In honour of Pride Month, we wanted to provide something that would be helpful to people who may be exploring their gender identity, or to those with loved ones who are on their transgender journey. Here are just a few of the most well-used terms in the trans communities, and what they actually mean.
Gender dysphoria / Gender incongruence - Medical terms describing the state of mental and emotional stress that people go through when they cannot reconcile their personal gender identity with the sex they were assigned at birth.
Cisgender - A cisgender person identifies as the gender they were assigned at birth.
Transgender - A transgender person does not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth.
Transsexual - The term “transsexual” has somewhat fallen out of favour; it can be seen as synonymous with the term “transgender”, although some say that “transsexual” explicitly refers to trans people who have undergone gender reassignment surgery.
Transvestite - Another term that has fallen out of modern usage, a transvestite or cross-dresser is somebody who dresses in clothes of the opposite gender. However, the term is rarely used now as we come to embrace terms like “non-binary”, “genderqueer” and “genderfluid”.
Trans man - A trans man is a person who has transitioned or wants to transition from female to male.
Trans woman - A trans woman is a person who has transitioned or wants to transition from male to female.
Non-binary/Enby - “Binary” is a term used to describe society’s division of men and women. Therefore non-binary (colloquially known as “enby”) is used to describe someone with a personal identity outside of being strictly male or female. As a person can transition from male/female to non-binary, they are technically under the transgender umbrella.
Genderfluid - Genderfluid describes someone who expresses themselves in different ways depending on their mood. Some days they may prefer a more feminine look, while other days see them favouring a more masculine image.
Genderqueer - Sometimes synonymous with “non-binary”, genderqueer describes someone who does not subscribe to conventional gender norms and identifies as both, neither or a combination of male and female.
Intersex - A person who is intersex is born with ambiguous sexual characteristics on an anatomical level; this includes possessing chromosomal, gonadal, genital or hormonal traits at odds with other parts of their body.
Pronouns - Pronouns refer to either someone or something (me/we/he/she/they/it), so when people talk about their pronouns, they are expressing how they would like to be referred to besides their name. Trans people may switch their pronouns from “he” to “she” or “she” to “he” as part of their transition, while many non-binary people prefer to be referred to as the singular “they”.
Transition - Transitioning describes a transgender person’s journey in changing their gender presentation. This may involve working on their appearance through clothes, surgery and/or hormone therapy, as well as changing their name and pronouns.
Detransition - Detransitioning describes the process through which a transgender person might go to present as their original gender which they had previously transitioned from.
Packing - Packing is the process of padding out or using a phallic object (sometimes called a “packer”) in the underwear to give the appearance of male genitalia.
Binding - Binding is the process of flattening the breasts with material or a garment known as a “binder” to minimise their prominence.
Passing - Passing is when a transgender person is broadly assumed by others to be a cisgender person. Not all transgender people reach this stage in their transition, particularly if they choose not to undergo surgery or hormone therapy.
Top surgery - For trans men, top surgery is usually the process of reducing the size of the breasts, while for trans women it is the process of breast enlargement.
Bottom surgery - The most obvious type of sex reassignment surgery is bottom surgery. This includes the removal of outward genitalia and the creation of new genitalia such as phalloplasty for trans men and vaginoplasty for trans women.
T - Short for testosterone, in reference to hormonal medication usually taken by trans men to allow them to grow facial hair and deepen their voice among other things.
AFAB / AMAB - Assigned Female At Birth and Assigned Male At Birth. This refers to the sex depicated on all birth documents.
FTM / MTF - Female to Male and Male to Female. FTM describes trans men while MTF describes trans women.
SRS / GRS - Sex reassignment sugery and gender reassignment surgery. These are the same thing and refer to a number of different surgeries undergone in a trans person’s transitional journey.
Dead name - Noun: The name that a transgender person was born with which they no longer use.
Verb: To “dead name” somebody means to use a trans person’s former name against their wishes either purposefully or accidentally.
Misgendering - Using gendered nouns or pronouns to describe a person which are at odds with their preferred nouns and pronouns.
Transphobia - The prejudice, discrimination and stereotyping of trans people by intolerant cisgender people.
TERF - Trans-exclusionary radical feminist. This term describes ciswomen who champion ciswomen’s rights with the exclusion of trans women. TERFs don’t usually refer to themselves as such, however; it is generally used as a negative slur towards transphobic women.