Transgender Terms

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There are a ton of transgender related terms out there. This post will give you a good idea of the main terms used in the transgender community and their definitions. If you have any questions about them please comment below and I will try my best to answer them.

Gender identity- A person’s innate, deeply-felt psychological identification as a man, woman, or something else, which may or may not correspond to the person’s external body or assigned sex at birth.

Gender expression- The external manifestation of a person’s gender identity, which may or may not conform to the socially-defined behaviors and external characteristics that are commonly referred to as either masculine or feminine. These behaviors and characteristics are expressed through carriage (movement), dress, grooming, hairstyles, jewelry, mannerisms, physical characteristics, social interactions, and speech patterns (voice).Those people whose gender expression is (1) neither masculine nor feminine or (2) different from traditional or stereotypic expectations of how a man or woman should appear or behave are sometimes referred to as gender non-conforming.

Transgender- An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or gender
expression differs from their assigned sex at birth (i.e., the sex listed on their birth certificates). Some groups define the term more broadly (e.g., by including intersex people) while other people define it more narrowly (e.g., by excluding “true transsexuals”). Transgender people may or may not choose to alter their bodies hormonally and/or surgically.

Transition- The process that people go through as they change their gender expression and/or physical appearance (e.g., through hormones and/or surgery) to align with their gender identity. A transition may occur over a period of time, and may involve coming out to family, friends, co-workers, and others; changing one’s name and/or sex designation on legal documents (e.g., drivers’ licenses, birth certificates); and/or
medical intervention.

Gender affirmation-Many people view their coming out as an affirmation of the gender
identity they have always had, rather than a transition from one gender identity to another. They may prefer to call themselves “affirmed females” (or just “females”) or “affirmed males” (or just “males”) rather than “transgender” or “transsexuals” because the “trans” prefix suggests they have changed, rather than accepted, their true gender
identity. This is consistent with the concept that people do not need to have any surgery in order to affirm their gender.

Androgyne- Refers to someone whose gender identity is both male and female, or
neither male nor female. A person might present as androgynous, and/or as sometimes male and sometimes female, and might choose to use an androgynous name. Pronoun preference typically varies, including alternately using male or female pronouns, using the pronoun that matches the gender presentation at that time, or using newly developed gender-neutral pronouns (e.g., hir, zie).

Cisgender- People whose gender identity and gender expression align with their
assigned sex at birth (i.e., the sex listed on their birth certificates). Cisgender is a newer term that some people prefer when writing and speaking about transgender and non-transgender people, with the nontransgender people being referred to as “cisgender”. In this manner, a transgender person is not singled out as being different or not normal.

Coming out- The process of accepting, and telling others about, one’s theretofore
hidden gender identity, gender affirmation, or sexual orientation.

Cross-dressers-  People who wear clothing, jewelry, and/or make-up not traditionally or
stereotypically associated with their anatomical sex, and who generally have no intention or desire to change their anatomical sex. Crossdressing is more often associated with men, is more often engaged in on an occasional basis, and is not necessarily reflective of sexual orientation or gender identity. Cross-dressing may be engaged in for numerous reasons, including a need to express femininity/masculinity, artistic expression, performance (e.g., drag queen/king), or erotic enjoyment.

Gender or Gender role- Refers to the traditional or stereotypical behavioral differences
between men and women, as defined by the culture in which they live, in terms of, among others things, their gender expressions, the careers they pursue, and their duties within a family.

Bigender-Similar to genderqueer and androgyne, these terms refer to gender
variations other than the traditional, dichotomous view of male and female. People who self-refer with these terms may identify and present themselves as both or alternatively male and female, as no gender, or as a gender outside the male/female binary.

Gender dysphoria- Some people prefer this term over “gender identity disorder” because it has a less stigmatizing impact.

Gender Identity Disorder-According to DSM-IV-TR, Gender Identity Disorder is the diagnosis used when a person has (1) a strong and persistent cross-gender identification and (2) persistent discomfort with his or her sex or sense of inappropriateness in the gender role of that sex, and the disturbance (3) is not concurrent with physical intersex condition and (4) causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

Gender non-conforming- People whose gender expression is (1) neither masculine nor feminine or (2) different from traditional or stereotypic expectations of how a man or woman should appear or behave.

Genderqueer- This term is generally used in two ways: (1) as an umbrella term that
includes all people whose gender varies from the traditional norm, akin to the use of the word “queer” to refer to people whose sexual orientation is not heterosexual only; or (2) to describe a subset of individuals who are born anatomically female or male, but feel their gender identity is neither female or male.

Intersex- A spectrum of conditions involving anomalies of the sex chromosomes, gonads, reproductive ducts, and/or genitalia. The most traditional definition of intersex refers to individuals born with both male and female genitalia, or genitalia that are not clearly male or female. A person may have elements of both male and female anatomy, have different internal organs than external organs, or have anatomy that is inconsistent with chromosomal sex. This condition is sometimes not identified until puberty, when the person either fails to develop certain expected secondary sex characteristics, or develops characteristics that were not expected. “Hermaphrodite” is an old term previously used instead of “intersex”and is now considered pejorative.

Neo-vagina- While this is the technical term for when a vagina is surgically created
and is suitable for use when having a discussion with another medical professional, it is not a term that should be used with a client during routine office visits or routine gynecological examinations. A clinician need not remind a female client that she has a neo-vagina. Simply say “vagina”.

Outing- The unauthorized disclosure by one person of another person’s theretofore hidden gender identity, gender affirmation, or sexual orientation.

Passing- When people are perceived as the gender they are presenting in (e.g., based on their dress and mannerisms match according to social norms). For example: an anatomical male dressed as a female who is perceived by others as female, or a transman who is perceived as a man.

Sex- In a dichotomous scheme, the designation of a person at birth as either “male” or “female” based on their anatomy (genitalia and/or reproductive organs) and/or biology (chromosomes and/or hormones). Sometimes “sex” and “gender” are used interchangeably. For clarity, it is better to distinguish sex, gender identity, and gender expression from each other.

Sexual orientation- A person’s enduring physical, romantic, emotional, and/or spiritual
attraction to another person. May be lesbian, gay, heterosexual, bisexual, pansexual, polysexual, or asexual. Sexual orientation is distinct from sex, gender identity, and gender expression. A person’s sexual orientation should not be assumed based on the perceived sex of that person’s partner(s). For example, a man who identifies himself as
heterosexual may have sexual relationships with men and women.

Stealth- When a transgender person who has transitioned into a different sex or
gender does not divulge the fact of transition. When a person has gone through gender affirmation and does not disclose that fact to others. The risk or fear of being “outed” may be very distressing to a person who is living stealth.

Top surgery- is a term most often used by transmen to refer to the removal of breast tissue, relocation and resizing of nipple complexes, and chest reconstruction to a male chest structure.

Bottom surgery-is a term often used by both transmen and transwomen to refer to the alteration of their genitalia.

Trans-Short for a transgender person. Its use is similar to the use of the word “queer” by some LGBT people. Some people consider the terms tranny, trans, and/or queer derogatory, especially when used by someone who is not transgender or lesbian, gay, or bisexual.

Transman/FTM- Generally refers to someone who was identified female at birth but
who identifies and portrays his gender as male. People will often use this term after taking some steps to express their gender as male, or after medically transitioning. Some, but not all, transmen make physical changes through hormones or surgery. Some people will refer to themselves as men of transgender experience. Some transmen do not use FTM (female-to-male) to describe themselves because they don’t think of themselves as having transitioned from female to male. Some people prefer to be referred to as men rather than transmen or transgender men.

Transphobia- Dislike of, or discomfort with, people whose gender identity and/or
gender expression do not conform to traditional or stereotypic gender roles.

Transwoman/MTF- Generally refers to someone who was identified male at birth but who identifies and portrays her gender as female. People will often use this term after taking some steps to express their gender as female, or after medically transitioning. Some, but not all, transwomen make physical changes through hormones or surgery. Some people will refer to themselves as women of transgender experience. Some transwomen do not use MTF (male-to-female) to describe themselves because they don’t think of themselves as having transitioned from male to female. Some people prefer to be referred to as women rather than transwomen or transgender women.

Two Spirit- People who display characteristics of both male and female genders.
Sometimes referred to as a third gender – the male-female gender. The term is derived from the traditions of some Native North American cultures. Two Spirit also means a mixture of masculine and feminine spirits living in the same body. This term also represents the self-identity description used by many Native American gay men who do not identify as cross-gendered or transgender.

These are some of the basic terms out there, but if you would like to find out more you can google transgender terms. There are a ton out there I just picked out the most common ones. I didn’t know a lot of these terms when I first came out so when I was doing research I came across a lot of these and had to google the definitions myself. I thought it would be great to have a list of some you could refer to for both transgender and cisgender people.

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2 thoughts on “Transgender Terms

  1. I honestly can’t understand why Cross-dressers are so often included in the trans community. I mean, yes there are transgender people who don’t transition in the sense of getting HRT, but that doesn’t make them cross-dressers. Cross-dresser are (usually) cisgender people who have fun playing (such as drag queen or king).
    So why are they listed on a transgender-term list?
    I honestly don’t try to be offensive, which I probably very much do. I simply cannot understand. It’s less of an opinion than it is confusion.
    May you or someone else explain it to me?

    Like

    1. I understand how you feel in regards to this. You are correct most cross dressers are cisgendered individuals. I honestly can’t answer your questions as to why they are classified under trans terms, but anywhere you do research on trans terms it is one of the most common terms. I think sometimes its a matter of confusion as to where to put them, but I am sure that many people who start out cross dressing do end up being transgender.

      Liked by 1 person

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