Glossary of Terms

The following are definitions intended as useful references for this resource and for your work with trans and non-binary clients. As language is constantly evolving and seldom universally agreed upon, it is key to mirror back language people use to express their lived experience and understanding of self. (Source) (Other Glossaries)

AGENDER

A person who does not identify with any particular gender identity. [top]

ASSUMED CIS

Previously known as “passing.” A trans person who presents in real life as their true gender is “assumed cis” as they move through their everyday routine. When one is assumed to be cis, the social, economic, safety and other risks associated with cis-sexist discrimination and transphobic violence decrease, thus conferring “cis privilege.” Given such benefits, getting to a point where one is “assumed cis” may be a goal of one’s transition, but this is not always the case. “Passing” should not be used as it implies that one is being mistaken for something they are not. This term is also closely associated with STEALTH. [top]

BIGENDER

A person who switches between binary gender extremes and presents as such. May include the sensation of phantom genitals and breasts. Male bodied individuals may feel they have larger, more feminine breasts and a vagina. Female bodied persons may get the sense of having a penis and/or a masculine chest. [top]

BINDING

The process of flattening one’s chest to disguise one’s breasts. This is generally performed by some, but not all, transmen and non-binary individuals. It is usually done through the use of any one of several methods, such as: multiple undershirts, lower back supports, and ace bandages (though not recommended due to possibility of restricting breathing too much). Binding may occur only on certain occasions or may be all the time. [top]

BOTTOM SURGERY

Also known as “Gender Affirming Surgery” (GAS). Bottom surgery is specific to the genital area, and include a variety of genital modification procedures. Typical modifications are any of the variations of vaginoplasty for trans women and metaoidioplasty or phalloplasty for trans men. [top]

BUTCH

A form of gender expression. A masculine identified person of any binary or non-binary gender identity. [top]

CIS

Having a non-trans gender identity. You may also sometimes see “cissexual” or “cisgender”. “Cis” is used to describe those who identify as either binary gender. It is used in place of terms such as “bio”, “genetic” or “real.” It is also preferable to use “cis” rather than only using “woman” or “man” to describe non-trans persons. [top]

CIS PRIVILEGE

The cultural and social privileges afforded to those who are cisgender. In health care settings, cis privilege is seen in assumptions made about the patient (assumption of cisgender, DEADNAMING, use of incorrect gender markers, etc.). [top]

CIS NORMATIVITY

The assumption all people are cis, that those “assigned male at birth” (AMAB) always grow up to be cismen and those “assigned female at birth” (AFAB) always grow up to be ciswomen. Cisnormative assumptions are most evident in health care settings like “women’s health” which focus on cisnormative care—Pap tests, contraception, gynecological examples, pregnancy, etc.—when, in fact, such things are also relevant to many men, specifically trans men. [top]

CISSEXISM

The beliefs and actions resulting from the belief, that cis bodies or identities are more “real” or “valid” than transgender identities. [top]

COMING OUT

Is related to sexual orientation and/or gender identity, and involves sharing something about one’s identity that would not otherwise be known. Many feel coming out to cisnormative and/or heteronormative individuals is a lifelong process. [top]

CONDITIONAL CIS PRIVILEGE

The privilege experienced by trans persons who are often assumed cis in their everyday life. Such privilege is condition on their trans identity or history not being known or revealed. Formerly referred to as “passing privilege”. [top]

CROSS DRESSER

Someone who wears clothes of another gender/sex but whose gender identity does not differ from the one assigned to them at birth. The term is most commonly used to describe male-bodied persons wearing “women’s” clothes on a part-time basis; however, some may cross dress more frequently or all of the time. Cross dressing (CD) is frequently associated with sexual fetishism, and interchanged with the term “transvestite” often. Cross dressing differs from NON-BINARY in this way. [top]

DEADNAME

The name a transgender person was given at birth. Dead names should be avoided at all times, and the person’s preferred name should be used, regardless of what a piece of identification states. [top]

DISORDERS OF SEXUAL DIFFERENTIATION (DSD)

A medical term used to describe the various conditions experienced by INTERSEX individuals. Many prefer using this term to “intersex.” Persons with DSD may be cis or trans depending on how their gender identity relates to the one assigned to them at birth, e.g., an individual whose genitalia were surgically altered to appear cisgender female may, in fact identify as cis-male. [top]

DRAG

This is the theatrical term for one who performs as a gender with which they do not identify in their everyday life. “Drag queens” are men performing as women; “drag kings” are women performing as men. Some who practice drag may one day decide to undergo gender transition. [top]

“ E “

Slang for Estrogen [top]

FEMME

A form of gender expression. A feminine identified person of any gender identity; however, it is generally used within the LGBTQ community in a similar way as BUTCH. [top]

FTM

An antiquated term used to describe trans men and cis and transwomen. This term, and it’s counterpart MTF, has fallen out of favour as it implies trans men are something categorically different or separate from being “men”; the term also inappropriately conflates birth sex and gender identity. [top]

GENDER AFFIRMING SURGERY (GAS)

This term is increasingly used in place of “sex reassignment surgery” (SRS). It refers to any number of surgeries a trans person may undertake to better align their sex with their gender identity. Though not a reason to get the surgery, it often helps the person acquire greater conditional cis-privilege and “assumed cis” status. The types of surgeries vary by the needs and wants of the trans individual. They many include both bottom and top surgery in some manner. GAS is important for some trans persons, but not for others. [top]

GENDER DYSPHORIA

This term replaces “Gender Identity Disorder” in the DSM-V. May refer specifically to the DSM-V. Gender dysphoria is the experience of discomfort and distress that associated with having one’s cisgender expression misaligned with their internal transgender identity. Gender dysphoria does not fully disappear, but can usually be minimized through medical transition and/or social transition,. [top]

GENDER EXPRESSION

The social expression of gender as determined by a socially constructed gender spectrum between masculine to feminine. Often related to, but sometimes distinct from, gender identity. For example, some trans or cis women may identify as BUTCH or present in a masculine way, while some cis or trans men may be feminine or identity as FEMME. [top]

GENDER IDENTITY

A person’s internal self-awareness of being male, female, something in between the gender binary, or a different gender identification other altogether (AGENDER, TWO-SPIRIT, INTERSEX, BIGENDER, etc.). [top]

GENDER ROLE EXPERIENCE (GRE)

A period of time during which a trans individual lives full time in the role of the gender with which they identify prior to accessing GENDER AFFIRMATION SURGERY. The term “STEALTH” is often associated with GRE. [top]

GENDERQUEER

A person whose gender identity does not align with binary gender categories such as “man/woman”, “boy/girl”. Genderqueer persons often identify as an intermediary gender. This identity falls under the umbrella term of transgender. [top]

HORMONE TREATMENT

The medical management of trans persons with gender appropriate hormones. For trans men, this is typically testosterone. The treatment for trans women this may include estrogen and/or anti-androgens (“T-Blockers”).[top]

INTERSEX

A general term still often used to define a variety of conditions in which a person is born with reproductive or sexual anatomy that do not seem to fit the typical definitions of cisgender norms of the gender binary. The term includes, but is not limited to: individuals who appear to be female-bodied, but have mostly male-typical anatomy; a person born with genitalia that seem to be in-between the usual binary cisgender types. Additionally, an individual may be born with “mosaic genetics”; in these cases some cells have XX chromosomes and others have XY. See DISORDERS OF SEXUAL DIFFERENTIATION (DSD) for more information. [top]

MEDICAL TRANSITION

The process of seeking and receiving various medical interventions including, but not limited to: hormone therapy (including anti-androgens/“T-blickers” for trans women), gender affirming surgeries, other related surgeries (incl. hair transplants, tracheal shaves, general cosmetic proceedures), and hair removal (e.g. electrolysis). [top]

MTF

An old term to describe trans women. See MTF for full definition. [top]

NON-BINARY

A term used to describe anyone who does not identify with static social gender binary. It includes persons who may identify as having an intermediary gender (e.g., GENDERQUEER), as being multiple genders (e.g.,BIGENDER, TWO-SPIRIT), as having a constantly shifting gender (e.g., GENDER FLUID), or as not having a gender altogether (e.g., AGENDER). The term is typically included within the definition of “transgender.”[top]

NON-OP

Trans individuals not seeking any gender affirming surgery(ies). [top]

PACKING

An activity in which some transmen create a bulge in one’s crotch by “packing” materials—socks, shirts, etc.—so as to lead others to believe they possess a penis. [top]

PASSING

See ASSUMED CIS and STEALTH. [top]

PRE-OP

Trans individuals who intend to go through GAS, but who have not yet initiated the process. This term does not include cosmetic changes such as hair removal/replacement, tracheal shaves, make-up, clothing choices and similar alterations. [top]

POST-OP

Transgender persons who have undergone at least one gender affirming surgery. [top]

REAL-LIFE TEST (RLT) OR REAL-LIFE EXPERIENCE

See GENDER ROLE EXPIERIENCE (GRE). [top]

SEX

Describes one’s phenotype, often determined by genital configuration. Sex, also known as Sexual Categorization, is based on cues of culturally presumed appearance and behavior to define a person’s sex differences that we cannot see. Referred to in terms of “male” or “female”. Due to the existence of cisnormativity, “sex” often conflated with gender identity (“men” and “women”). [top]

SHE-MALE/TRANNY

Derogatory terms used to describe some transwomen who have not undergone gender affirming surgery (GAS), usually of the genitalia. It is most often used in a sexualized and fetishized manner. [top]

SOCIAL TRANSITION

The various non-medical components of one’s transition that help one affirm and realize one’s gender identity. For example, this may include: changing one’s legal identification with changes to sex markers and name; changing the clothes one wears, and changing one’s voice, posture, and gait. [top]

STEALTH

STEALTH is living as who you are (“as cis”) and not disclosing binary differences. Non-Disclosure is generally viewed as disclosing transness prior to any intimacy really… even a date or a drink at the bar. [top]

“ T ”

Slang for Testosterone [top]

TOP SURGERY

For trans men this involves the reconstruction of a chest to a “masculine” version. For trans women, it may involve breast augmentation if desired results have not been achieved with hormone treatment (or if they cannot, or choose to not to, take estrogen). [top]

TRANS

An umbrella term for people who are not cis. It also includes those who are (or identify as) NON-BINARY (bigender, gender fluid, transgender woman, transgender man, cross dressing, etc.). [top]

TRANSITION

The full process involved in moving from living as the gender socially imposed upon a person to their true gender. [top]

TRANSPHOBIA

Fear and hatred directed at transgender individuals. Its most obvious expression is felt and seen through some form of verbal, physical, and/or sexual violence. [top]

TRANSSEXUAL

Describes persons who undergo medical transition and social transition to align the gender they live and present as with their internal gender identity. Often incorrectly conflated with CROSS DRESSER and transvestite. [top]

TRANS MAN

The umbrella term to describe individuals assigned female at birth (AFAB) who transition to live as males or somewhere on the masculine spectrum. [top]

TRANS WOMAN

The umbrella term to describe individuals assigned male at birth (AMAB) who transition to live as females or somewhere on the feminine spectrum. [top]

TWO-SPIRIT

An umbrella term describing the diversity of gender and sexual identities present in traditional belief systems held by North American First Nations persons. [top]


*If you feel that this glossary is missing a fundamental concept or keyword, please feel free to contact us with new information

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