This asterisk after the word trans is used to denote the wider transgender umbrella of identifications. These may or may not be people who would call themselves transgender. So for example, and not limited to, the following identities:
- Trans man
- Trans woman
- Gender fluid
- Third gender
- Two spirit
- Drag King’s and Queen’s
The asterisk then is a catch-all for all of these groups of people. It’s risen in popularity as people have been trying to include as many groups of people as possible in as short and quick a way as possible. For example – why write out a list of who you are talking about when trans* will do?
OK, so why then do I personally rarely use the asterisk. I can see its value and it allows for greater understanding and inclusion of the wider trans spectrum. I have chosen to rarely use it because when I use the word trans I already mean it to include anyone that identifies as trans. So to me all of the spectrum is already included; adding the asterisk is superfluous. Also the asterisk bugs my literary side as I want to look for a footnote every time I see it! You may think different, and think that the star is vital, and that’s cool with me, you won’t find an argument here.
I will only tell you what the star stands for, deciding to use it is a choice you need to make depending on your audience and personal beliefs.