- Transgender – an adjective that describes a person who does not identify as the gender they were assigned at birth.
- Cisgender – an adjective that describes a person who identifies as the gender they were assigned at birth.
- Transition – any step(s) a person takes to affirm their gender identity; this may or may not include changes in one’s name, pronouns, physical appearance, taking hormones, undergoing surgery, among many other things. There is no one way to transition.
- Sex – usually refers to biology, but there is no one way to define biological sex. Most people attempt to define biological sex one way (usually with external genitalia or chromosomes), but the reality is there are five main major components of biological sex: chromosomes, hormones, expression of hormones, internal genitalia, and external genitalia. Most folks exist in within two binaries of classically ‘male’ and ‘female,’ but biological sex is a spectrum, and many people exist between the two main categories. These folks are called “intersex.” There is nothing wrong with their bodies, this is just a normal and natural expression of human biological diversity. See this page for more.
- Intersex – an adjective used to describe someone born with reproductive anatomy that does not fit typical definitions of “male” or “female.” There is nothing wrong with their bodies, this is just a normal and natural expression of human biological diversity. It’s important to realize that intersex anatomy isn’t always discovered at birth! Sometimes a person isn’t found to have intersex anatomy until puberty, or finds themselves infertile as an adult, or even until a post-mortem autopsy. Some people live and die with intersex anatomy without anyone (including themselves) ever knowing they are intersex. Learn more here.
- Gender (identity) – the gender that a person is born with; a part of who someone is. This does not have to match “biological sex,” though it often does as most people are not transgender.
- Gender expression – a societal box we check or don’t to try to communicate our gender with others. This is culturally, temporally, and geographically constrained and is best defined by social construct.
- Trans man – a person assigned female at birth but identifies as male.
- Trans woman – a person assigned male at birth but identifies as female.
- Transvestite/crossdresser – a person who portrays the “opposite” gender expression, but who identifies with the gender they were assigned at birth.
- Cis guy/man – a person who was assigned male at birth and identifies as male.
- Cis girl/woman – a person who was assigned female at birth and identifies as female.
- FTM – this stands for “Female to Male” and it refers to people assigned female at birth but who identify as male. I personally have grown to dislike this term because it implies that I was once female, which does not feel accurate. Of course, I was assigned female at birth, and haven’t always had the langauge or resources or safety to explain my identity as man, but I have always felt like a boy, like myself.
- Trans masculine (abv: trans masc) – a person who was assigned female at birth but identifies on the masculine end of gender expression (this is usually considered more a inclusive and less rigid term than “trans man”/”trans male.”)
- MTF – this stands for “Male to Female” and it refers to people assigned male at birth but identify as female.
- Trans feminine (abv: trans femme) – a personal who was assigned male at birth but identifies on the feminine side of the gender spectrum (again, this is usually considered more a inclusive and less rigid term than “trans woman.”)
- Nonbinary – describes someone who does not identify within the gender binary. For some folks this means identifying somewhere between the binary ”ends” (male and female), for some it means identifying as a combination of genders, and for others it means feeling a complete lack of a gender. For many folks, being nonbinary entails liberation from the stereotypes and gender roles attached to the gender they were assigned at birth. Note: Many folks use the term “enby” as a short term for nonbinary. This is the spelling of the abbreviation “NB” but folks have strayed away from using “NB” to refer to nonbinary folks as “NB” is used more widely as an abbreviation for non-Black folks.
- (Gender) Dysphoria – the discomfort or distress that arises from the incongruence of gender identity and gender assigned at birth.
- Top surgery – a mastectomy for transmasculine folks, a “masculinization” of chest. Often includes nipple grafts. See page on top surgery for more information.
- Bottom surgery – surgery to change the genitalia of one’s body. Previously referred to as “sex reassignment surgery” or “genital reassignment surgery,” but bottom surgery is a more inclusive term that also doesn’t medicalize the experience quite as much. Many trans folks dislike the “sex-reassignment” terminology as well as this is an inaccurate representation of what ‘sex’ is. Biological sex is more than just one’s genitals.
- HRT – hormone replacement therapy — usually testosterone for trans masc folks, and estrogen for trans femme folks.
- T or E – common abbreviations for testosterone and estrogen, respectively.
- Womxn – in the 1970s feminists who wanted to remove the word ‘men’ from the word ‘women’ began using ‘womyn.’ This quickly became associated with (cisgender) white feminism and thus ‘womxn’ was adopted in an attempt to be inclusive of women of color and trans women. However this effort has backfired in many ways, namely through implicitly asserting that the original word ‘women’ is not inclusive women of color and trans women, which is false. Trans women are women. Women of color are women. Thus, I’d advise NOT using this term because it is often too loaded. If you mean to call out trans women or women of color or cis women specifically, do so. Check out this article or this article for more.
- Misgender –the act of referring to someone in a way that does not reflect that person’s gender identity. For example, using incorrect pronouns, calling someone by an old name (a deadname), using an incorrect prefix (e.g. Mr. or Ms.). Misgendering can be especially painful for trans individuals because it calls forth a history of not being seen as who we truly are. Learn more about pronouns here.
- Deadname – refers to the name someone was given or used before they transitioned and/or discovered their true gender identity. This term is an adjustment to the term, ‘birth name” for a few reasons, namely that these names are dead. Some people also feel that when deadnamed, a small part of them dies. Like misgendering, deadnames often drag forth a great deal of pain and trauma for trans folks of having to live as someone they are not. Some folks also refer to deadnames as “old names.”
A few thorough guides that are easily shareable:
Common Mistakes & Suggestions on Correction–