en English

Glossary of Terms

Here you can find all of the terminology relating to the trans community.

Glossary

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

This glossary contains usage notes for terms that might be outdated or problematic. We understand that everyone’s journey is different, and that not all people prefer the same ways of referring to themselves. The most important thing is to always try and use an individual’s preferred terms, and to listen to them if they correct you.

(Mistakes happen, and the best thing to do is keep on learning!)

A

Ace

Ace (short for asexual) is used as an umbrella term to express a variation in ones levels of romantic and/or sexual attraction, including a complete lack thereof.

Ace people often describe themselves using a variety of terms, including, but not limited to, asexual (ace), aromantic (aro), demisexual (demis) etc.

Preferred Use:

Use the term preferred by the person.

Agender

Someone who identifies as having no gender.

Androgyny

An expression of gender which contains both masculine and feminine elements.

Androgyne

Sometimes used instead of intersex.

Ally

A trans ally is someone who supports the LGBT community and specifically trans people, but isn’t trans themselves.

Aromantic

See Ace.

Asexual

See Ace.

B

Bi (Bisexual)

Bi is an umbrella term used to describe a romantic and/or sexual orientation to more than one gender – commonly ‘male/female’ binary genders. However, those who describe themselves as bi may also be inclusive of non-binary and may also describe themselves as bisexual, pan, pansexual, queer, heteroflexible, homoflexible and other non-monosexual identities.

Preferred Use:

Use the term preferred by the person. In contemporary usage pansexual and bisexual are often used interchangeably.

Bicurious

See Questioning.

Problematic/Derogatory/Defamatory:

This term can imply that a person’s sexuality is ‘just a phase’, and should be avoided where possible.

Biological sex

A medical term used to refer to the chromosomal and anatomical characteristics that are used to classify an individual as female or male or intersex. Often referred to as simply “sex,” “physical sex,” “anatomical sex,” or specifically as “sex assigned at birth.”

Problematic/Derogatory/Defamatory:

Biological sex is sometimes used in a discriminatory sense to imply that trans men and women are not ‘real’ men and women. ‘Sex assigned at birth’ is more trans positive.

Bigender

Having more than one gender, generally fluctuating between two gender identities.

Binder

Garment worn to alter or reduce the appearance of the chest. Binding – verb : the (sometimes daily) process of wearing a binder.

Biphobia

The fear and/or dislike, hatred and prejudice towards those who identify as bisexual.

C

Cisgender

Or simply ‘cis’. A term which has its origins in the Latin prefix meaning ‘within’, as opposed to trans, meaning ‘across’ or ‘on the other side of’. Used to describe people who are not transgender (i.e. whose gender identity aligns with their birth assigned sex).

Cishet

Cisgender person who is heterosexual.

Cisnormativity

The assumption that all people are cisgender, by individuals and institutions and that to be cisgender is ‘normal’ and in some cases superior to any other gender identity (See also Cisheteronormativity).

Cisheteronormativity

Societal and cultural norms which not only assume cisgender and heterosexuality in the first instance, but that accept, encourage, and reward cisgender and hetero people and behaviours deemed ‘normal’, whilst discouraging, dismissing, and often discriminating against those who fall outside of these categories, deeming them ‘abnormal’.

Closeted/in the closet

Someone who has not yet ‘come out’ to others or who has not yet accepted their gender identity or sexuality.

Coming In

The process of discovery and learning that a trans person goes through to understand their gender identity.

Coming Out

When a person tells someone/others about their identity as lesbian, gay, bi, trans etc.

Cross-dresser

Cross-dresser generally refers to those who may wear the clothing of a gender that differs from the sex which they were assigned at birth for the purpose of self-expression or sometimes sexual pleasure. Some cross-dressers and may exhibit an overlap with components of a transgender identity. The term transvestite is no longer used in the English language and is considered pejorative.

Preferred Use:

Use the term preferred by the person.

Problematic/Derogatory/Defamatory:

Transgender women are not cross-dressers or drag queens. Do not use the word “transvestite”, unless someone specifically self-identifies that way. Bear in mind that although this phrase can be considered offensive, older members of the trans community may use cross-dresser, transvestite, transsexual and transgender interchangeably.

D

Drag Queen / Drag King

Drag is usually seen as a performance art in which hyperfemininity or hypermasculinity is performed theatrically.

Deadnaming

Calling a trans person by their birth name after they’ve changed it or outing them to others by referring to them by their birth name, rather than the name they choose to go by.

Problematic/Derogatory/Defamatory:

Deadnaming is almost always derogatory or harmful.

Demi (Demisexual)

See Ace.

Dox / Doxing

Doxing (or doxxing) is the practice of obtaining personal and private information about an individual (or company) often including personal details and then broadcasting that information online for others to see. This is often vindictive and carried out with malicious intent.

E

F

FTM

While FTM (female-to-male) used to be an acceptable term this is increasingly considered offensive by some members of the trans community and as such its use should be avoided (the same rule applies to MTF).

Problematic/Derogatory/Defamatory:

Although this term should be avoided in general, it may still be used by older members of the trans community without intent to cause offence.

G

Gay

Referring to a man who is romantically or sexually attracted to other men. Also used generically for lesbian and gay sexuality (homosexuality) – some lesbians prefer the term gay.

Problematic/Derogatory/Defamatory:

Used outside of LGBT+ community as a derogatory term for someone who is in fact gay or as slang for ‘bad’ or ‘not good’.

Gender Binary

The notion that there are only two genders: male and female.

Gender Dysphoria

Gender dysphoria (formerly known as gender identity disorder in the fourth version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) Gender dysphoria describes the distress, pain, anguish and discomfort that can be felt by the presence of gender incongruence – when your gender identity is at odds with the gender you were assigned at birth.

Gender Expression

The outward manner in which an individual expresses or displays their gender. This may include choices in clothing and hairstyle, or speech and mannerisms. Gender identity and gender expression may differ; for example a woman (transgender or cisgender) may have an androgynous appearance, or a man (transgender or cisgender) may have a feminine form of self-expression.

Gender Fluid / Fluctuating Gender

Moving between or overlapping the genders.

Gender Identity

Gender identity is how people experience their innate gender, in their heart, mind, body and soul.

Gender Identity Disorder (GID)

Outdated – see Gender Dysphoria.

Problematic/Derogatory/Defamatory:

All terms that describe trans identity as a disorder are pejorative.

Gender Incongruence

Gender incongruence has become the preferred term for the ‘medical diagnosis’ of what it means to be transgender (ICD-11). When your gender identity is at odds with the gender you were assigned at birth. When your primary (genitals) and secondary (pubertal changes) sex characteristics, and the associated cultural gender role, are different to what is expected based on society’s ‘norms’.

Gender Neutral

Gender neutral is an often misused phrase. It is not a gender identity, but a descriptor given to an item or activity. Many items are ‘gendered’ in western society. ‘Gender neutral’ is a descriptor of those items/ activities that haven’t been attributed a gender i.e. pink is considered female, blue is considered male, yellow is considered gender neutral.

Gender Nonconformity

Gender nonconformity is not about gender identity. It is purely about how an individual – either cis or trans – expresses themselves through their dress and behaviours. Certain appearances and behaviours are attributed with a gender (i.e. pink = female), gender nonconformity is where an individual presents themselves through gendered clothing/ activities/ behaviour that doesn’t align with the gender they were assigned at birth. Gender nonconformity is purely about how someone presents themselves. Just because someone is gender nonconforming, it doesn’t mean they are trans.

Preferred Use:

Only to be used if someone self-identifies as gender nonconforming.

Gender Recognition Certificate

A Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) is document which allows a trans person to be reissued a birth certificate in their identified gender. A GRC is NOT required for a trans person to be legally recognised in their affirmed gender – this is covered by the 2010 Equality Act.

Gender Variance

Used to describe all variation from ‘expected’ conventional gender norms.

Genderqueer
Gillick Competence

A term used in medical law to decide whether a child (under 16 years of age) is able to consent to their own medical treatment, without the need for parental consent or knowledge.

H

Hetero (Heterosexual) / Straight

Refers to a man or woman who has romantic and/or sexual orientation towards the opposite gender.

Preferred Use:

Some trans people may consider themselves heterosexual if their sexual orientation is towards the opposite gender.

Homophobia

The fear of and/or dislike, hatred and prejudice towards those who identify as LGB.

Homosexual

Used to describe a romantic/sexual preference for same sex relationships. The term ‘gay’ is now more generally used.

Problematic/Derogatory/Defamatory:

‘Homo’ is a slur and should be avoided.

I

Intersex

Used to describe a person who may have ambiguous biological attributes or attributes of both sexes.

Preferred Use:

Intersex person.

Problematic/Derogatory/Defamatory:

‘Hermaphrodite’ is outdated and should be avoided.

J

K

L

Lesbian

Used to describe a woman’s romantic/sexual preference for same-sex relationships. The term ‘gay’ is now more generally used.

LGBT

The acronym for lesbian, gay, bi and trans. Sometimes written as LGBT+ to include more groups under the umbrella of ‘+’.

LGBTQIA

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and/or questioning, intersex and asexual.

M

MTF

While MTF (male-to-female) used to be an acceptable term this is increasingly considered offensive by some members of the trans community and as such its use should be avoided (the same rule applies to FTM).

Problematic/Derogatory/Defamatory:

Although this term should be avoided in general, it may still be used by older members of the trans community without intent to cause offence.

N

Neutrois

Someone who identifies as having no gender.

Non-binary and/or Genderqueer

A person who identifies as neither male nor female. A spectrum of gender identities which may or may not include binary genders. Some may define their gender identity as being somewhere in between man and woman, some may reject these binary categories entirely. Some people may identify as gender fluid or fluctuating gender (moving between or overlapping the binary genders), having more than one gender (bigender, trigender, pangender), having no gender (agender, neutrois, gender neutral), or third gender/other – those who do not wish to label their gender).

Preferred Use:

Use the term preferred by the person.

Problematic/Derogatory/Defamatory:

Gender-bender, he-she, shemale, trannie, tranny. These words only serve to dehumanize transgender people and should never be used.

O

Outed

When a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity is disclosed without prior consent.

Problematic/Derogatory/Defamatory:

Sometimes done on purpose to humiliate the victim. Other times can be done in error.

P

Pan (Pansexual)

A person whose romantic/sexual attraction towards other people is not limited by sex or gender. Pansexual is often used by people in place of ‘bisexual’ as it more explicitly recognises the non binary nature of peoples identities and is considered by some as more inclusive.

Preferred Use:

Use the term preferred by the person. In contemporary usage pansexual and bisexual are often used interchangeably.

Pangender

Having more than one gender (see also Non-binary and/or Genderqueer).

Passing

The ability of a transgender person to ‘pass’ as cis. For many trans people this is seen as the ultimate objective. However, some trans people consider ‘passing’ as adhering to cisnormativity and think that society should embrace the gender non-conforming presentation of trans identities.

Problematic/Derogatory/Defamatory:

This term can be problematic because “passing” implies “passing yourself off as something/someone you may not be”. ‘Passing privilege’ refers to the idea that people who can pass are better off than other trans people, and can be used in a derogatory or divisive way within the community.

Person with Trans history

Some transgender people who have completed their physical transition and are living in their affirmed gender don’t consider themselves trans as part of their everyday lived experience. Instead of calling themselves ‘trans’ they might refer to themselves as ‘having a trans history’.

Preferred Pronouns

The pronoun (e.g. she, he, they) with which a person most identifies. Some people use neopronouns, such as ze/zir/zirs.

Preferred Use:

Ask people which pronoun they would like you to use.

Q

QPOC / QTPOC

Acronym for queer people of colour and queer and/or trans people of colour.

Queer

Queer is a term used by people who want to reject labels of sexual and/or romantic orientation and/or gender identity. It is increasingly frequently used as a generic term for any/all LGBT+ identities.

Preferred Use:

Within context of discussion about LGBT+ community and not to be used as a term to describe an individual or group who has/have not described themselves as such.

Problematic/Derogatory/Defamatory:

Although it has been reclaimed by the queer community some LGBT+ people, particularly older members of the community, still consider this word a slur. Sometimes used outside of the LGBT+ community as a derogatory term.

Questioning

Someone who is unsure of, or exploring their own sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Sometimes described as bicurious although this term can imply two genders, so ‘questioning’ is often preferred.

R

S

Sex

The sex assigned at birth, medically based on the presence of what genitals a baby has.

Preferred Use:

Assigned male or female at birth / designated male or female at birth / birth-assigned sex.

Problematic/Derogatory/Defamatory:

Avoid terms like biologically male/female, genetically male/female or born a man/born a woman as these enforce the idea of a binary gender and can imply that trans men/women are not ‘real’ men/women.

Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS)

Also called Gender Confirmation Surgery (GCS), Genital Reconstructive Surgery (GRS), or Gender Affirmation Surgery (GAS).

Problematic/Derogatory/Defamatory:

Sex Reassignment Surgery and similar phrases like ‘sex change’ are outdated and may be considered offensive. GCS, GRS and GAS are usually fine.

Sexual Orientation

Describes sexual attraction only, and is not directly related to gender identity. The sexual orientation of transgender people should be defined by the individual. It is described based on the lived gender; a transgender woman attracted to other women would be a lesbian, and a transgender man attracted to other men would be a gay man.

Stealth

When trans people don’t announce / hide their trans identity in their everyday lives. This can often involve erasing any links with their previous identity and lives. While going in ‘stealth’ can give the benefit of being treated as cis it can take a psychological toll in keeping the ‘secret’.

Problematic/Derogatory/Defamatory:

This term can be problematic because “stealth” implies deceit or dishonesty and underhandedness.

T

Third Gender / Other

A person who does not wish to label their gender (see also Non-binary and/or Genderqueer).

Trans

Short for transgender or transsexual. Can sometimes be used to be inclusive of the wider variety of identities which fall under the umbrella of transgender.

Preferred Use:

Should always be used as an adjective, e.g. ‘trans man’ or ‘trans woman’ but never ‘transman’ or ‘transwoman’.

Transgender (adj.)

A person whose gender identity differs from the sex that was assigned at birth. May be abbreviated to trans. In a binary sense a transgender man is someone with a male gender identity and a female birth assigned sex; a transgender woman is someone with a female gender identity and a male birth assigned sex. Some non-binary, a-gender, genderfluid, trans masculine, trans feminine people, also consider themselves trans whilst some do not identify with this label. A non-transgender person may be referred to as cisgender (cis=same side in Latin). Many trans people consider ‘being transgender’ as merely the moment in time that they transitioned from their gender assigned at birth, to their identified gender. Once they have finished their physical transition and are fully integrated and treated as the gender with which they identify, they may not describe themselves in the present as ‘transgender’, but rather ‘male / female’, and as ‘a person with a trans history’. When using this label to describe someone it is always important to ensure that they are comfortable with the use of it and that it does not put them in danger (is not ‘outing’ them).

Preferred Use:

Should always be used as an adjective e.g. ‘transgender people’, ‘a transgender person’, ‘being transgender’, ‘the transgender community’, ‘the movement for transgender equality and acceptance’.

Problematic/Derogatory/Defamatory:

The following uses are inaccurate and could be offensive, and should be avoided: transgenders, a transgender, transgendered, transgenderism. Tran and tranny are slurs and should never be used.

Transgender Man

A person who has been assigned female at birth but identifies as a man. Can be shortened to trans man.

Problematic/Derogatory/Defamatory:

Older members of the community may still use FTM even though it is generally considered outdated.

Transgender Woman

A person who has been assigned male at birth but identifies as a woman. Can be shortened to trans woman, or MTF (male-to-female), though this is considered offensive by some.

Problematic/Derogatory/Defamatory:

Older members of the community may still use MTF even though it is generally considered outdated.

Transition(ing)

Changes made by trans and nonbinary people to feel more in line with their gender identity. This can include telling people, dressing differently, changing one’s name on documents, therapy, hormone therapy and possibly surgeries. Transitioning can involve social/ medical/ surgical transitioning or any part of the above.

Preferred Use:

  • Transition
  • Transitioning

Problematic/Derogatory/Defamatory:

The following phrases are outdated and might be offensive: sex change, sex change op, pre-op/post-op.

Trans-masculine/trans-feminine

Terms to describe gender nonconforming or non-binary persons, based on the directionality of their gender identity. A trans-masculine person has a masculine spectrum gender identity, with the sex of female listed on their original birth certificate. A trans-feminine person has a feminine spectrum gender identity, the sex of the male listed on their original birth certificate. In portions of these Guidelines, in the interest of brevity and clarity, transgender men/women are inclusive of gender non-conforming or non-binary persons on the respective spectre.

Transphobia

The fear and/or dislike, hatred and prejudice towards those who identify as trans, including the refusal to accept or the denial of the trans person’s gender identity. In more subtle ways, transphobia can express itself in the form of cisnormativity.

Transsexual (adj.)

A more clinical term which had historically been used to describe those transgender people who sought medical intervention (hormones, surgery) for gender affirmation. This term is less commonly used in present day, however some individuals and communities maintain a strong and affirmative connection to this term.

The term is still used most noticeably in medical and research papers.

Preferred Use:

Use the term preferred by the person.

Problematic/Derogatory/Defamatory:

Among younger members of the trans community this is generally considered outdated and offensive. However, older members may still use this term to describe themselves and others without intending to cause offence.

Trigender

Having more than one gender (see also Non-binary and/or Genderqueer).

U

V

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X

Y

Z