Posted by: Emily | 5 February 2013

Trans 101, Up Goer Five style

(My attempt at Trans 101 using only the thousand most common words in English. The creative restrictions made this fun to try.)

Most people think that babies are all either boys or girls. But it turns out that when some baby boys get older they think they would be happier if they were girls, and when some baby girls get older they think they would be happier if they were boys. Sometimes they put on different clothes, or change their names, and some of these people take steps to change their bodies from boy to girl, or from girl to boy. Sometimes people turn out to be not girls, and not boys, but something else. And sometimes the doctors can’t tell whether a baby is a boy or a girl, so the doctors have to guess, but sometimes they guess wrong.

All of this happens a lot of the time, but you don’t often hear about it. And when people talk about it, they often don’t say very nice things about people who need to change themselves so they are happier being a boy or a girl or whatever they want. When other people speak this way about these people, it can hurt very much. Sometimes people get so hurt, they end up hating themselves, and some of them try to kill themselves. All because most people don’t have very nice things to say about people who need to change their bodies.

I am one of these people. When I was a baby, everyone thought I was a boy, and I used to live my life as if I were a boy. But when I got older I learned that I would be much happier if I were a girl, and I would have a much better life if I could live that way. So I started to take these steps to change my body and other things about myself so that I can live as a girl rather than as a boy. Now I talk to other people about what it is like to do this so that I can help them understand a little about what it is like to be a person like me.

It makes me very sad that people don’t always have nice things to say about people like me. Sometimes the things they say hurt. Sometimes they do even worse things. What I want to do with my life is to help make the lives of people like me better, to help them make it easier to change themselves so they will be able to live as happy people, whether they are a boy or a girl or something else. And I also want to help everyone else understand that people like us are normal, that we are human too, and that all we want is to be understood and loved just like everyone else.

(Also check out my friend Tim’s Trans 101 Up Goer Five!)



  1. I didn’t see the stylistic restriction note at first and wondered if it was perhaps a guest writer. 😉 In any case, in the last few months I’ve learned more than I ever have in my thirty something years about ‘trans 101’ and it’s a far better and clearer perspective. Thank you!

  2. Reblogged this on maybe a new leaf and commented:
    This post explaining trans 101 using only the 1000 most common English words is eerily reminiscent of very many real conversations I’ve had with my children:

  3. Very clear!

  4. […] I really love this post in which they describe transgender identity using only the most common words in the English language: Trans 101, Up Goer Five style. […]

  5. I think the simplicity of language makes the message that more powerful. Sometimes the insider vocabulary of a group or movement can be so overwhelming that it creates a significant barrier to would-be allies who want to understand that group better, and it can result in tuning out the discussion, reacting to specific vocabulary, or just ignoring the conversation altogether (I confess these have all happened to me on more than one occasion).

    I think this could actually be a really nice model for lots of people from lots of different communities to start conversations.

    Well done.

  6. Now if anyone says it’s “too complicated to explain to their kids,” give ’em this.

  7. Reblogged this on CrazyQueerClassicist and commented:
    Now if anyone says it’s “too complicated to explain to their kids,” give ’em this.

  8. Oh man, I’ve been struggling to find a way to describe gender to my two and a half year old, in part after an incident in the park where she was told that she must be a boy because she plays with cars and dinosaurs, and therefore is gay. This is brilliant. Thank you!

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