@roaring20sman recently asked a question about gender identity and the same day I had seen quite a few questions about transgender people so I figured I'd write this myTake to cover most of the frequently asked questions I've seen about this topic.
What Is Gender?
Gender is the social and cultural norms associated with a particular sex. Humans are a sexually dimorphic species and as such we have certain biological differences (what we refer to as sex differences) but as social creatures we also have societal influences (what we refer to as gender differences). One common example I use is that of a dress. In America where I live it is highly strange for a man to wear a dress, but in different cultures and times it wasn't that odd. The Scottish Kilt and Japanese Kimono being two good examples. Another that comes to mind is that the high heel was originally made for men (for horse riding as well as height), but now it's socially strange for men to wear them.
What is a transgender person?
A transgender person is a person who, for whatever reasons, identifies or wishes to associate with the gendered norms opposite their sex. A male wanting to wear a dress, makeup, and things of that nature may desire to be perceived as a woman; whereas a woman may desire to associate with the stereotypically masculine norms.
What about the plethora of gender identities?
This is where it starts to get weird and this is a relatively new phenomena. Every person has a mix of masculine and feminine traits. As such some people use this information to declare that their are as many genders as there are people. This is silly as the two genders are simply impersonal categories. Every person already has their own proper noun (their name) and making an infinite number of personal pronouns (zhe/ zher, ze, hi/ hir etc) is clunky and ineffective. I once heard a trans activist saying that we should just put someone's preferred personal pronoun next to their name in our contact list on the phone. Bollocks.
Why may someone associate as a gender other than their sex?
There's a few possible reasons for this. The socialization theory is perhaps the greatest cause to the seeming rise of transgender identities where more and more people want to associate as a different gender because they were raised a certain way, or for social acclaim. We know, however, that trans people have always existed in different societies. We know some ancient Romans were, the native American Two-Spirit people were, the Insangoma of the Zulu, and the Asian Hijras for some examples. Thus it seems highly likely that there's at least some biological component. This hypothesis seems to be validated with some of the psychological research particularly with male to female trans persons. The research seems to demonstrate a rank order birthing effect on the instances of trans identity along with homosexuality. With each successive male birth a woman produces stronger antibodies against a male Y chromosomal protein. This means that her body will fight against that protein, the child will not receive it, and thus grow up with more effeminate qualities which subsequently increases the odds that he'll be gay or trans.
I think that went alright. Let me know if you've got any questions.