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Start here to learn supportive terminology. You will also find links to more information and resources at the end of the page. 


The following terms are a culmination of the most listed terms in several lists of Transgender Terminology found on the internet. Some of these lists are a little older, which was taken into consideration when listing some more outdated terms. There are more terminology lists that came up when searching, however they were either in alphabetical order, which was not conducive for considering the level of importance by the location in the list. Other lists were focused on the LGBT community as a whole, which is also important, but not the focus for this list. This is why these specific lists were chosen. This is not a comprehensive list and I invite conversation about terms that should be added, changed or removed  * 


Depending on the context, gender may reference gender identity, gender expression, and/or social gender role, including understandings and expectations culturally tied to people who were assigned male or female at birth. Gender identities other than those of men and women (who can be either cisgender or transgender) include transgender, nonbinary, genderqueer, gender neutral, agender, gender fluid, and “third” gender, among others; many other genders are recognized around the world (Coleman et al.).

Sex/Biological Sex/Sex at Birth

A person’s combination of genitals, chromosomes and hormones, usually categorized as “male” or “female” based on visual inspection of genitals via ultrasound or at birth, supported by the assumption that a person’s gender identity will be congruent with their sex assignment. Everyone has a biological sex (Green and Maurer).


A general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn't fit the typical definition of male or female. Intersex people may have variations in sex characteristics including chromosomes, hormones, and/or genitals. Some intersex people identify as trans and/or non-binary (Smith et al.)

Gender Identity

The internal sense of masculinity or femininity that a person experiences. A person’s gender identity may not always match a person’s biological sex or gender assigned at birth. Gender identity is who you are not who you like.


A person whose gender is different from the sex they were assigned at birth   Transgender is also sometimes used as an umbrella term for gender-diverse people. These terms cover a range of gender identities that move past the idea that there are only two gender expressions of male or female. This is not a new concept. As a matter of fact, according to the Human Rights Campaign, the transgender and non-binary community have been around since 5000 BC. Follow this link to learn more about the history of the transgender community.  (Seven things about transgender people that you didn't know


This is sometimes used as an abbreviation for “transgender.” 

Transgender Man/ FtM

People who identify as male, but were assigned female at birth. This is preferred because other language, such as FTM or female-to-male, puts more emphasis on biological sex rather than affirming gender identity. Also sometimes referred to as transmen. (Green and Maurer)

Transgender Woman/MtF

The internal sense of masculinity or femininity that a person experiences. A person’s gender identity may not always match a person’s biological sex or gender assigned at birth. Gender identity is who you are not who you like.


This term is an older term used to refer to a transgender person who has had hormonal or surgical interventions to change their bodies to be more aligned with their gender identity than the sex that they were assigned at birth. This term has genderally fallen out of favor in the United States because it over-emphasizes a person’s medical transition rather than affirming their gender identity. Since historically it was a medical term, some people feel it is unnecessarily pathologizing. However, some transgender people in the US and in other countries use the term “transsexual” as an affirming identity label. In such situations, it is not considered derogatory. Unless a person refers to their own identity or reports another person’s self-identification as transsexual, “transgender” is generally the best term to use. (Green and Maurer)


refers to people whose current gender identity corresponds to the sex they were assigned at birth (Coleman et al.)

Gender Expression

The ways in which a person socially presents themselves to the world through clothing, hairstyles, toys and other preferences. Most people’s gender expression matches their physical sex characteristics or birth sex.


The process of changing one's gender presentation or sex characteristics to accord with one's internal sense of gender identity

Social Transition

Medical Transition

Legal Transition

- The process of changing one’s gender presentation to the social world. this can include family, friends, school, social me

- The process of changing one’s sex characteristics. This can include hormone therapy, top or bottom surgery, facial surgery, and vocal training

- The process of changing one’s name and gender on legal documents. This can include Identification cards and Driver’s License, Birth Certificates, Social Security Cards, Insurance documents, school and work records


Acknowledging the gender identity of an individual. It is important to remember that they are not changing their gender rather we are changing our perceptions based upon what the individual has expressed to us.

Gender Non-Conforming

Behavior or expression of not conforming to societal definitions of male and female.


denoting, having, or relating to a gender identity that does not conform to traditional binary beliefs about gender, which indicate that all individuals are exclusively either male or female.

Male and female are seen as the traditional gender binary in many parts of the world. Whether by social construct or cultural belief, gender binary is created by a set of beliefs of how a person should look, act, and present themselves to the world based on what the doctor perceived when they were born. The gender binary is not based on scientific fact, it is based on social and cultural constructs. Which is why we see genders outside of the male-female binary in many cultures around the world. 

Gender Diverse

people with gender identities and/or expressions that are different from social and cultural expectations attributed to their sex assigned at birth. This may include, among many other culturally diverse identities, people who identify as nonbinary, gender expansive, gender nonconforming, and others who do not identify as cisgender.

Gender Queer  

A person who identifies as neither, both, or a combination of male and female genders.


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

Gender Dysphoria/Gender Identity Disorder

A persistent distress with one’s physical sex characteristics or assigned birth sex role/  “Gender Identity Disorder” is a diagnostic category in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA, Revision IV-TR, 2000). In its current form, the diagnosis is controversial among transgender advocates and mental health professionals.


gender pronouns or personal gender pronouns are the set of pronouns that an individual wants others to use to reflect that person's gender identity.

Sexual Orientation

A person’s romantic, spiritual and emotional attraction to another. Sexual Orientation is often confused with gender identity; however, is related to who you are attracted to, rather than your gender identity. Some common sexual orientations are queer, gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, pan-sexual, and heterosexual.

Gender Neutral

A term that describes something (sometimes a space, such as a bathroom, or an item, such as a piece of clothing) that is not segregated by sex/gender. Some language can also be gender neutral 

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