The language that is used within the transgender community can be confusing. While it should be noted that the words and language we use to describe ourselves is constantly evolving, here are some terms that might assist you.
Cisgender(Cis) - Someone whose physical sex, gender role and gender identity are congruent. Someone who is not Transgender. Refers to people whose sex assignment at birth corresponds to their gender identity and expression.
Crossdresser - A cisgender person who occasionally wears articles of clothing and other items commonly associated with the opposite gender within a particular society. Cross-dressing has been used for purposes of disguise, comfort, gratification and self-actualization in modern times and throughout history. The term itself does not imply any motives and is not synonymous to one's gender identity.
Dual Gender / Gender Fluid - Someone whose gender identity falls somewhere other than at the end of the gender spectrum. This person identifies with another gender part of the time. During these times this person wears articles of clothing and other items associated with the opposite gender.
Female-to-Male (FtM) - A child or adult who was born anatomically female but has a male gender identity. The word 'Transman' is another descriptor.
Transgender - An umbrella term used to describe anyone whose identity or behavior falls outside of stereotypical gender norms. More narrowly defined, it refers to an individual whose gender identity does not match their assigned birth gender. Some Transgender individuals may identify with both sexes (Gender Fluid). Being transgender does not imply any specific sexual orientation (attraction to people of a specific gender.) Therefore, transgender people may identify as straight, gay, lesbian, or bisexual.
Gender - Refers to the societal-determined characteristics of a particular sex; these characteristics are commonly referred to as “feminine” and “masculine”. Different societies have different ideas about what it means to be feminine or masculine and how people are expected to act. Gender is often confused with sex. Sex refers to physical/biological characteristics and gender refers to social and emotional attributes (e.g. "Sex" is what you have between your legs, "gender" is what you have between your ears.)
Gender Queer - A gender-variant person whose gender identity is neither male nor female, is between or beyond genders, or is some combination of genders. This term represents a blurring of the lines around gender identity and sexual orientation. Gender Queer individuals typically reject notions of static categories of gender and embrace a fluidity of gender identity and sexual orientation.
GRS - Traditionally, an acronym for Gender Reassignment Surgery--formerly known as Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) or a 'sex change'. The GRS acronym is evolving to to represent Gender Reconfirmation Surgery, or Genital Reconfiguration Surgery, both of which more closely describe the intent of the surgical procedure rather than the results of. For example, MTF GRS aims to alter the body to create the appearance of and in some cases, the functionality of, female genitals, but cannot create, nor transplant, the female sexual organs themselves. Another acronym is Gender Confirmation Surgery (GCS)
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Intersex - About 1% of children are born with a sexual anatomy that is difficult to label as male or female. Formerly refered to as hermaphrodites, they are born with chromosomes, hormones, genitalia and/or other sex characteristics that are not exclusively male or female. They may be born with genitals that look like most boys’ or girls’ genitals, but have internal reproductive organs usually associated with the other sex. In most cases, they are assigned a biological sex (male or female) by their doctors and/or families and may be subjected to numerous genital surgeries and hormone treatments in order to conform their bodies to the standard of either “male” or “female.”
Male-to-Female (MtF) - Male to female transgender or transsexual persons. A child or adult who was born anatomically male but has a female gender identity. The word 'Transwoman' is another descriptor.
Significant Other (SO) - A wife, husband, fiance, girlfriend, boyfriend or life partner of a Transgender individual.
Sex - Refers to the designation of the biological differences between females and males. This is the scientific term for what makes males and females different; remember, though, that not everyone fits into these 2 categories. There are a number of different factors that determine sex, not just chromosomes.
Sexual Orientation - Describes who people fall in love with and/or are sexually attracted to, while Gender Identity describes how people perceive their own internal sense of maleness or femaleness. Transgender people can be straight, gay, lesbian or bisexual—gender identity is separate from your sexual orientation.
Transgender (TG) - A person whose gender identity does not match their birth sex. Sometimes used as an umbrella to describe anyone whose identity or behavior falls outside of stereotypical gender norms. More narrowly defined, it refers to an individual whose gender identity does not match their assigned birth gender. Being transgender does not imply any specific sexual orientation (attraction to people of a specific gender.) Therefore, transgender people may additionally identify as straight, gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Transgender people may or may not choose to have GRS.
Transition - The process by which a transgender individual strives to have physical presentation more closely align with gender identity. Transition can occur in three ways: social transition through nonpermanent changes in clothing, hairstyle, name and/or pronouns; medical transition through the use of medicines such as hormone “blockers” or cross hormones to promote gender-based body changes; and/or surgical transition in which an individual’s body is modified through the addition or removal of gender-related physical traits.
Transsexual (TS) - A person whose gender identity does not match their birth sex and physically alter their bodies surgically and/or hormonally. This physical transition is a multi-step process that may take years and may include, but is not limited to, sex reassignment surgery, also referred to as GRS.