Trans 101

Category: History, Science

Contents (Jump to Section)


There are records of trans and gender-divergent people going right back to the earliest days of humanity, from cultures all around the world. The latest scientific evidence suggests that biological sex is not a simple binary but instead more of a spectrum. Yet, despite this our transgender comrades are subjected to intollerance, bigotry and often violence – just for trying to be true to themselves. This course seeks to address misunderstandings about transgender issues and help us all to be better allies to our transgender friends and comrades.

Videos 1 – 6 were created and shared by YGender and Minus18.

The Basics

Being trans, gender identity, and what it’s all about.

Friends & Family

Has someone around you recently come out? There can be a lot to catch up on, so here’s what you need to know.

How To Be An Ally

Now you’ve got the basics down, here’s how to take it to the next level and be an amazing ally to your trans friends!

Relationships, Sex & Love

Sex, Love, and Relationships can be a pretty big part of our lives. Here’s our guide to having a happy, healthy, and fun relationship with someone who’s trans.


Some people think differently, or have different ways of interacting with the world. That’s called being Neurodivergent! And they can be trans too.

People Of Colour

Being trans and a person of colour can intersect in unique ways. Here’s how better include trans people of all backgrounds!


But transgender people are a new phenomena right? Something that has arisen out of liberalism and new surgical techniques? Well, no, not really. There have been records of trans people for as long as humans have been recording their history.


Rebecca R Helm is an Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina Asheville. On 20th Dec 2019 she posted a thread on Twitter giving a brief explanation of the science behind transgender experience. You can see the original here

Friendly neighborhood biologist here. I see a lot of people are talking about biological sexes and gender right now. Lots of folks make biological sex seem really simple. Well, since it’s so simple, let’s find the biological roots, shall we? Let’s talk about sex…

If you know a bit about biology you will probably say that biological sex is caused by chromosomes, XX and you’re female, XY and you’re male. This is “chromosomal sex” but is it “biological sex”? Well…

Turns out there is only ONE GENE on the Y chromosome that really matters to sex. It’s called the SRY gene. During human embryonic development the SRY protein turns on male-associated genes. Having an SRY gene makes you “genetically male”. But is this “biological sex”?

Sometimes that SRY gene pops off the Y chromosome and over to an X chromosome. Surprise! So now you’ve got an X with an SRY and a Y without an SRY. What does this mean?

A Y with no SRY means physically you’re female, chromosomally you’re male (XY) and genetically you’re female (no SRY). An X with an SRY means you’re physically male, chromosomally female (XX) and genetically male (SRY). But biological sex is simple! There must be another answer…

Sex-related genes ultimately turn on hormones in specifics areas on the body, and reception of those hormones by cells throughout the body. Is this the root of “biological sex”??

“Hormonal male” means you produce ‘normal’ levels of male-associated hormones. Except some percentage of females will have higher levels of ‘male’ hormones than some percentage of males. Ditto ditto ‘female’ hormones. And…

…if you’re developing, your body may not produce enough hormones for your genetic sex. Leading you to be genetically male or female, chromosomally male or female, hormonally non-binary, and physically non-binary. Well, except cells have something to say about this…

Maybe cells are the answer to “biological sex”?? Right?? Cells have receptors that “hear” the signal from sex hormones. But sometimes those receptors don’t work. Like a mobile phone that’s on “do not disturb’. Call and cell, they will not answer.

What does this all mean?

It means you may be genetically male or female, chromosomally male or female, hormonally male/female/non-binary, with cells that may or may not hear the male/female/non-binary call, and all this leading to a body that can be male/non-binary/female.

Try out some combinations for yourself. Notice how confusing it gets? Can you point to what the absolute cause of biological sex is? Is it fair to judge people by it?

Further Reading

If you would like to look at this in more detail please see the following,

Scientific American: Sex Redefined: The Idea Of 2 Sexes Is Overly Simplistic Click here
Harvard Blog: Between The (Gender) Lines: the Science of Transgender Identity Click here

Transgender Pregnancy: Moving Past Preconceptions

This article appeared in Healthline. Click here to access.