Glossary

A

AFAB


Acronyms meaning “assigned female at birth” (also designated female at birth or female assigned at birth).




AMAB


Acronyms meaning “assigned male at birth” (also designated male at birth or male assigned at birth).




Agender


A term commonly under the trans umbrella encompasses many different genders of people who commonly do not have a gender and/or have a gender that they describe as neutral. As a new and quickly-evolving term, it is best you ask how someone defines agender for themselves.




Ally


A person who is not LGBTQIA+ but shows support for LGBTQIA+ people and promotes equality in a variety of ways.




Aromantic


The lack of romantic attraction, and one identifying with this orientation. This may be used as an umbrella term for other emotional attractions such as demiromantic.




Asexual


The lack of a sexual attraction, and one identifying with this orientation. This may be used as an umbrella term for other emotional attractions such as demisexual.









B

Bigender


Refers to those who identify as two genders. Can also identify as multigender (identifying as two or more genders). This term should not be confused with two-spirit, which is specifically associated with Native American and First Nations cultures. Please see the definition of two-spirit below.




Binary


A system only encompassing two options. This term is also used as an adjective to describe the genders female/male or woman/man. Since the binary genders are the only ones recognized by society as being legitimate, they enjoy an unfairly privileged status.




Biological Sex


The classification of a person as male or female. At birth, infants are assigned a sex, usually based on the appearance of their external anatomy. (This is what is written on the birth certificate.) A person’s sex, however, is actually a combination of bodily characteristics including: chromosomes, hormones, internal and external reproductive organs, and secondary sex characteristics.





C






F

FTM: Female to Male


Generally refers to someone who was identified female at birth but who identifies and portrays his gender as male. Some people prefer to be referred to as men rather than transmen or transgender men. Alternate terms: affirmed male, FTM, gender-affirmed male, man.




Femme


An identity or presentation that leans towards femininity. Femme can be an adjective (he’s a femme boy), a verb (she feels better when she “femmes up”), or a noun (they’re a femme). It’s used by many to describe a distinct gender identity and/or expression, and does not imply that one also identifies as a woman.





G

Gender


Gender is more complex than most of us have been taught. Gender is made up of three parts: 1. Gender biology (our bodies or biological sex — our sex assigned at birth based on the appearance of genitals) 2. Gender expression (how we dress and act) 3. Gender identity (how we feel inside) For most people, these three facets of gender line up and the people are typically gendered boys or girls (cisgender). For other kids, however, these three facets of gender align differently; these people are gender-expansive, which includes transgender people.




Gender Dysphoria (Social)


Significant distress caused when a person’s assigned birth gender is not the same as the one with which they identify. According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the term – which replaces Gender Identity Disorder – “is intended to better characterize the experiences of affected children, adolescents, and adults.”




Gender Dysphoria (Medical)


A controversial DSM-III and DSM-IV diagnosis given to transgender and other gender-nonconforming people. Because it labels people as “disordered,” Gender Identity Disorder is often considered offensive. The diagnosis is frequently given to children who don’t conform to expected gender norms in terms of dress, play or behavior. Such children are often subjected to intense psychotherapy, behavior modification and/or institutionalization. This term was replaced by the term “gender dysphoria” in the DSM-5.




Gender Expression


External appearance of one’s gender identity, usually expressed through behavior, clothing, haircut or voice, and which may or may not conform to socially defined behaviors and characteristics typically associated with being either masculine or feminine.




Gender Fluid


According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a person who does not identify with a single fixed gender; of or relating to a person having or expressing a fluid or unfixed gender identity. A changing or “fluid” identity.




Gender Identity


A person’s internal, deeply held sense of their gender. For transgender people, their own internal gender identity does not match the sex they were assigned at birth. Most people have a gender identity of man or woman (or boy or girl). For some people, their gender identity does not fit neatly into one of those two choices (see non-binary and/or genderqueer below.) Unlike gender expression (see below) gender identity is not visible to others.




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




Gender Queer


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.





H

Heteronormative / Heteronormativity


Terms referring to the assumption that heterosexuality is the norm, which plays out in interpersonal interactions and society and furthers the marginalization of queer people.





L

LGBTQIA+


A collection of identities short for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, aromantic, pansexual, polysexual (sometimes abbreviated to LGBT or LGBTQ+). Sometimes this acronym is replaced with “queer.” Note that “ally” is not included in this acronym.





M

MTF: Male to Female


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 trans women 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. Alternate terms: affirmed female, gender-affirmed female, MTF, woman.





N

Non-Binary


Preferred umbrella term for all genders other than female/male or woman/man, used as an adjective (e.g. Jesse is a nonbinary person). Not all nonbinary people identify as trans and not all trans people identify as nonbinary. Sometimes (and increasingly), nonbinary can be used to describe the aesthetic/presentation/expression of a cisgender or transgender person.





Q

Queer


General term for gender and sexual minorities who are not cisgender and/or heterosexual. There is a lot of overlap between queer and trans identities, but not all queer people are trans and not all trans people are queer. The word queer is still sometimes used as a hateful slur, so although it has mostly been reclaimed, be careful with its use.





S

Sex Assigned at Birth


The assignment and classification of people as male, female, intersex, or another sex assigned at birth often based on physical anatomy at birth and/or karyotyping.




Sex Orientation


A person’s physical, romantic, emotional, aesthetic, and/or other form of attraction to others. In Western cultures, gender identity and sexual orientation are not the same. Trans people can be straight, bisexual, lesbian, gay, asexual, pansexual, queer, etc. just like anyone else. For example, a trans woman who is exclusively attracted to other women would often identify as lesbian.





T

Trans


Prefix or adjective used as an abbreviation of transgender, derived from the Latin word meaning “across from” or “on the other side of.”




Transgender


An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from what is typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth. People under the transgender umbrella may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms – including transgender. Some of those terms are defined below. Use the descriptive term preferred by the person. Many transgender people are prescribed hormones by their doctors to bring their bodies into alignment with their gender identity. Some undergo surgery as well. But not all transgender people can or will take those steps, and a transgender identity is not dependent upon physical appearance or medical procedures.




Transsexual


A deprecated term that is often considered pejorative similar to transgender in that it indicates a difference between one’s gender identity and sex assigned at birth. Transsexual often – though not always – implicates hormonal/surgical transition from one binary gender (male or female) to the other. Unlike transgender/trans, transsexual is not an umbrella term, as many transgender people do not identify as transsexual. When speaking/writing about trans people, please avoid the word transsexual unless asked to use it by a transsexual person.




Transphobia


Systemic violence against trans people, associated with attitudes such as fear, discomfort, distrust, or disdain. This word is used similarly to homophobia, xenophobia, misogyny, etc.




Two-Spirit


A term created by First Nations/Native American/Indigenous peoples whose sexual orientation and/or gender/sex exists in ways that challenge colonial constructions of a gender binary. This term should not be appropriated to describe people who are not First Nations/Native American/Indigenous members





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