Definitions

 

Affirming – The unequivocal support for an individual person’s gender identity or expression, regardless of of the biological sex they were assigned at birth; the systemic support to ensure that transgender people and communities are fully represented, included, valued, and honored.

Affirming Pronouns – Refers to the most respectful and accurate pronouns for a person, as defined by that person. To ascertain someone’s affirming pronouns, ask: “What are your pronouns?”

Agender – A person who does not identify as having a gender identity that can be categorized as male for female, and sometimes indicates identifying as not having a gender identity.

Biological Sex – A person’s combination of genitals, chromosomes, and hormones usually categorized as “male or “female” based on visual inspection of genitals via ultrasound or at birth. Many assume a person’s gender identity will be congruent with their sex assigned at birth.

Bigender – A person who experiences gender identity as two genders at the same time, or whose gender identity may vary between two genders. These may be masculine or feminine, or could also include non-binary identities.

Cisgender – Noting or relating to a person whose gender identity corresponds with the biological sex they were assigned at birth.

Coming Out – The process through which a LGBTQ+ person acknowledges and explains their gender identity to themselves and others.

Dead-Naming – Calling a transgender or GNC person by the name assigned to them at birth, as a way to silence or shame them.

Discrimination – Any of a broad range of actions taken to deny people access to situations/places or to inflict harm upon people.  Examples of transgender discrimination include: not hiring a transgender person, threatening a gender non-conforming person’s physical safety, denying a transgender person access to services or reporting some one for using the “wrong” bathroom.

Femme – A term used to describe a feminine person or gender expression.

Gender Binary – The idea that gender is strictly an either/or option of male/men/masculine or female/woman/feminine based on the sex assigned at birth, rather than a continuum or spectrum of gender identities and expressions. The gender binary is often considered to be limiting and problematic for all people and especially for those who do not fit neatly into the either/or categories.

Gender Conforming – A person whose gender expression is perceived as being consistent with cultural norms expected for that gender. According to these norms, boys/men are or should be masculine and girls/women are or should be feminine. Not all cisgender people are gender conforming and not all transgender people are gender non-conforming.

Gender Dysphoria (GD) – The formal diagnosis in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth Ed. (DSM 5) used by psychologists and physicians to indicate that a person meets the diagnostic criteria to engage in medical transition. In other words, the medical diagnosis for being transgender. Formerly known as Gender Identity Disorder (GID), the inclusion of Gender Dysphoria as a diagnosis in the DSM 5 is controversial in the transgender community because it implies that being transgender is a mental illness, rather than a valid identity. Since a formal diagnosis is generally required in order to receive or provide treatment in the US, it does provide access to medical care fro some people who wouldn’t ordinarily be eligible to receive it.

Gender Expression – A person’s outward gender presentation, usually compromised of personal style, clothing, hairstyle, makeup, jewelry, vocal inflection and body language. Gender expression is typically categorized as masculine or feminine, and less commonly as androgynous. Everyone expresses gender.  Gender expression can be congruent with a person’s gender identity, but it can also be incongruent if a person does not feel safe or supported, or does not have the resources to engage in gender expression that authentically reflects their gender identity.

Genderfluid – A person whose gender identity or expression shifts between masculine and feminine, or falls somewhere along this spectrum.

Gender Identity – A person’s deep seated, internal sense of who they are as a gendered being – specifically, the the gender with which they identify themselves. All people have a gender identity.

Gender Marker – The marker (male or female) that appears on a person’s identity documents (e.g. birth certificate, driver’s license, passport, travel or work visa, green card, etc.) The gender maker on a transgender person’s identity documents will be there sex assigned at birth until they under go a legal logistical process to change it, where possible.

Gender Neutral – A term that describes something (sometimes a space such as a bathroom; or an item such as a piece of clothing) that is not segregated by sex/gender.

Gender Non-Conforming (GNC) – A person whose gender expression is perceived as being inconsistent with cultural norms expected for that gender. Specifically, boys/men are not masculine enough or are feminine, while girls/women are not feminine enough or are masculine. Not all transgender people are gender non-conforming, and not all gender non-conforming people identify as transgender. Cisgender people may also be gender non-conforming. Gender non-conforming is often inaccurately confused with sexual orientation.

Genderqueer – A person whose gender identity is neither male no female, is between or beyond genders, or is some combination of genders.

HormonesHormones are messenger molecules produced by various glands throughout the body. Hormones travel via the circulatory system to deliver instructions to tissues and organs in order to regulate an individual’s physiology and behaviors such as sleep, digestion, metabolism, reproduction, emotional response as well as growth and development.

LGBTQ+ – An acronym commonly used to refer to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and/or Questioning individuals and  communities. LGBTQ+ is often erroneously used as a synonym for “non-heterosexual” which incorrectly assumes that transgender is a sexual orientation.

Medical Transition – A long-term series of medical interventions that utilizes hormonal treatments and/or surgical procedures to change a person’s body to me more congruent with their gender identity. Medical transition is the approved medical treatment for Gender Dysphoria.

Microaggresions – Small, individual acts of hostility or derision towards transgedner or GNC people, which can sometimes be unintentional. Examples of microagressions include: use of non-affirming name or pronouns, derogatory language, asking inappropriate or offensive questions, and exhibiting looks that reveal distaste or confusion.

MtF – An acronym meaning “male-to-female” typically referring to a transgender or gender non-conforming persons who transition from a masculine gender expression/identity to a more feminine gender expression/identity.

Non-Binary – A continuum or spectrum of gender identities and expressions, often based on the rejection of the gender binary’s assumption that gender is a strictly either/or option of male/man/masculine or female/woman/feminine based on sex assigned at birth.

Pangender – A person who identifies as as all genders.

Pubertal Supression – A low-risk process that “pauses” the hormonal changes that activate puberty in young adolescents. The result is a purposeful delay of the development of secondary sex characteristics (e.g. breast growth, testicular enlargement, facial hair, body fat redistribution, voice changes etc.). Suppression allows for more time to make decisions about hormonal interventions and can prevent the increased dysphoria that often accompanies puberty for transgender youth.

Questioning – A person who is exploring or questioning their gender identity or expression. Some may later identify as transgender or gender non-conforming, while others may not. Can also refer to someone who is exploring their sexual orientation.

Sex Assigned at Birth – The determination of a person’s sex based on the visual appearance of genitals at birth. The sex someone is labeled at birth.

Sex Hormones – Sex hormones regulate the development of sex characteristics – including the sex organs that develop before we are born (genitals, ovaries/testicles, etc.) and also the secondary sex characteristics that typically develop at puberty (facial/body hair, bone growth, breast growth, voice changes, etc.).

Sexual Orientation – A person’s feelings of attraction (emotional, psychological, physical, and/or sexual) towards other people. A person may be attracted to people of the same sex, to those of the opposite sex,  to those of both sexes, or without reference to sex and gender. Some people do not experience a primary sexual attraction, and may identify as asexual. Sexual orientation is about attraction to other people (external) while gender identity is a deep-seated sense of one’s self (internal). All people have sexual orientation that is separate from their biological sex, gender identity, and gender expression.

Trans – An abbreviation of “transgender”.

Transgender – An adjective used to describe a person whose gender identity is incongruent with the sex they were assigned at birth. “Transgender” serves as an umbrella term to refer to the full range and diversity of identities within the transgender community because it is the most widely used and recognized term.

Transexual/Transsexual – This is an older term that has been used to refer to a transgender person who has had hormonal or surgical interventions to change their bodies to be more aligned with their gender identity than the sex that they were assigned at birth. While still used as an identity label by some, transgender has generally become the preferred term.

(WPATH) – World Professional Associations for Transgender Health, Inc. An organization focused on knowledge and treatment of gender dysphoria. WPATH published the Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming People.

Note: Some definitions taken from “The Teaching Transgender Toolkit: A Facilitator’s Guide to Increase Knowledge, Decrease Prejudice & Building Skills” by Eli R. Green PhD, CSE and Luca Maurer MS, CSE, CFLE. This list is incomplete and will be added to occasionally.