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Abstract

Disasters do not affect people equally. This is not due to external circumstances that are beyond human
control; disaster vulnerability is socially constructed. This means that due to the social and economic
circumstances of everyday living, certain categories of people, such as the transgender population, are at a
greater risk during emergency situations and throughout the disaster response process. Transgender
people are individuals whose lifestyles conflict with the gender norms of society, for this reason they are
systematically disadvantaged due to inequalities in access to resources, services and opportunities. Given
that vulnerabilities determine a groups ability to cope with and overcome disaster, the transgender
populations ability to cope is severely handicapped by their exacerbated vulnerability. The stigma and
discrimination that transgender people are subjected to makes them absent from the design of disaster
mitigation/ response programs, hampering their ability to overcome the negative effects of a disaster.
Thus far, gender-sensitive conflict management principles and strategies focus on curtailing the
disproportionate effects that disasters have on women relative to men. This paper does not intend to
downplay the vulnerability of women and girls. No one denies that knowledge of how conflict affects
women differently from men will improve emergency management by addressing the root causes of
vulnerability including social and gender inequalities. This paper aims to highlight the need for a much
more inclusive understanding of gender. The term gender is often misunderstood to signify the
promotion of womens rights and equality. This misguided interpretation of the term obscures the socially
constructed perceptual and material norms guiding relations between men and women that the term seeks
to draw attention to. The needs, logics and organization of transgender people need to be understood and
included throughout the disaster response process if it is to truly be gender-sensitive.

Transgender Sensitive Emergency Responses: taking the needs of the


transgender population into consideration when managing disasters.
Diana Martnez-Zurita
A few words about gender
Men and their practices are part of the problem of gender inequalities in aid,
education and empowerment and should be part of the solution1
The transgender population is absent from discussions about gender mainstreaming due
to misconceptions in the interpretation of what, exactly, the concept of gender entails.
To be fair, the concepts of masculine and feminine are among the most confused that
occur in science.2This is because gender is historically changing and often politically
conflict-ridden. Transgender people are considered to be further complicating matters
because they choose not to live by predominant masculine or feminine standards. A
transgender person transgresses the conventional boundaries of gender; in clothing; in
presenting themselves; even as far as having multiple surgical procedures to be fully
bodily reassigned in their preferred gender role.3
1 Connell, R.W. Masculinities.2nd ed. University of California Press. Berkeley:
2005. pg. 3
2 Ibid

3 Stephen Whittle, et al. Engendered Penalties: Transgender and Transsexual Peoples


Experiences of Inequality and Discrimination. The Equalities Review, 2007.

Transgender is an umbrella term, coined in the United States, used to describe a wide
range of identities and experiences. In the Indian sub-continent Hijra is an umbrella term
used specifically for Male to Female (MTF) transgender people, namely: eunuchs,
transvestites, hermaphrodites or the inter-sexed.4 Given that there is no term in the
Indian sub-continent for people who transition from a Female to a Male gender, it is
much more advisable to use the term transgender as it is more inclusive. Both terms,
however, are used to describe people whose identities and behavior fall outside
stereotypical gender expectations including: transsexuals, transvestites, androgynous
people, inter-sex people and people whose appearance and characteristics are gender
atypical. In reality, most people dont meet all gender expectations and stereotypes
either; in the broadest sense almost nobody is perfectly masculine or perfectly feminine.
However, those people who appear to the onlooker as more trans (or more nonconforming) are more likely to experience prejudice and/or discrimination.
In fact, transgender people often have complex gender identities and may move from
one category (i.e. from cross-dresser to transsexual) to another at any given moment in
their lifetimes. For this reason it is particularly important that those who provide
emergency assistance not label people to be transgender based on their perceptions, but
instead utilize the words that aid recipients use to describe themselves. A good way to
address the issue is to simply ask a person how do you identify yourself? or how do
you prefer to be called/treated and treat them accordingly.
Equally important, many people are confused about the difference between sexual
orientation and gender identity or gender expression. Although everyone has both a
sexual orientation and a gender identity, sexual orientation and gender identity are two
distinct concepts. Sexual orientation refers to a persons attraction to members of the
same sex or different sex. In other words, sexual orientation determines whether a
person is gay, lesbian, bisexual or heterosexual. Conversely, gender identity refers to a
persons internal sense of being male or female or something else. For most people,
ones gender identity matches their biological sex- for instance a person born female
typically identifies as a girl and later as a woman. For many transgender people, there is
no such match between their biological sex and their internal sense of being. Finally,
gender expression refers to the ways that people express their gender or gender identity
to the outside world, including through dress, appearance and behavior5. For instance
some Hijras express their gender identity in public by wearing female clothes like sarees
and jewelry. It is important to note that it is transgender peoples gender expression
(their visible appearance) that results in their discrimination and abuse.
http://www.theequalitiesreview.org.uk
4 Nanda, as cited in Brettell, C. B., & Sargent, C. F. (1997). Neither man nor woman. Gender

in cross- cultural perspective (pp. 198-201). New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

5 Mottet, L., & Ohle, J. (2003). Transitioning Our Shelters: A Guide to Making Homeless SheltersSafe for
Transgender People. New York: The National Coalition for the Homeless and the National
Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute. http://www.ngltf.org

Again, despite the fact the some people believe that all gay, lesbian and bisexual people
are transgender or vice versa. The transgender population is radically different from
MSM6 communities. In reality, the fact that a person is transgender says nothing
whatsoever about their sexual orientation. This issue is highlighted because it stresses
the need to realize how much people can differ from one another when it comes to
gender identity and expression. No two people experience their gender identity and
gender expression in the same way, for this reason stereotypes and generalizations cloud
understanding and should be avoided.
Transgender people are often divided into two sub-categories: Male-to- Female (MTF) a
term most commonly used to refer to a person who is born male and is transitioning or
has transitioned into a feminine gender expression and identity; and Female-to-Male
(FTM) is a term used to refer to a person who is born female and is transitioning or has
transitioned into a masculine gender identity and expression. In the spirit of avoiding
generalizations, it is important to understand that the experience of MTF7 transgender
people cannot be transferred to represent the experience of FTM8 transgender people.
Female- to- Male (FTM) transgender people are much less conspicuous to the outside
world than Male-to-Female (MTF) people because their gender expression is less
evident to others. Hence, they are better able to blend and pass for their desired gender
identity. This ability to hide in plain sight explains why there is little information about
FTM lifestyles and special needs. FTM transgender people are more likely to escape
into a world where no one knows their past. These transgender people often live in
isolation and carry their big secret with them. They are often unwilling to speak about
their experiences and choose to limit their social and emotional lives and contacts.
Nevertheless, the FTM transgender people will experience some social problems during
the first years of transition from female to male, however these often fade away as they
quickly come to look physically very masculine (at least whilst clothed)9. Furthermore,
Female to Male transpeople10 have no possibility of carrying out sex work in order to
survive as there is no market for FTM sexworkers. In fact, many are sexually inactive.
On the other hand Male-to-Female transgender people are more likely to become
victims of prejudice and social stigmatization for many years of their lives as they
struggle with the limitations of medicine and surgery to facilitate their passing as an
ordinary woman in their day to day life11. Hence it is simply incorrect to assume that
men do not suffer from gender-based discrimination. Any man who chooses not to live
6 Men who have sex with Men

7 Male to female or transwomen (see glossary for definitions)


8 Female to male or transmen (see glossary for definitions)

9 Stephen Whittle, et al. Engendered Penalties: Transgender and Transsexual


Peoples Experiences of Inequality and Discrimination. The Equalities Review,
2007. http://www.theequalitiesreview.org.uk
10 A term used in the UK to refer to people who self- identify as transgender
11 Ibid

by the predominant masculine standard is considered to be a threat and will most likely
be punished for his transgression. MTF transgender people are more visibly gender
variant and therefore have little chance of blending in. For instance, Hijras are known
specifically through negative stereotypes related to their behavior such as: engaging in
vulgar jokes, obscene gestures and using obscene language in public. These negative
stereotypes cause people to consider Hijras to be sexually deformed freaks and result in
their ostracism from society. This and other situations of discrimination have forced
MTF individuals to struggle to survive in very visible ways (i.e. by engaging in sex
work or begging for money). As a result, most of the information available about
transgender people refers to the lives, needs and experiences of MTF transgender
people. From studies related to male to female transgender people we have learnt that
before, and after a disaster, transgender people are extremely vulnerable and have a
great need for shelter and other social services.
A policy of respect
Hijras exist at the periphery of Indian imagination. They are visible only on
certain circumscribed ritual occasions12.
The best indicator of how people will cope with an event is what their functional level
was before the crisis. The Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre considers that the recent
rise in disasters and their negative consequences is related to a rise in peoples
vulnerability.13 Thus, in order to mitigate the negative consequences of disasters, risk
reduction strategies should work towards reducing vulnerability and simultaneously
capitalizing (and nurturing) inherent social and cultural capacities in order to minimize
dependency. Transgender people are disproportionately represented within vulnerable
populations because they face physical, cultural and social barriers in accessing the
services and support to which they are entitled. In order to maximize transgender
peoples coping strategies during disasters it is important to understand the nature of
their vulnerability and to remember that peoples vulnerability is generally caused by
human-determined actions. However, it is also important to note that transgender people
and other members of vulnerable groups must not be regarded as helpless victims.
Transgender people are extremely resilient and possess or have acquired skills,
capacities and structures to cope with and respond to disaster situations that need to be
acknowledged and nurtured. Nevertheless it is important to recognize that transgender
peoples lives are often marked by the following physical, social and cultural barriers14:
12 Reddy, Gayathri. With Respect to Sex: negotiating Hijra identity in South
India. University of Chicago Press: 2005 pg. 2
13 Vulnerability is a relative yet specific term defined as a combination of
characteristics of a person or group in relation to hazard exposure which
derives from the social and economic condition of the individual or group (see
glossary for definition).
14 Mottet, L., & Ohle, J. (2003). Transitioning Our Shelters: A Guide to Making Homeless SheltersSafe for
Transgender People. New York: The National Coalition for the Homeless and the National
Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute. http://www.ngltf.org

Poverty due to discrimination in employment and limited employment


opportunities.
Lack of economic, social and emotional support from family. Hijras are known
for being a close-knit community that offers MTF individuals with a safe haven.
However this does not replace emotional and economic support from family.
Lack of education and training because of harassment or discrimination,
resulting in an inability to acquire jobs.
Inability to access standard healthcare due to discrimination on the part of
doctors and other medical staff.
Inability to pay for transgender-related healthcare such as hormones, counseling
and gender reassignment procedures. For example, many Hijras otherwise
known as Kojjas and Aravanis have their castration surgeries (excision of penis
and testicles) at home, performed by a friend without proper medical care and at
a high risk of infections.
Substance abuse and addiction.
Discrimination by housing providers and landlords.
Discrimination by social service agencies and a lack of knowledge about the
services available to them.
A criminal record due to survival street crimes (drug trade, theft, sex work) to
which a transgender person turns when they are unable to earn a living through
legal means.
Infection of HIV, Hepatitis B and C, Active Syphilis or other sexually
transmitted disease acquired from sex work or other means.
Victimization from crime while living on the street or from crime specifically
targeting transgender people. For example some transgender people report being
gang raped while living on the streets or beaten nearly to death.

If disasters are manifestations of unresolved problems within a community, then


transgender peoples increased vulnerability to disasters is derived from the unresolved
problem that they are left to struggle through life without a much needed safety net. If
transgender individuals are not provided with safe shelter before and after a disaster,
they face life on the street, sleeping under bridges at the mercy of inclement weather,
lacking proper sanitation and vulnerable to attacks. These risks are a key factor in
determining the negative impact that disasters will have on them as it is now recognized
that physical, social and economic risks that have been unmanaged or mismanaged for a
long time lead to the occurrence of disasters15.
Contrary to popular belief, the urgent task of rescue and relief in a disaster response will
not be hindered by accommodating transgender sensitivity. A few minor but important
adjustments are all that is needed. Moreover, current more comprehensive approaches to
risk management allow for more room than ever to address the special needs of the
transgender population. It is important to recall that according to International
Humanitarian Law, the primary responsibility to protect vulnerable populations (as well
as the rest of the population) rests with states and governments. This does not imply that
15 Yodmani, Suvit. Disaster Risk Management and Vulnerability Reduction:

Protecting the Poor. Asian Disaster Preparedness Paper. 2001

it is the sole responsibility of the government to deal with disasters; top-down


approaches have been abandoned in favor of multi-sectoral, people-centered approaches
that engage civil society and other aid recipients in disaster responses. Nevertheless, the
government should not only play an important role in disaster response, it should be
held accountable (by civil society) for their effectiveness in vulnerability reduction
when planning and implementing responses.
Although there has been a conscious effort on the part of relevant authorities, according
to Indian National Institute Disaster Management, to fulfill their international
obligations towards vulnerable populations by engaging in vulnerability reduction at the
national, provincial and sub-provincial level, the issue remains that many well-meaning
disaster management aid workers, shelter administrators and relevant authorities are
often unsure of how to work with transgender people. For this reason this paper seeks to
go beyond informing about the means and mechanisms behind the inequality and
discrimination that results from prejudice about transgender people, it aims very briefly
to guide aid workers and relevant authorities on how to work with transgender people so
that they can specifically target and thus better allocate intervention and emergency
responses for transgender people in need.
Those affected by disasters have a right to life with dignity and therefore a right to
assistance.16 Hence, the first and most important thing any person working with
transgender people should do is understand, implement and enforce a policy of respect
for transgender people.17 A policy of respect mainly refers to a means of honoring a
persons dignity by respecting a persons self-identity and treating a person according to
his/her self-identified gender. Aid workers and shelter administrators should remember
that people are who they say they are. Thus, if someone says that she is a woman, she
should be treated as a woman regardless of how she appears. To emphasize, respecting
Male-to-Female transgender peoples self-identification and expression can lessen the
incidence of violence against them, as MTF people often risk verbal, physical and
sexual harassment and assault if they are required to room with men.
Another very important way to show respect is through language. Language is an
extremely powerful tool that can be very harmful if used disrespectfully; if a person
identifies as a woman than she should be used to refer to her, conversely, if a person
identifies as a man than he should be used to refer to him. Equally important,
confidentiality is another way to show respect. A persons transgender status should be
treated as confidential information (dont tell everyone at the shelter that so and so is a
Hijra otherwise known as Joggapa, Kojja or Aravani depending on where you come
from). Keeping this information confidential will prevent or minimize the potential for
transgender residents to experience discrimination, harassment or violence.

16 The Sphere Project. Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response .
The Sphere Project. Geneva, Switzerland: 2004. http://www.sphereproject.org

17 Mottet, L., & Ohle, J. (2003). Transitioning Our Shelters: A Guide to Making Homeless SheltersSafe for
Transgender People. New York: The National Coalition for the Homeless and the National
Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute. http://www.ngltf.org

As was noted earlier, disaster assistance programs should aim to capitalize and nurture
peoples inherent social and cultural capacities. Involving transgender survivors of a
calamity is a meaningful way of showing respect towards them. Survivors should not be
regarded as helpless victims or passive aid recipients. On the contrary, transgender
disaster survivors should be acknowledged and treated like active subjects or
stakeholders who participate and work towards finding solutions to their own problems.
Transgender people often possess amazing skills can contribute by carrying out many
tasks. Their participation should thereby be actively encouraged. For instance,
transgender people can help by locating the sites for and constructing bathing facilities
in settlement areas or they can produce and/distribute soap or other supplies in shelters.
The important thing to remember is that surviving with dignity means participating and
being involved.
Finally, the most important way to honor a persons self-identification and expression is
to treat each person as an individual. Avoid generalizations such as all Hijras are
The best solution for situations involving transgender people is to have a conversation
with the person about his or her privacy needs and safety. All options available should
be presented to the person and he/she should be allowed to make his/her own decisions.
The ideal situation is one where all facilities and resources provided reflect the
vulnerabilities, needs and preferences of the affected population18. Remember that some
transgender people feel comfortable sharing living spaces, showers, toilets, etc with
people of their self- identified gender others do not. For example, although Female-toMale transgender people should be treated as males, if they are required to shower in
open showers with other males, there will be an increase in the likelihood that they will
be harassed or attacked. In some cases the best and most humane option to ensure that
there is equitable access to resources and facilities is to establish a transgender/ gender
non-conforming living space where transgender people and other sexual minorities
(gays, lesbians and bisexuals) can safely reside.
Health Concerns
Ministry of Health representatives, other relevant authorities and those who provide
medical care during the health sector response to a disaster need to have some specific
knowledge about transgender health issues.
First of all, as mentioned earlier, many transgender people desire surgery to
alter their body. Contrary to popular belief, there is no single surgery that
completely converts a male body into a female body, or vice versa. In fact,
several surgeries and several different techniques are needed to change the
many gendered physical characteristics of a persons body. What is more,
these surgeries are incredibly expensive (and have yet to be perfected),
hence inaccessible to low-income transgender people. This is why Hijras and
other transgender people often ill-advisedly opt to perform castration
surgeries themselves (or by friends) at great risk. Similarly, some
transgender people who are transitioning from one gender to another
undergo hormone therapy to alter various aspects of their body. Those who

18 The Sphere Project. Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in

Disaster Response. The Sphere Project. Geneva, Switzerland: 2004.


http://www.sphereproject.org

are transitioning to female take oestrogen along with testosterone-blockers,


which cause breast development, softened skin, and redistribution of body
fat in a female pattern, as well as other effects. Additionally, some MTF
transgender women use silicone injections at great risk to enhance their
appearance. These injections can cause serious complications (as silicone
was never meant to be injected directly into the body) and may even lead to
death. On the other hand, those who are transitioning from female to male
often take testosterone, which increases muscle mass, causes facial and
body hair to grow, lowers the pitch of ones voice, and changes body fat
distribution to a male pattern, among other effects. These different
hormones are taken through a variety of methods, such as injection, pills,
topical cream, and patches placed on the skin. Ideally these hormones
would be prescribed and administered by a medical professional.
Unfortunately, these hormones are extremely costly and often unavailable
through the medical system, thus people purchase these hormones through
an illegal underground market.19
From the vulnerability reduction perspective, the use of hormones by
transgender people is important because medical assistance is required to
monitor the use and acquisition of hormones. Additionally, an interruption in
hormone treatment may have negative physical and mental effects for
instance, anger, depression, suicidal tendencies. Equally important
hormones purchased on the streets always come with risks. Besides the risk
of transmitting HIV/AIDS or other diseases by sharing needles, the hormones
purchased may not be of good quality or their dosages may not be the
appropriate ones for the person who is using them.
All in all, the gravest health concern regarding transgender people is the
prevalence of HIV/AIDS. Studies have shown that transgender people have a
disproportionately high rate
of HIV infection and AIDS. This concerns disaster management because the
coping mechanism and resilience of communities are reduced when there is
a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS. Furthermore, the threshold for external
stressors is lowered and community recovery time is prolonged. 20 As noted
earlier, HIV/AIDS infection results from sharing needles for hormones or
silicone and survival street coping mechanisms such as IV drug use,
unprotected sex, and sex work. Finally, infection results from lack of
accurate safer sex information and lack of access to health resources and
services. Transgender people should have access to relevant health
information and education that will allow them to prevent and promote their
well-being and protect themselves against HIV transmissions. Free male
condoms should be made available and their use should be promoted.
Universal precautions should be taken to prevent iatrogenic/nosocomial
transmission in emergency and healthcare settings and a safe blood supply

19 Mottet, L., & Ohle, J. (2003). Transitioning Our Shelters: A Guide to Making Homeless SheltersSafe for
Transgender People. New York: The National Coalition for the Homeless and the National
Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute. http://www.ngltf.org

20 The Sphere Project. Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in

Disaster Response. The Sphere Project. Geneva, Switzerland: 2004.


http://www.sphereproject.org

should be available. Prevention and management of the consequences of


sexual violence should be considered and put into practice. Finally, in
addition to the discrimination that transgender people suffer due to their
gender identification and expression, transgender people living with
HIV/AIDS (PLWH/A) often suffer from additional discrimination because of
their illness. This is why confidentiality should be strictly adhered to and
protection from violence and harassment should be available when
necessary.21

Encouraging Participation
Transgender people are a valuable and often underused resource. Thus, it is highly
recommended that partnerships with transgender people be established in order to
improve communication and build their capacities so that they can provide much needed
guidance to ensure that assistance programs are safer and more welcoming for them.
Furthermore, transgender people should also be involved in policy development to
encourage the correction of past and present-day imbalances. Though the nature of
transgender peoples vulnerability is complex and varied, by acknowledging and
honouring any transgender persons (or any persons for that matter) freedom to define
him/herself through self identification and expression in every way, an important step is
taken towards satisfying transgender peoples basic right to a life with dignity.
To conclude, in order to maximize the coping strategies of the disaster affected
transgender population, a paradigm shift is strongly recommended in order to actively
involve transgender people in the assessment, design, implementation, monitoring and
evaluation of any assistance program. In the present context, disaster mitigation cannot
be effective if discriminatory practices of the past are allowed to continue. According to
Chaman Pincha, if an invisible group like the transgender community is not specifically
accounted for at policy level, there is a strong likelihood that their needs and concerns
may not be addressed.22 Thus, programmes designed to support and protect (following a
policy of respect) coupled with innovative institutional arrangements that include
transgender people are what is needed to guarantee the protection of transgender people
so that they no longer go through life at the mercy of calamity.
Bibliography
Connell, R.W. Masculinities.2nd ed. University of California Press. Berkeley: 2005. p.3
Mottet, L., & Ohle, J. (2003). Transitioning Our Shelters: A Guide to Making Homeless
Shelters Safe for Transgender People. New York: The National Coalition for the
Homeless and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute.
http://www.ngltf.org
21 Mottet, L., & Ohle, J. (2003). Transitioning Our Shelters: A Guide to Making Homeless SheltersSafe for
Transgender People. New York: The National Coalition for the Homeless and the National
Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute. http://www.ngltf.org

22 Pincha, Chaman. Gender Sensitive Disaster Management: a toolkit for


practitioners. Oxfam-NANBAN Trust 2008.

Nanda, as cited in Brettell, C. B., & Sargent, C. F. (1997). Neither man nor woman.
Gender in cross- cultural perspective (pp. 198-201). New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
Pincha, Chaman. Gender Sensitive Disaster Management: a toolkit for practitioners.
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Stephen Whittle, et al. Engendered Penalties: Transgender and Transsexual Peoples
Experiences of Inequality and Discrimination. The Equalities Review, 2007.
http://www.theequalitiesreview.org.uk
The Sphere Project. Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster
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http://www.sphereproject.org
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GLOSSARY23
23 Taken from: Mottet, L., & Ohle, J. (2003). Transitioning Our Shelters: A Guide to Making Homeless

SheltersSafe for Transgender People. New York: The National Coalition for the Homeless and the National
Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute. http://www.ngltf.org

Transgender: An umbrella term for people whose gender identity, expression or behavior is
different from
those typically associated with their assigned sex at birth, including but not limited to
transsexuals, crossdressers, androgynous people, and gender non-conforming people.
Transgender is a broad term and is good for providers to use.
Transgender Man: A term for a transgender individual who currently identifies as a man
(see also FTM).
Transgender Woman: A term for a transgender individual who currently identifies as a
woman (see also MTF).
Gender Identity: An individuals internal sense of being male, female, or something else.
Since gender identity is internal, ones gender identity is not necessarily visible to others.
Gender Expression: How a person represents or expresses ones gender identity to others,
often through
behavior, clothing, hairstyles, voice or body characteristics.
Transsexual: A term for people whose gender identity is different from their assigned sex at
birth. Often,
but not always, transsexual people alter their bodies through hormones or surgery in order to
make it match their gender identity.
Cross-dresser: A term for people who dress in clothing traditionally or stereotypically worn
by the other
sex, but who generally have no intent to live full-time as the other gender.
Transvestite: A term for a cross-dresser that is considered derogatory by many.
Gender Non-conforming: A term for individuals whose gender expression is different from
the societal
expectations based on their assigned sex at birth.
FTM: A person who has transitioned from female-to-male, meaning a person who was
assigned female
at birth, but now identifies and lives as a male. Also known as a transgender man.
MTF: A person who has transitioned from male-to-female, meaning a person who was
assigned male at
birth, but now identifies and lives as a female. Also known as a transgender woman.
Passing: A term used by transgender people to mean that they are seen as the gender they
self-identify as. For example, a transgender man (born female) who most people see as a
man.
Sex Reassignment Surgery: Surgical procedures that change ones body to make it
conform to a persons gender identity. This may include top surgery (breast augmentation
or removal) or bottom surgery(altering genitals). Contrary to popular belief, there is not one
surgery; in fact there are many different surgeries. Sex change surgery is considered a
derogatory term by many.
Sexual Orientation: A term describing a persons attraction to members of the same sex or
different sex.
Usually defined as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or heterosexual.
Transition: The period during which a person begins to live as their new gender.
Transitioning may include changing ones name, taking hormones, having surgery, or
changing legal documents (e.g. drivers license, Social Security number, birth certificate) to
reflect their new gender.
Intersex: A term used for people who are born with external genitalia, chromosomes, or
internal

Vulnerability:

a relative yet specific term defined as a combination of

characteristics of a person or group in relation to hazard exposure which


derives from the social and economic condition of the individual or group. High
levels of exposure to hazards imply a grave outcome in disaster events and a
complex measure of a persons lack or need.