Exploring Gender Identity

Trans* Terminology

Book Reading Blonde hairTransTerminology

Please understand that these terms are dynamic and this is by no means a complete list or is it meant to be “final” or “right”. Each of us will interpret things slightly differently, however in my research of gender identity and sexual orientation these terms are my understanding of the accepted meanings. Terms that are underlined have a link to further information, simply click on the term to access.

Androgynous The absence of gender or a mixture of both traits to result in a neutral appearance. This is an appearance or presentation chosen by the individual. 

Asexual – Indicates a lack of interest in sexual activity.

Assigned Gender – The declaration by doctors of what one’s gender is based upon genitalia appearance at birth.  One is then expected to grow up and exist within a certain set of gender roles “appropriate” to one’s assigned gender.

Autogynephilia – In its literal translation means self-love as a women. Diagnostically, it means an “erotic obsession with the image of a biological male’s self as a woman.” Sometimes considered a form of gender identity disorder or transvestic fetishism.

BDSM –  An erotic preference and a form of personal relationship involving the consensual use of restraint, intense sensory stimulation, and fantasy power role play. The acronym BDSM combines bondage and discipline (B&D or B/D), dominance and submission (D&S or D/s), and sadism and masochism (S&M or S/M). BDSM includes a wide range of activities, forms of interpersonal relationships, and distinct subcultures.

Bind – To tape one’s breasts flat to hide their appearance. 

Bi-Gendered – A person who identifies with both masculine and feminine gender. May express gender as fluid or androgynous or may live at times as female and other time as male.

Bisexual – Sexual attraction to both men and women. 

Blending – Alternate word to “Passing”, more accurately defines the act of blending into society as the identified gender. 

Closet, In the – Not disclosing or being secretive about the sexual orientation and/or gender identity of oneself.

Coming Out – The process of becoming aware of, understanding, and accepting the sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression of the self.   Also, the ongoing process of decision making about the level of openness a person feels in disclosing such information about oneself to others.

Crossdresser – The act of wearing clothing and other accoutrement commonly associated with the opposite sex within a particular society.

CHT, Contra-Hormone Therapy – The medical administration of hormones to suppress existing hormones and supply the hormones of the perceived gender.  Used to treat Gender Incongruity or Gender Dysphoria.  Not to be confused with HRT.

Cisgender – Specifically means “not-transgender”, and is used to mean genetic girl (GG) or genetic boy (GB).  A person with a matching gender identity and physical sex who has never questioned their gender. 

Detransition – To return to living as a member of one’s biological sex after a period of living full-time in the target sex. 

DRAG – “Dressed As a Girl”, Wearing the clothes of the female sex.  Originally used in theatre of old England when women were not allowed to perform so the men played all roles.  Now days it is still used for theatrical purposes, but also carries the implication of being Gay or Transgender.  See “Drag Queen and Drag King”.

Drag King – A gay female who dresses in men’s clothing, usually in a theatrical manner and often will perform on stage (i.e. Drag Show).  Usually this is done for fun. It is very popular in the lesbian community and does not indicate the individual is transgender although sometimes they are. 

Drag Queen – A gay male who dresses in women’s clothing, usually in an extravagant manner and often will perform on stage (i.e. Drag Show).  Usually this is done for fun.  It is also done to attract the attention of other gay men.  Does not indicate the individual is transgender although sometimes they are. 

Electrolysis – Permanent hair removal by use of an electronic probe inserted into the hair follicle thus producing a chemical that kills the root.  Used by MtoF’s for facial hair removal and body hair that is excessive. 

Female Impersonator – A male who performs in the role of a female, sometimes lip synching , sometimes able to sing or speak in a female voice,  exaggerating the mannerisms of the star being impersonated.  “La Cage show” in Las Vegas is a good example. 

Feminine – The traits of a woman such as soft, curvy, voluptuous, attractive, receptive, subtle, gentle and serene.  This energy is slow moving and emotional.  It is equated with the Yin in Eastern Philosophy.  This term can be somewhat ambiguous and depends on use, location and nationality of user.  It can be referred to as a feeling or an appearance. 

Femme – This term can be used to identify any person who expresses and/or presents culturally/stereotypically hyper-feminine characteristics.  A person, who self-identifies, mainly with the stereotypically feminine end of a gender characteristic spectrum.

Fetish – An object or bodily part whose real or fantasized presence is psychologically necessary for sexual gratification and that is an object of fixation to the extent that it may interfere with complete sexual expression. For instance, if you’re attracted to brunettes, that’s one thing, but if you are unable to get aroused unless you’re with a brunette, then you likely have a fetish.

FtoM (F2M) – Female to Male transsexual, can be used to denote an individual assigned female at birth who identifies as male, either full or part-time. FtoM’s often dress as male and assume a male role in society. “Female to Male” is also used to describe the process of transition, “a transition from female to male,” rather than as a noun. Many people who have transitioned from female to male prefer the terms “transman” or “man.”

Full-time – Living 24/7; living all the time as the gender in which one self-identifies.

Gay – A man who is attracted to other men.  Sometimes used to refer to women who are attracted to women.  See “Homosexual”

Gender Affirming Surgery – The latest term for Sex change surgery/genital surgery referring to the operation of changing ones sexual organ to best resemble the opposite sex.  Male to female or Female to male.  See GRS or SRS also.

Gender Bender – To remain within assigned gender but actively transgress, or “bend,” expected gender roles. (Such as a girl playing football or a boy being prom queen).

Gender Blended – This is a person who defines themselves as both genders simultaneously.

Gender Dysphoria – The condition where a person’s gender identity is incongruent with their anatomical sex. Dysphoria means “hard to bear,” and when applied to gender, means that an individual has a feeling of being ill at ease with their “gender” as assigned at birth.  Gender discomfort is the feeling of being unhappy with the anatomical sex, and usually the way one is treated, as opposed to the gender one feels like inside.

Gender Fluid – Someone who is gender fluid identifies as both male and female and shifts back and forth in varying degrees of masculine and feminine or other.

Gender Expression – How a person expresses their gender identity which can include manner of dress, speech patterns and pitch, movement, and mannerisms.

Gender Identity – How a person views internal identity with regard to gender. Gender identity includes how individuals feel about their physical body and their societal roles, expectations, and behaviors.  Separate and different from an individual’s physical sex or sexual orientation (hetero, homo, bi, or asexual), it is an individual’s perception of the inner self as man, woman or some combination of both – transgender.

Gender Identity Disorder – The American Psychiatric Association’s terminology for Gender Dysphoria.  There is no known cure for GID except to transition the patient to the opposite gender.

Gender Incongruency – A marked incongruence between one’s experienced/ expressed gender and assigned gender, of at least 6 months duration.

Gender Queer – A person who “bends” the socially accepted “rules” of gender presentation.  A gender identity other than man or woman. People who identify as gender queer may think of themselves as being both man and woman, as being neither man nor woman, or as falling completely outside gender boundaries.  Some people object to the term and connotation around “queer”. Often used as a catchall term for anyone not fitting into gender roles, and feels like they do not fit the other terms.

Gender Reassignment Surgery (GRS) – see Sexual Reassignment Surgery, also now being referred to as Genital Reassignment Surgery.  The latest term is Gender Affirming Surgery (GAS)

Gender Role – The part played by a person in a particular social setting, influenced by expectation of what is appropriate.  Expectations are changing as society grows and are becoming more universal and nondescript. 

Gender Variant – Gender variance is behavior that is different from traditionally defined “masculine” in males and “feminine” in females.

Getting Read – Being detected as a person who is crossdressed.

Heterosexual – A person who is attracted to the opposite sex or gender.

Homosexual – A person who is attracted to the same sex or gender. 

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) – The medical administration of hormones to replace hormones due to surgery or menopause.  Used to treat cisgender women.  See “CHT for transgender hormone treatment”

Intersex – An individual born with both male and female sexual organs or parts of both.  Historically called Hermaphrodite, however this term is no longer in use.

Kinky – Involving or given to bizarre or deviant sexual behavior, such as sexually provocative clothing in an unusual way.

Lesbian – A woman who is attracted to other women, see “Homosexual”.

Male Impersonator – A female who performs in the role of a male, sometimes lip synching , sometimes able to sing or speak in a male voice,  exaggerating the mannerisms of the star being impersonated.  “Victor-Victoria” the stage production and movie is a good example. 

Man – A person who presents themselves as “male” or a male gender role.  FtoM transgender and transsexual individuals see themselves as a man.

Masculine – The traits of a man, such as strong, hard, angular, rough, aggressive, and active.   This energy is often fast moving and less emotional than the feminine.  It is equated with the Yang in the Eastern Philosophies.  This is an often ambiguous term that can be either a feeling or an appearance.

MtoF (M2F, MTF) – Male to Female transsexual, can be used to denote an individual assigned male at birth that identifies as female, either full or part-time. MTFs often dress as female and assume a female role in society. “Male to Female” is also used to describe the process of transition, “a transition from male to female,” rather than as a noun. Many people who have transitioned from male to female prefer the terms “transwoman” or “woman.”

Neuter – Referring to one who has neither female or male primary sex characteristics, sometimes used to mean androgynous. 

Non-Operative (Non-Op) – A term to describe transgender individuals who have not had and may not desire to have sexual reassignment surgery.

Orchiectomy – The removal of the testes, the medical term for castration.  Some transwomen have an “orchie” to stop testosterone production in lieu of GRS which may be either too distant or not possible. 

Out – The public disclosure of one’s inner gender or sexual identity, past tense.  Coming out is the process of this disclosure. 

Outing – To disclose a second person’s inner and private gender or sexual identity to a third person, usually without the second person’s permission. 

Pack – To put an object, often a dildo, in one’s pants to suggest to others the presence of a penis.

Pansexual – A sexual orientation characterized by the potential for aesthetic attraction, romantic love, and/or sexual desire for people, regardless of their gender identity or biological sex.  A term intended to negate the idea of two genders.

Passing – The ability to go undetected as a transgender person, also applies to crossdressing.

Ping – To scrutinize a person in order to ascertain whether they are transgender or not. (I’m being pinged by that man).

Pre-operative (Pre-op) – A term used to describe transsexual individuals who plan to have SRS.

Polyamorous – Having multiple consenting intimate relationships concurrently.  Similar to polygamous but without formal commitment.

Post-operative (Post-op) – A term used to describe transsexual individuals who have undergone SRS/GRS.

Purge – Throwing away or destroying of one’s clothing, makeup, and effects of other sex presentation.  Usually driven by guilt, and often a part of a cycle of yielding to gender expression, then rejecting it out of guilt or fear. 

Sexual Reassignment Surgery (SRS) – When an individual’s sex organs are surgically altered to match the inner perceived gender.  Basically a male sex organ is changed to a female appearance, or a female sex organ is changed to appear as male as possible. The new techniques are quite advanced and very realistic when done properly. See also, GRS, GAS.

She-Male or Shemale – A term that came from the porn business and describes a man with breasts, or a person with both breasts and male genitalia.  This is considered a derogatory term.  The proper term is pre-op transsexual or non-op transgender.  Always ask a person how they identify when you do not know.

Standards of Care – The medical protocol defining the controlled process consisting of psychological therapy, hormone therapy, real life test, transitioning to the desired gender and sexual reassignment surgery.

Stealth – A mode where a post-op transsexual hides their past sex.

Straight – Describes a person who does not participate in “dangerous” activities such as drugs, alcohol, sex trade, deviant sex, or criminal activity.

Transgender – A person appearing to or attempting to be a member of the opposite sex, such as a transsexual or habitual crossdresser.  This is an umbrella term often used to include the entire community of individuals who cross gender boundaries on a consistent basis.

Transition – movement, passage, or change from one position, state, stage, subject, concept, etc., to another. In relation to gender it is the period when a person begins living in the desired gender in gradual stages. It is often a very long process involving years and involves physical, mental, and spiritual changes.

Transphobia – The fear and hatred of crossdressers, transsexuals, or gender queers and what they do (or are feared to do).  This ranges from disrespect to denial of rights and needs, to violence.  A form of oppression based on gender identity expression.

Transsexual – A person having a strong desire to assume the physical characteristics and gender role of the opposite sex. And who has undergone hormone treatment and/or surgery to attain the physical characteristics of the opposite sex.

Transvestite A person who dresses and acts in a style or manner traditionally associated with the opposite sex, often doing this full time.  This term is no longer regularly used.

Tuck – To tape one’s penis and testicles back to remove the suggestion of their presence.

Two-Spirit – A term adopted in 1990 by the third annual intertribal Native American/First Nations gay and lesbian conference to refer to Native Americans who are believed to have both male and female souls in one body.  This is an inclusive term.

Unisex – Clothing, behaviors, thoughts, feelings, relationships, etc. that are considered appropriate for members of both genders/sexes.

Woman – A person who identifies and presents themselves as a “female” or a female gender role.  MtoF transgender and transsexual individuals often see themselves as a woman or perhaps a woman in a male body.

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