Agender – A person who does not identify themselves as having a particular gender and may feel as though they fall outside of the gender spectrum. Some agender people may define their gender as neither male nor female, while others may consider themselves genderless (i.e. they do not possess a gender at all). Agender people may or may not transition socially, medically, and/or legally (Trans Primer, 2019). Kai always felt deeply uncomfortable claiming any sort of gender identity, and gradually began to realize that they were agender.
Androgen – A group of masculinizing hormones (such as testosterone) that are either produced endogenously by a person’s body or administered exogenously via injections, tablets, topical gels, and/or subcutaneous implants.
Androgyny or Androgynous – A term often used to reference a person’s outward gender expression, although it is occasionally used to describe someone whose gender identity falls outside of the gender binary. When applied to gender expression, androgyny may involve appearances that combine conventionally masculine and feminine traits, or gender presentations that fall outside of the binary.
Antiandrogen – A medication that inhibits the effects of endogenous androgens (such as testosterone) on the body by either blocking androgen receptors and/or suppressing androgen production. Spironolactone is an example of medication with anti-androgenic properties—it is occasionally prescribed to some transgender people who undergo hormone replacement therapy.
Aromantic – A person who generally does not experience intimate amorous or passionate feelings for others, and may not be interested in pursuing romantic relationships. Note, however, that aromantic people are perfectly capable of experiencing platonic and familial love, as well as enjoying sexual intimacy. Interestingly, the term “aromantic” did not become associated with its present-day meaning until the 1980s or 1990s, when early Internet surfers began using it to describe a lack of desire for romantic relationships.
Asexual – An individual who does not experience sexual feelings or desires (not to be confused with celibacy, in which a person experiences sexual attraction but purposefully declines to act on these desires). People who are asexual may feel romantic attraction toward others but may not have any interest in, or desire for, sexual intimacy. Jason considered himself asexual; although he occasionally had sex with his partners, he didn’t require sexual intimacy in order to feel fulfilled.
Assigned Gender – Refers to the legally denoted gender assigned to newborn children based on external primary sex characteristics. In modern-day western culture, a person’s assigned sex is typically conflated with their gender identity, which consequently defines a person’s gender role and its associated expectations. Assigned gender is based on the appearance of a person’s genitals, and is not related to—or a reflection of—one’s gender identity, or internal sense of gender.
Bigender – A person who identifies and/or presents as two genders—for example, a person’s gender may encompass both male and female identities, or exist as a combination of both. Bigender people may possess two non-binary gender identities.
Binarist – A system of prejudicial beliefs that seek to undermine, erase, and/or invalidate non-binary people, sometimes with the assumption that they need to “pick” a binary gender, are following a fad, or are confused about the nature of their true gender. Karen was being really binarist when she refused to respect her non-binary co-worker’s gender-neutral pronouns, rudely telling them to “choose one or the other.”
Binary – Refers to two concepts or constructs that are seen as diametrically opposed and mutually exclusive from one another. Among transgender communities, the term may refer to the gender binary (see: biological essentialism) or a transgender person who transitions from one binary gender to the other. Hunter is a binary transgender man: although assigned female at birth, he identifies exclusively as male.
Binding – The process of flattening or reshaping one’s chest with constricting material to create a more traditionally masculine or androgynous appearance (PFLAG, 2019). Some methods of binding, including the use of duct tape or Ace bandages, may pose long-term health risks, including muscle tears, lung damage, and/or rib bruising. Medical-grade binders are made with stretchier, more breathable material, offering some transgender people a lower-risk way to bind. Some transgender people have created community organizations designed to send other trans people safe, medical-grade binders for free, preventing some of the health problems associated with binding.
Biological Essentialism – The notion that men and women are naturally and categorically different from one another due to chromosomal, anatomical, endocrinological, and/or neurological variations related to birth assignment. Biological essentialism reinforces the idea that only two sexes and genders exist, defined by a person’s primary and secondary sex characteristics rather than their internal, personal experience of gender (see: gender binary, neurosexism).
Bisexual – A person who is sexually and/or romantically attracted to two or more genders (not necessarily men and women). Bisexual people may feel equal levels of attraction to both (or more) genders, or tend to experience attraction to one gender more frequently than the other—however, a person’s gender often factors into their attraction. More recently, the term has been used to describe a level of sexual fluidity in which a person’s attractions may move in one or more directions along a spectrum of sexuality.
Bodily Autonomy – An ideology that supports a person’s fundamental right to self-governance over their body without external influence or coercion. The concept of bodily autonomy (or bodily integrity) is applicable to a wide range of scenarios, including the freedom to choose one’s own family planning options, consensual sexual partners (regardless of gender), and medical treatment. The phrase “my body, my choice” is a feminist slogan that reflects one of the fundamental principles of bodily autonomy.
Bottom Surgery – A slang term primarily used among transgender people to describe any number of surgical procedures related to the removal and/or reconstruction of a person’s genitalia. Examples include vaginoplasty, phalloplasty, hysterectomy, penectomy, oophorectomy, and many others (see: gender-affirming surgery).
Breast Augmentation – A surgical procedure intended to increase the size and/or change the shape of a person’s breasts (informally known as a “boob job”; may also be considered a type of top surgery).
Breast Forms – Prosthetic breasts formed from silicone (or similar material) that are worn either inside of a bra or attached to the body, meant to simulate the weight, size, and shape of breast tissue. May be informally referred to as “falsies.”
Butch – A form of gender expression characterized by stereotypically masculine behaviors and appearances, sometimes used to describe lesbian women but applicable to people of varying genders and sexual orientations. The designation is historically associated with working-class, traditional masculinity (Trans Language Primer, 2019), and in the 1980s was reestablished as a sexually empowering term within the LGBTQ+ community.
Chondrolaryngoplasty – Surgical reduction of the thyroid cartilage (Adam’s apple), also known as a “tracheal shave.”
Cisgender – An individual whose gender identity matches their birth assignment. Chad is cisgender—he identifies as male and was assigned male at birth.
Cisgender Privilege – A set of legal standards, social norms, institutions, and other contributing factors granting cisgender people superior civil protections, rights, and freedoms compared to their transgender counterparts. Cisgender privilege results from the belief that cisgender people are superior to transgender individuals and resultingly some transgender individuals consider cisgender privilege a form of transphobia. During the first few months of her transition, Tiana found herself feeling jealous of her cisgender co-workers who were able to use the women’s restroom without fear of being attacked—they acted as if they weren’t even aware of their cisgender privilege.
Cishet – A slang term used mostly within the transgender community to describe cisgender heterosexual individuals. Maya was irritated when she noticed the cishet neighbors handing out invitations to their unborn child’s gender-reveal party.
Cisnormativity – Adherence to the conventions of the gender binary, which may include conforming to traditional gender roles, gender presentations, and expectations based on one’s birth assignment. Cisnormativity originates from the presumption that cisgender identities, gender expressions, and lived experiences are more natural, valid, and normal than those of transgender individuals.
Cissexism – The idea that cisgender people are more natural, valid, and “normal” than their transgender counterparts, resulting in social norms, laws, and individual behaviors that reinforce the gender binary and consequently marginalize, oppress, and/or erase the existence of transgender people (see: cisnormativity). Cissexism is based on the presumption that one’s assigned sex and gender are inherently aligned with their gender identity.
Clocked – Slang term for when a transgender person’s birth assignment, and thus their transgender identity, is recognized by an outside observer, potentially posing a threat to the transgender individual’s safety. Jasmine worried about being clocked as trans whenever she used a public restroom.
Closeted – An individual who has not disclosed their sexual orientation or gender identity to others, sometimes for safety purposes. Because of their unaccepting family members, Dylan decided to remain closeted about their gender identity until they moved out of their mother’s house.
Coming Out – The act of accepting and/or disclosing one’s true gender identity or sexual orientation to others, which can occur during any phase of life. In the former scenario, social, legal, and/or physical transition may accompany coming out. Coming out as non-binary was liberating for Dex, but it also made them worry about transphobic backlash from family members and co-workers.
Conversion Therapy – The practice of attempting to permanently “cure,” or eradicate, same-gender attraction and/or gender variance, often through the use of coercive methods. Historically, queer identities have been referred to as “unnatural” or a “disorder.” As a result, people who do not as heterosexual and/or cisgender are oftentimes instated into conversion therapy to “cure” people of their “illness.” This abusive “therapeutic method” causes a lot of psychological distress among the LGBTQ+ community. In more recent years, conversion therapy has been regarded as a pseudoscience with no psychological benefits. Furthermore, conversion therapy has been recognized to have long-term psychological and social trauma. Therefore, there has been a push to ban conversion therapy in some parts of North America.
Crossdresser – An individual who wears clothing, jewelry, and/or makeup not traditionally associated with their assigned gender for the sake of self-expression, recreation, performance (see: drag), and/or erotic enjoyment (LGBT Health Education Center, 2019).
Deadname – An informal term used by some transgender people to refer to their birth name, or the name they used before socially transitioning. Ashton refused to disclose his deadname to anyone but his partner, who understood the distress it had caused him as an adolescent.
Demiboy – A person whose gender identity is partially male, and may consist of another non-binary gender identity.
Demigirl – A person whose gender identity is partially female, and may consist of another non-binary gender identity.
Demisexual – A person who is sexually attracted to people based on emotional connection rather than physical appearance. Demisexual individuals may experience a stronger sexual attraction as they become more emotionally connected with their partner(s).
Detransition – To stop, pause, or reverse some or all of the effects of transitioning, including social, legal, and medical transition (Wilson, 2014).
DFAB – Designated Female at Birth (also known as AFAB, or Assigned Female at Birth). Refers to people assigned female based on external primary sex characteristics.
DMAB – Designated Male at Birth (also known as AMAB, or Assigned Male at Birth). Refers to people assigned male based on external primary sex characteristics.
Drag King – A person who wears extravagant, stereotypically masculine clothing and/or prosthetics for the sake of performance, self-expression and/or entertainment. Tristan is non-binary, but sometimes they perform as a drag king to express their masculinity while simultaneously mocking traditional gender roles.
Drag Queen – A person who wears extravagant stereotypically feminine clothing and/or prosthetics for the sake of performance, self-expression and/or entertainment.
DSM-5 – An acronym for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a publication that provides a comprehensive list of official psychiatric diagnoses and their criteria. The DSM-5 uses the term “gender dysphoria” to refer to diagnosed transgender people reporting a sense of social and/or physical dissonance between their assigned gender and their personal experience of gender. Transgender people who do not meet minimum DSM-5 diagnostic criteria may face additional difficulties navigating the medical system should they decide to undergo social, legal and/or medical transition (see: gatekeeping, gender therapist).
Dyadic – A person who is not intersex—i.e. does not possess variations of sex characteristics involving chromosomes, the reproductive system, and other aspects of one’s physiology. Dyadic people make up a majority of the global population, but non-dyadic people also exist in large numbers throughout the world.
Electrolysis – The process of permanently removing facial or body hair.
Enby – Colloquial term for a non-binary person (phoneticization of the letters N and B).
Endocrinologist – A medical professional who specializes in the endocrine system and its secretions (hormones). Some transgender people who undergo medical transition may see an endocrinologist in order to access or adjust hormone replacement therapy.
Erasure – Deliberate or accidental lack of representation of a marginalized group in media, history, or academic research. Some accused the historian of transgender erasure when he neglected to recognize Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson’s contributions to early LGBTQ activism.
Estradiol – An estrogenic steroid hormone that causes the development of secondary sex characteristics including breast development, increased pubic hair growth, and changes in fat distribution. When prescribed as medication, estradiol can be taken orally, transdermally (through the skin), or by injection into muscle or fat tissue.
Estrogen – A type of hormone responsible for the development of secondary sex characteristics, including breast development, increased pubic hair growth, and changes in fat distribution. In some people, estrogen may cause diminished muscle tissue, reduction of erectile response, and enlargement of the areolas. Estrogen does not cause the reduction or elimination of existing body and facial hair, and nor does it cause thinning of vocal cords.
Facial Feminization Surgery – A surgical procedure intended to create more conventionally feminine facial features; may involve altering a person’s hairline, forehead, and/or nose, as well as shaving the Adam’s apple (see: chondrolaryngoplasty).
FTM – Abbreviation standing for “Female to Male” describing an individual assigned female at birth whose gender identity is male or transmasculine. The term is sometimes used to describe binary transgender men.
Full-time – A transgender person who lives and presents full time as their true gender. Living full-time is being authentic in expressing oneself; the method by which one goes about living full time is typically circumstantial and based on personal preferences. Note that not all transgender people possess the resources to guarantee their physical safety should they present full-time as their true gender, and some may be forced to detransition and/or remain closeted in some or all aspects of their everyday lives. After going on HRT for several months, Rachel felt confident presenting full-time as her true gender.
Gatekeeping – Systemic barriers controlling transgender people’s access to social, legal, and medical transition, such as:
– A gender therapist is required to certify the legitimacy of a person’s transgender identity before the individual is permitted to pursue aspects of social, legal, and/or medical transition. Physicians are required to follow the guidelines outlined in the WPATH’s standards of care.
– Legal jurisdictions require a transgender individual to be diagnosed with gender dysphoria before they can change their name and/or gender marker.
– Social transitioning requires real-life experience for at least one year to access surgeries and in some instances access to hormones.
– Medical transitioning requires certain psychological evaluations to be passed in order to be considered “stable enough” to access gender-affirming surgeries. Otherwise, transgender individuals who do not meet the diagnostic criteria for “gender dysphoria” may experience major barriers to accessing services should they desire to medically transition.
Gaff – A fabric or material designed to tuck one’s genitals against their body, creating a flatter and less conspicuous appearance. Some transfeminine and/or non-binary individuals may wear a gaff to order to allow them to fit into tighter, more form-fitting clothing (see: tucking).
Gay – Describes people who are sexually and romantically attracted to people of the same gender. The term is sometimes used to refer specifically to men (transgender or otherwise) who are romantically and sexually attracted to other men. “Gay” has replaced the outdated and clinical term “homosexual” as the preferred label for sexual and romantic same-gender attraction.
Gender Affirming Surgery – Any one of a number of surgical procedures intended to alleviate the dissonance between a person’s body and their gender identity. Colloquially, gender-affirming surgery may be referred to as “bottom” or “top” surgery, with bottom surgery pertaining to removal and/or reconstruction of a person’s primary sex characteristics and/or external genitalia, and “top surgery” consisting of removal, reconstruction, or augmentation of the breast tissue. Not all transgender people elect to have surgery as part of their medical transition, and some transgender people choose not to medically transition at all.
Gender Binary – The classification of gender into two distinct, opposite categories of male and female based on a person’s physical anatomy. In colonized western societies, gender is seen as naturally and inherently aligned with primary sex characteristics—i.e. biologically determined and immutable. Those who subscribe to the notion of binary genders tend to view gender as rigid and uncompromising, with little tolerance for variations that fall in between or outside of the male-female dichotomy. Many people do not realize that the gender binary does not exist in a number of present-day societies.
Gender Congruence – The state of feeling aligned and/or comfortable with the relationship between one’s gender identity and their body, gender expression, and/or gender role. Christian felt a greater sense of gender congruence when binding and wearing loose-fitting clothing, as doing so allowed their gender expression to align more closely with their transmasculine identity.
Gender Dissonance – The emotional distress associated with the cognitive dissonance between an individual’s assigned sex, body, and/or social experiences, and their internal, personal experience of gender. May be used as a less clinical and/or pathologizing term for “gender dysphoria” (see: gender dysphoria, DSM-5).
Gender Dysphoria – A clinical term used to describe the psychological distress resulting from the dissonance between a transgender person’s assigned sex, body, and/or social experiences and their internal experience of gender. The phrase may refer to DSM-5 criteria for medical diagnosis (see: DSM-5, gatekeeping). It is important to note that not all transgender people suffer from gender dysphoria and that experiencing gender dysphoria is not a prerequisite for being transgender. Furthermore, gender dysphoria is not merely disliking one’s body. Rather, gender dysphoria is the psychological distress that their bodies experience due to their bodies not aligning with their gender (Kennedy, 2015, p. 201).
Gender-Expansive – A gender identity, presentation and/or expression that transcends commonly held notions of gender within a given society (see: gender binary).
Gender Expression – The external manifestation of a person’s gender identity, which may or may not conform to gender stereotypes and may be expressed through clothing, appearance, behavior, and/or prosthetics. Jaime’s gender expression was traditionally feminine; they liked to wear dresses, high heels, and make-up.
Genderfluid – A state of fluctuating, or shifting, between various genders, depending on a person’s internal state. Genderfluid individuals may or may not change their gender expression, pronouns, and/or name due to shifts in their gender identity. Genderfluid individuals’ expression of their identities may be context-sensitive and/or based on preferences/feelings.
Gender Identity – An individual’s innate, internal conception of being male, female, both, neither, or any combination thereof, which may or may not correspond to the person’s external anatomy or assigned sex at birth (LGBT Health Education Center, 2019). Transgender people have a gender identity that is different than the one assigned to them at birth.
Gender Incongruence – Gender incongruence is another diagnosis to refer to individuals who struggle with their gender identity. This diagnosis is used in the ICD-11 (for more info see ICD-11) as someone who experiences a disconnection between one’s gender identity and body.
Gender Marker – An abbreviation (usually M or F) denoting a person’s gender on legal documents and government-issued identification forms. Gender markers can be changed from one binary gender to the other (Wilson, 2014), although some United States jurisdictions allow non-binary gender markers on IDs and driver’s licenses, represented by the letter “X.” Changing a gender marker on an individual’s driver’s license, ID, birth certificate, or passport may require different processes specific to state, county, or city regulations.
Gender Neutral – A term used to denote all-gender-inclusive spaces, language, concepts, items, and more (for instance, gender-neutral clothing, gender-neutral language, gender-neutral bathrooms). The newborn’s parents decided to give their baby a gender-neutral name so as to discourage traditional, gender-based expectations about how they might identify as they grew up.
Gender Norm – An arbitrary social standard or expectation based on an individual’s perceived gender (Wilson, 2014). Gender norms are rarely static and often vary significantly over time and between cultures. In the early 1900s, some gender norms were vastly different than the ones we observe today—for example, in the United States, male-assigned babies commonly wore pink clothing, while female-assigned babies wore blue.
Gender Presentation – A set of external gender-related cues (i.e. clothing, gender expression, name) intended to communicate the manner in which a person wants their gender to be perceived by others. Gender presentation may be masculine, feminine, androgynous, gender-neutral, etc.
Genderqueer – An umbrella term for non-binary gender identities (Wilson, 2014); a gender identity that does not adhere to conventional and/or binary conceptions of gender.
Gender Spectrum – The full range of all possible genders (Wilson, 2014).
Gender Therapist – A colloquial term for a licensed counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist who fits the criteria as defined by WPATH Standards of Care to provide transition-related treatment for transgender people. Gender therapists should possess the advanced knowledge and expertise necessary to offer competent mental health care to trans people, which is not always the case (see: gatekeeping).
Gray Asexuality or Gray Ace – An umbrella term generally referring to the gray area, or middle, of the spectrum between sexuality and asexuality. People who identify themselves as gray ace may tend to lean more toward the “asexual” side of the spectrum, where they may experience sexual attraction only on occasion (Bogaert, 2015).
Hard Packing – The act of wearing a prosthetic phallus that is erect and may be used for sexual penetration (Wilson, 2014).
Harm Reduction – A range of public health policies that emphasize education and prevention rather than pathologizing, criminalizing, and/or punishing potentially unsafe activities, both legal and illicit. The harm reduction model allows an individual to determine whether they want to stop or change a behavior, and may be applied to a variety of scenarios including (but not limited to) recreational drug use, self-injury, and sexual activity. In the latter example, a harm reduction approach may consist of sex education (as opposed to abstinence-only education), pre- and post-HIV exposure prophylaxis, and/or condom distribution to at-risk populations.
Harness – A device used to hold a prosthetic penis (or packer) in place either during casual use or while partaking in sexual activities.
Heteronormativity – Sometimes used as slang within the LGBTQ+ community to refer to people who view humanity/society as all heterosexual/cisgender; The perspective that only being heterosexual/cisgender is “normal” disregards the experiences of people who do not identify as heterosexual/cisgender.
Heterosexism – Deliberate and/or unconscious acts of prejudice or discrimination against those who are not heterosexual, including gender-based, blanket assumptions and/or generalizations regarding a person’s sexual orientation. Presuming that all men experience sexual attraction to women, for instance, is an example of heterosexism.
Hormone Blockers – A group of medications that suppress the actions of a person’s endogenous hormones (see: spironolactone). Some transgender people may take hormone blockers as part of their medical transition (see: hormone replacement therapy).
Hormone Replacement Therapy – Some transgender people choose to undergo hormone replacement therapy (abbreviated HRT) to assume the secondary sex characteristics associated with a different gender. Hormone replacement therapy may consist of:
– androgen blockers and/or estrogen, such as estradiol, which may be taken orally or by injection (see: estrogen). Some people may opt to take progesterone in conjunction with estradiol.
– administering testosterone via injection, topical gels/creams, and/or subcutaneous (beneath the skin) implants (see: testosterone).
Note that not all transgender people wish to undergo hormone replacement therapy and that some may be physically unable to do so on account of preexisting medical conditions. Furthermore, HRT is often cost-prohibitive for people who lack health insurance or access to a trans-competent medical practitioner. A person’s willingness or ability to undergo HRT does not reflect the validity of their gender identity.
ICD-11 – A guideline for global statistics and health tendencies considered to be the world standard for identifying health conditions and diseases. The ICD-11 is used to determine diagnostic classifications for academic, clinical, and research purposes.
Identity Policing – Any statement or action that dictates how one should identify, express, or present their gender. Identity policing may come from cisgender people who seek to punish or “correct” a person’s gender-variant identity or expression, but may also be observed among some transgender people who believe other transgender individuals should conform to the gender binary. Telling a transgender woman to “dress more feminine” is a form of identity policing, as it suggests that women must adhere to standards of conventional femininity in order for their womanhood to be respected.
Informed Consent – A model of medical care requiring physicians to disclose complete and accurate information regarding the known risks of pharmaceutical drugs, medical procedures, and tests before administering them to patients (Shuster, 2019). The practice is intended to empower individuals with the information necessary to make evidence-based decisions regarding their medical care.
Intergender – An intersex (non-dyadic) person whose gender identity and/or expression falls somewhere between masculinity and femininity, including entirely outside of the gender binary.
Internalized Transphobia – Any number of negative self-beliefs stemming from negative convictions regarding one’s transgender identity. Internalized transphobia may exist among cisgender individuals who believe that they are affirming of transgender people but nonetheless harbor unconscious biases. For a long time, Alden struggled with internalized transphobia, believing he was less worthy of intimate relationships than his cisgender peers.
Intersectionality – A theoretical framework for understanding the relationship between a person’s social and political identities and the unique privileges and/or disadvantages they might face within a given society. Intersectional theory acknowledges the interconnected nature of various systems of oppression, creating context-specific incidents of discrimination. For example, a Black woman might experience oppression from white male co-workers due to the combination of being both Black and female.
Intersex – An umbrella term for a wide spectrum of natural variations in sex characteristics involving chromosomal, hormonal, endocrinological, and/or anatomical configurations that do not appear to fit the standard definitions of female and male (Serano, 2018). Shawn has XXY chromosomes, a relatively common intersex variation.
Labiaplasty – A form of bottom surgery typically performed following a vaginoplasty, intended to enhance some characteristics of the labia minora and/or major.
Latinx – A gender-neutral term referring to Latin-American individuals.
Legal Transition – Refers to one or several processes related to changing one’s name and gender marker on government-issued documents, such as driver’s licenses, birth certificates, and passports. Part of Larry’s legal transition involved applying for a court-ordered name change; now the name on his driver’s license accurately reflects his identity.
Lesbian – A woman who is sexually and romantically attracted to women, including transgender women.
Mastectomy – The surgical removal of breast tissue.
Metoidioplasty – A surgical procedure (or number of surgical procedures) pursued by some transgender people with clitorises intended to create a new penis, known as a “neophallus,” out of preexisting genital tissue. Typically, the clitoris is cut and released from the surrounding tissue, increasing length and exposure without altering the urethra or vagina. Some metoidioplasty procedures may use skin grafts to link the urethra with the neophallus (Healthline, 2019).
Microaggression – A brief, subtle statement, action, or behavior that reflects and reinforces prejudicial, insulting, and dehumanizing ideas regarding marginalized groups of people. The question “have you lost weight?” may be considered a microaggression, as it implies that the speaker believes the person they’re addressing was formerly overweight.
Microdosing – A method of hormone replacement therapy that consists of taking low or reduced doses of exogenous hormones, such as estradiol or testosterone, either over a specified period of time or indefinitely (see: hormone replacement therapy). Jackson feels the most comfortable taking smaller doses of testosterone to facilitate their transition, so they’ve been microdosing for the past year.
Misgendering – Deliberately or unintentionally addressing someone, typically a transgender person, with pronouns, phrases, names, or references that do not align with the person’s gender identity. Purposeful misgendering is considered degrading and transphobic and may pose a threat to a transgender person’s safety. Zoe dreaded visiting their extended family members, who often misgendered them by calling them by their birth name.
Monosexual – A person who experiences sexual attraction only to people of a specific gender (Serano, 2018). Cali is monosexual—they are strictly sexually attracted to men.
Multigender – A person who identifies as more than one binary and/or non-binary gender (Wilson, 2014).
Mx. – A gender-neutral honorific, analogous to Ms. or Mr. (Wilson, 2014).
Neurosexism – The misuse of neuroscientific facts to support the notion that women and men are “categorically different by virtue of brain anatomy and neurological functioning” (Dussauge and Kaiser, 2012). Common examples include the traditionalist assertion that cisgender men are neurologically predisposed to have superior spatial reasoning to cisgender women, or that cisgender women are naturally inclined to be more “verbal,” or linguistically oriented, than cisgender men. (Also see: biological essentialism, gender binary.)
Non-binary – An umbrella term used to describe someone whose gender identity falls outside of the traditional western binary; a gender identity that cannot be classified as exclusively male or female. Payton is non-binary—their gender identity fluctuates between male and female, and sometimes they feel they don’t have a gender identity at all.
Non-op – A transgender individual who chooses not to undergo gender reassignment surgery (Wilson, 2014). Vanessa is non-op, but her lack of interest in gender-affirming surgery does not at all invalidate her transgender identity.
Oophorectomy – Surgical removal of the ovaries.
Orchiectomy – Surgical removal of the testes (sometimes casually abbreviated as “an orchi”).
Outing – The act of disclosing someone’s gender identity or sexual orientation without their consent. Abby never discussed her sexual orientation at work out of fear that one of her co-workers would out her to her boss.
Ovo-Testes – Genitals that contain elements of both testes and ovaries; may appear in a variety of configurations.
Packer– A prosthetic phallus or phallic object used for packing, which may take the form of a penis shape or include a scrotum and testicles in addition to the phallus (see: packing). Packers range from low-tech, improvised pieces such as rolled-up socks or gel-filled condoms to high-quality devices that closely resemble dyadic male-assigned genitalia.
Packing – The process of wearing padding or a phallic object in the front of a person’s pants or underwear to create the appearance of genitals and may be used by transmasculine, non-binary, and/or other transgender individuals as well as drag king performers (Susan’s Place, 2019).
Panromantic – A person who experiences romantic, but not necessarily sexual, attraction to people of all genders (Healthline, 2019). Sam is panromantic—over the years, they have developed amorous feelings for various people all along the gender spectrum.
Pansexual – An individual who is sexually attracted to people of all genders and/or gender presentations.
Passing – To be perceived by others as one’s true gender. When Cameron began growing a beard, he found that he passed as male to strangers, who frequently referred to him using he/him pronouns.
Pathologize – To regard or view someone (or something) as medically and/or psychologically unhealthy and/or abnormal. Some medical models pathologize substance use as deviant and criminal, rather than viewing the behavior as an understandable response to trauma.
Patriarchy – A western social and cultural system of institutionalized power structures that uphold and reinforce the social dominance of white heterosexual, cisgender men, but oppress, dominate, and exploit women and gender minorities. Within patriarchal societies, cisgender men typically control most wealth and private property, as well as predominate in roles conferring citizens with significant political and/or moral authority. The gender binary—based on biological essentialism—is often used to justify this power imbalance, and consequently creates conditions for misogyny, transphobia, and transmisogyny to flourish.
Peer Support – A model of care and/or recovery consisting of people who provide knowledge, experience, emotional, social, or practical help to one another, sometimes in contexts outside of traditional mental health care settings (Mead, 2006).
Pegging – The act of using a strap-on phallic device for anal penetration (see: hard packing).
Penectomy – Surgical removal of the penis, sometimes performed during the process of creating a vagina.
Penile Preservation Vaginoplasty – A surgical procedure performed to preserve one’s current genitalia while creating a new vaginal opening. Penile preservation vaginoplasty is sometimes pursued by individuals who do not fit within the gender binary and/or people who feel more comfortable possessing both male and female-assigned genitalia.
Phalloplasty – A surgical procedure typically performed to change the appearance of a clitoris into those of dyadic, male-assigned genitalia; may require numerous surgeries depending on methodology.
Polygender – A person who possesses multiple (typically more than three) gender identities.
Post-op – A transgender person who has undergone one or multiple gender-affirming surgeries.
Progesterone – A hormone taken by some transgender individuals to enhance dyadic feminine characteristics such as larger hips, rounder chest, and generally “curvier” appearance. May also be taken to increase libido.
Pre-op – A transgender individual who intends to undergo one or more gender-affirming surgeries, but has not yet completed the process.
Primary Sex Characteristics – A number of physiological features present prior to puberty and directly related to reproduction, including the testes, ovaries, and external genitalia.
Pronouns – Grammatical terms used to reference a person in place of a proper noun, often connected to gender (Wilson, 2014). “He,” “she,” “they,” “ze,” etc. are all examples of pronouns. Sidney’s pronouns are she/her, but she occasionally goes by they/them pronouns as well.
Pumping – A colloquial term used by some transgender people to describe the act of injecting silicone into one’s body, sometimes to create a more stereotypically dyadic feminine appearance (see: silicone injection surgery). This word is sometimes also used to refer to the process by which people with phalloplasties make their penis erect.
QPOC – An acronym standing for “Queer People of Color.” An alternative to this term is QBIPOC, which emphasizes Black and Indigenous people.
QTPOC – An acronym standing for “Queer and/or Trans People of Color.” An alternative to this is QTBIPOC, which emphasizes Black and Indigenous people.
Queer – A gender identity or sexual orientation that deviates from cisgender, heterosexual identities, norms, or practices (Wilson, 2014). In some contexts, “queer” may be used as a pejorative term; on the other hand, some LGBTQ+ people have reclaimed the title as an empowering description of their gender identity and/or sexual orientation.
Questioning – The process of exploring and/or identifying an individual’s gender identity or sexual orientation. Kayla began questioning her gender identity as a teenager when she found that wearing conventionally feminine clothing made her feel more comfortable and confident in her body.
Racism – Any behavior, action, or belief system that intentionally or unintentionally degrades, victimizes, dehumanizes, and/or harms an individual of a marginalized racial group, including the false belief that a person’s temperament, intellectual abilities, talents, etc. are dependent on their race. Racism may consist of overt actions, statements, and/or institutional practices; it may also involve unconscious biases against people of marginalized races.
Radfem – Slang term for TERF, or trans-exclusionary radical feminist (see: TERF).
Read – Refers to someone observing an individual’s appearance to determine one’s gender identity. Reading may be considered invasive (see: clocking).
Real-Life Experience – A form of medical gatekeeping that requires transgender individuals to present full time as their true gender for a designated amount of time before receiving a clinical diagnosis of gender dysphoria or pursuing medical transition (see: gatekeeping, DSM-5). When Dawn transitioned twenty-five years ago, her therapist asked her to present for a full year as her actual gender in order to attain “real-life experience” before permitting her to start hormone replacement therapy.
Retrospective Misgendering/Deadnaming – The act of misgendering and/or deadnaming a transgender person when referencing their pre-transition identity. Cayden’s mother claimed to be supportive of her transgender son but often engaged in retrospective misgendering when she used the wrong pronouns to tell stories from Cayden’s childhood.
Safe Space – A confidential, non-judgmental, affirming group or organization of people who ensure that social consent and boundaries are respected. The intention of a safe space is for people within the LGBTQ+ community to feel heard, understood, and affirmed.
Same-Gender-Loving – A term primarily used by Black/African-American/people of African descent to describe same-gender sexual orientations, attractions, or relationships.
Scrotoplasty – A medical procedure intended to change the appearance of genital tissue into a scrotum and testicles, sometimes during the process of creating a penis (see: phalloplasty).
Secondary Sex Characteristics – Various physiological features that appear in dyadic and some non-dyadic people during puberty (or as a result of hormone replacement therapy) but lack a direct reproductive function, including the development of breasts and facial hair, muscularity, distribution of fat tissue, growth of pubic hair, and change in voice pitch.
Second Puberty – Used as an informal/slang term in some communities of transgender people to describe the experience of undergoing hormone replacement therapy, especially during its initial phases. Note that not all transgender people who opt for HRT experience a second puberty, as some begin taking hormone blockers during adolescence. When Stephanie started taking estrogen at age thirty, she joked that the new hormones made her feel like she was undergoing a second puberty.
Sex – A term referring to one’s chromosomal makeup. Some people informally refer to sex as a reflection of one’s genitals, but this can be seen as derogatory. Some older individuals use the term sex interchangeably for gender often due to being uninformed of modern gender terminology; In more recent times gender and sex are not considered synonymous.
Sexual Orientation – A person’s physical, romantic, emotional, and/or spiritual attraction towards another person. Sexual orientation is unique to each individual as their expressions and preferences are subjective by nature.
Silicone Injection Surgery – A procedure by which substances (typically but not necessarily silicone) are injected into an individual’s body with the purpose of re-shaping certain aspects of its structure. Silicone injection surgeries may be performed for a variety of reasons, on people of various identities—for instance, some transmasculine people may use silicone to achieve more defined pectorals, while some transfeminine people may opt for injection surgery to enhance the shape of their breasts and/or hips. In some cases, these procedures are performed as low-cost alternatives to plastic surgery; however, numerous health risks are associated with the practice.
Social Construct – The conceptualization or interpretation of an idea based on a collective perspective established within a group of people or society, which may or may not reflect objective reality (Oxford, 2020). The idea of the gender binary is a social construct since different gender configurations exist in various societies throughout the world.
Social Transition – The act or process of changing one’s name, gender marker, pronouns, and/or gender presentation to more accurately reflect their true gender. Ty’s social transition began when they came out as non-binary and subsequently asked their friends to start referring to them by their new name.
Spironolactone – A diuretic steroid with antiandrogenic properties used to suppress the effects of endogenous testosterone in people undergoing hormone replacement therapy. Spironolactone (referred to as “spiro” by some transgender people) is sometimes taken in conjunction with other hormones, such as estradiol. Kara started her medical transition by taking spironolactone, an androgen blocker.
Standards of Care – A set of guidelines and procedures established by a healthcare institution, ostensibly to maintain quality assurance as well as establish a degree of legal protection for both clients and physicians. Some of these guidelines, however, may present barriers to accessing medical transition (see: gatekeeping).
Stealth – The act of living full-time as one’s true gender without revealing one’s transgender status to others, sometimes for safety purposes. Jordan was stealth at work because disclosing his transgender status might have provoked hostility from bigoted co-workers.
STP – Acronym meaning “Stand to Pee.” A device that allows urination from a standing-up position. Some packers may also function as STP devices (see: packing, packers).
Street Hormones – Hormones procured from unlicensed parties and administered without oversight by a medical professional (“from the street”). While specific reasons vary from person to person, some people may use street hormones to circumvent economic and/or social barriers such as gatekeeping or lack of health insurance, which may prevent the acquisition of HRT through a licensed doctor. Note that self-administering street hormones may pose potential health risks. Allen couldn’t afford the out-of-pocket payments for his testosterone, so he briefly considered buying street hormones from an Internet vendor at a cheaper price.
TERF – Acronym for “transgender-exclusionary radical feminist.” TERFs deny the existence of gender identity and subscribe to the unsubstantiated notion that transgender women are co-opting or appropriating womanhood in order to gain access to cisgender women’s spaces.
Testosterone – A hormone responsible for the development of secondary sex characteristics, typically including the growth of body and/or facial hair, increased muscularity, fat redistribution, and thickening of the vocal cords. Testosterone may cause clitoral growth and the reduction or cessation of menses in some individuals.
Third Gender – A category of individuals who do not necessarily identify as masculine or feminine, and may possess a gender identity that exists outside of the gender binary. The concept of a “third gender” (also referred to as “third sex”) is present in non-western societies that have traditionally acknowledged the existence of three or more genders. Specific third gender identities and modes of gender expression vary widely depending on a person’s society, culture, and personal identity.
Top Surgery – A slang term used to describe surgical procedures intended to remove, enhance, and/or alter breast tissue. Types of top surgery include breast augmentation procedures, double mastectomy surgery, keyhole surgery, and many others. Binary, as well as non-binary trans people, may pursue various forms of top surgery, depending on their personal needs.
Trans Chaser – A person who seeks sexual relationships with trans people, sometimes exclusively, for the sake of fetish fulfillment. Some chasers may develop patterns of stalking, pursuing, or sexually harassing transgender individuals. Mariah suspected that the guy she met on Tinder was a chaser, as he had been known to date and fetishize transgender women and treated his partners disrespectfully.
Transition – The process of undergoing social, legal, and/or medical transition from one’s birth-assigned gender to another. For instance, a person assigned male at birth might possess a female gender identity, and therefore change her birth name and pronouns, as well as the gender marker on her government-issued documents. Transitioning is a personal process unique to the individual—a journey in which one makes decisions to become more like their true selves. When she was twenty, Camila came out as transgender and began transitioning by using feminine pronouns and legally changing her name.
Trans-antagonism – A broad range of hostile acts intended to invalidate, intimidate, and/or provoke transgender people, including but not limited to the use of slurs, anti-trans jokes, and cissexist and/or transmisogynistic statements.
Transgender – An umbrella term describing individuals whose gender identity differs from the one assigned to them at birth. The transgender population is comprised of diverse people and is found in numerous nations throughout the world. Since gender identity and sexual orientation are separate concepts, transgender people can be heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, sexually fluid, or various other orientations.
Transmasculine – An individual whose gender identity and/or expression leans toward the masculine side of the gender spectrum.
Transmisogyny – Anti-transgender bigotry—including individual and state-sanctioned acts of violence—directed specifically at transgender women, transfeminine people, and/or gender non-conforming people whose gender expression and/or identity falls on the feminine end of the gender spectrum. While many transgender people will likely experience transphobia at some point in their lives, not all will necessarily confront transmisogyny, a particular kind of marginalization that targets people based on being both female and transgender.
Transphobia – Prejudice against or disapproval of transgender individuals, ranging from acts of physical violence to subtle microaggressions. Transphobia may originate from misinformation, personal biases, propaganda, and some religious denominations. Transphobia can also be internalized in which an individual struggles with being transgender (see: internalized transphobia). Jennifer wanted to join the online support group, but she noticed a lot of transphobia among some of the members, who made derisive comments about gender non-conforming people.
Transsexual – An older term used to refer primarily to binary transgender people, typically those who intended to or had successfully undergone some degree of hormone replacement therapy and/or gender-affirming surgery. Some individuals consider this term derogatory, as it was historically used to refer to someone based on their gender assigned at birth—for example, clinicians originally described transgender women as “male transsexuals” during the 1960s (Benjamin, 1966).
Trauma-Informed – A treatment framework that acknowledges the long-term effect of trauma on human behavior and development, viewing a person’s coping mechanisms as rational responses to adverse situations rather than pathological acts of deviance requiring corrective intervention. Trauma-informed care may consist of:
– Treatment plans that approach people who have experienced trauma with empathy and support rather than judgment
– Policies and treatment emphasizing harm reduction, empowerment, safety, and peer support
– Initiatives that actively avoid re-traumatizing people
Truscum – A belief system, arguably based on the western construction of the gender binary, that transgender people must experience a certain set of conditions—including gender dysphoria and a desire to medically transition—in order to legitimately “qualify” as transgender. While such attitudes may be prevalent among cisgender people, “truscum” is a slang term used primarily within transgender communities to denote other trans people who subscribe to this idea. Gary used to be truscum—he once believed that people who didn’t want gender-affirming surgery weren’t truly transgender.
Tucking – The act of concealing the penis and testicles by tucking them between the legs, sometimes using tape or constrictive garments such as a gaff (Wilson, 2014).
Two-Spirit – A modern, pan-Native American term used by some Indigenous communities in the United States to describe queer and/or gender non-conforming people, replacing the inaccurate and often degrading phraseology imposed on gender-variant Indigenous peoples by white colonizers. Note that the term is not synonymous with western concepts like “transgender” or “queer”—it can mean many things depending on an individual’s culture or personal identity.
Vaginal Preservation Phalloplasty – A surgical procedure in which an individual with a vagina would potentially keep their vaginal opening while creating a phallus. This procedure is typically pursued by individuals who do not fit gender stereotypes or simply desire to keep their vagina while having a phallus.
Vaginoplasty – A surgical procedure intended to surgically construct a vagina. Vaginoplasty is typically performed as a single surgical technique, but some may seek follow-up surgeries—such as labiaplasty—to enhance certain physical characteristics (see: labiaplasty, bottom surgery).
Vocal Therapy or Voice Coaching – A process that an individual may pursue to change their voice to a more masculine, feminine, or androgynous pitch. Some people seek professional assistance to train their voices to match their identified gender. Others will train their voices themselves to match their voice with their identified gender. Some transmasculine individuals who take HRT will not need to seek voice therapy or coaching as testosterone will naturally lower the pitch of their voice. Since their voice caused them a lot of body dysphoria, Oliver decided to try vocal therapy to train themself to speak in a lower pitch.
WPATH – The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) is a non-profit organization intended to establish professional education and health standards for the treatment of transgender individuals. Their intention is to create professionally educated and socially understanding individuals to create a high standard for the quality of care for transgender and non-binary individuals worldwide by creating the standards of care for transgender and nonbinary individuals (wpath.org).
Bogaert, Anthony. “Asexuality: What It Is and Why It Matters.” Journal of Sex Research. 52 (2015): 362-379. 10.1080/00224499.2015.1015713.
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By [email protected]|2021-12-29T15:30:13-08:00April 20th, 2021|Comments Off on Glossary of Terms & Definitions
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