors and psychologists, are seeing gender as a spectrum - especially as not everyone has a body that fits perfectly into our definition of "male" or "female".
"We used to think it was pretty straightforward. X and a Y chromosome for males. Two Xs for females. But we see more combinations than that in real life and even for people with just two sex chromosomes, hormones can vary widely, so can anatomy. What makes someone male or female isn't so clear cut."
- Bill Nye
Some people who are assigned male at birth may later on realise that they are female, and some who are assigned female at birth may realise that they are male. Others may realise that they don't identify with being male or female.
Many transgender people have "gender dysphoria" which means feeling discomfort with the gender they were assigned at birth. For some, it can vary between occasional frustration, and extreme constant distress.
"Trans and non-binary people's general health needs are the same as anyone else's. But trans people may have specific health needs in relation to gender dysphoria or gender reassignment, or confirmation."
Transgender people have always existed, but some think that it's becoming more "common" or accepted as social media makes it easier for us to share our experiences.
It's important that we respect and believe the gender people say they are, just like you'd like people to believe what your name is.
some terms that may come in useful;
This refers to people who don't identify with the gender they were assigned at birth.
A person who is assigned female at birth, but identifies as male would usually consider themselves as a transgender male.
Likewise, someone who is assigned male at birth, but identifies as female would usually consider themselves as a transgender woman.
However, there are multiple kinds of identities a transgender person may have.
Non-binary refers to people who don't identify as either male or female.
Many types of identities fall under the non-binary umbrella and can sometimes feel like an easier term to use if others aren't familiar with more complex or uncommon genders.
Some people have no relationship with any gender (agender) and some people feel like they are a balanced mix of male and female.
Some people feel more male one day, and more female the next (gender-fluid), whilst others may feel that they are a completely different gender to 'male' or 'female'.
This refers to people who do identify with the gender they were assigned at birth.
A person who is assigned female at birth, and is happy with that term or label, would be a cisgender female.
Likewise, someone who is assigned male at birth, and is happy with that term or label, would be a cisgender male.
Some people worry that this term is used as an offensive slur, but it is just a descriptive word to avoid using the term "normal" when referring to people who are not transgender.