Transgender Terminology

Terminology used by and about transgender people is constantly invented and evolving. These definitions should be taken as my understanding of how these terms are most often used by transgender people and their allies at this time.


Affirmed gender is an individual’s declared gender identity.

An agender person feels they have no gender. 

Androgynous presentation includes both masculine and feminine elements.

Assigned sex, female or male, is determined at birth, based on the appearance of the baby’s genitals.

A bigender person feels they have two genders.

A binder is a garment used to flatten the chest. It helps the individual be less aware of their breasts and present a more masculine body profile.

Cisgender individuals’ assigned sex, gender identity and gender expression are either all male or all female.

Cross-sex hormones cause a male body to become more feminine or a female body to become more masculine.

Crossdressers wish to adopt the clothing and styles of grooming typical, in their culture, of the other sex.

Facial feminization surgery (FFS)  is surgery to make a masculine face appear feminine.

A female-to-male (FTM) person was assigned female at birth, is considered by others to be female, but feels male. He wants to have a masculine body and to be viewed by others as male.

Gender dysphoria is a clinical term used to describe the unhappiness or distress caused by a discordance between gender identity and assigned sex or by societal expectations for that sex.

Gender expression is a person’s presentation of self to others as masculine, feminine, neither or both.

Gender identity is a person’s inner sense of being female, male, neither or both.

Gender nonconforming kids are those whose desires, behaviors and manner do not conform to societal expectations for children of their assigned sex.

Genderfluid, genderqueer and gender-neutral people are those with a gender identity that is neither male nor female, or whose gender identity is a blend of male and female.

LGBT is an abbreviation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.

A male-to-female (MTF) person was assigned male at birth, is considered by others to be male, but feels female. She wants to have a feminine body and to be viewed by others as female.

To misgender is to refer to someone by a name, pronoun or gendered word (e.g., son, daughter) that do not fit with the individual’s affirmed gender.

Natal sex is another term that can be used for the sex assigned at birth. A person may be referred to as a natal female or a natal male.

Non-binary gender identities are those that fall outside the gender categories of female and male. Some examples are: genderqueer, gender neutral, genderfluid, pangender, polygender, third gender, transmasculine and transfeminine.

Pangender and polygender people affirm a gender identity that encompasses more than female and male genders.

Pansexual individuals feel love and sexual attraction toward others without placing importance on the partner’s sex or gender.

Puberty blocking hormones postpone the onset or completion of puberty.

Sex, female or male, is assigned at birth based on the appearance of the baby’s genitals.

Sexuality refers to sexual feelings and behaviors.

Social Transition is the time when a transgender person begins presenting in public according to their gender identity rather than according to their assigned sex.

Trans is an acceptable, shortened form of transgender.

Transfeminine individuals’ gender identity and expression are in the female/feminine region of the spectrum but they do not necessarily identify as female.

Transgender people have a gender identity and/or gender expression that does not conform to their assigned sex.

Transmasculine individuals’ gender identity and expression are in the male/masculine region of the spectrum but they do not necessarily identify as male.

Transsexual is a term that has been used to describe people whose gender identity is in sharp contrast to their assigned sex (as opposed to those with a non-binary identity). This term is now used less often, and generally is not used by teens.

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