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Glossary of Terms Related to Gender

Birth name or “dead name”- a person’s name given at birth before a person’s transition in which they have chosen a new name for themselves.  To use a transgender person’s birth name is called “dead naming” them and is very painful for and insulting to many transgender people.


Bottom Surgery or Lower Surgery- refers to surgeries that alter or remove reproductive organs and/or genitalia


Cisgender- People whose gender identity and gender expression align with their assigned sex at birth (i.e., the sex listed on their birth certificates). Cisgender is a term that some people prefer when writing and speaking about transgender and non-transgender people, with the nontransgender people being referred to as “cisgender”. In this manner, a transgender person is not singled out as being different or not normal. 


Dysphoria- Discomfort and distress related to the incongruence between a person’s gender identity and the sex they were assigned at birth. Can be mild (i.e. feeling uncomfortable in gendered clothing) to severe (unable to leave the house). Often, suicide among transgender people relates to dysphoria. 


Gender-Affirming Care- healthcare and wellness services in which the client or patient’s gender identity is recognized without judgement throughout the entire process of receiving services and they are given resources, information, and encouragement to make the best health decisions for themselves in an open and non-judgemental environment. 


Gender Affirming Surgeries-

  • Breast augmentation

  • Breast reduction

  • Chondrolaryngoplasty (‘trach shave” or Adam’s apple reduction). 

  • Double mastectomy with chest masculinization (AKA “Top Surgery”)

  • FFS: facial feminization surgeries (many different plastic surgeries) 

  • Hysterectomy

  • Metoidioplasty

  • Orchiectomy 

  • Oophorectomy (bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy) 

  • Phalloplasty

  • Vaginoplasty

  • Vocal chords to alter the pitch of their voice 



Gender binary- The idea that there are only 2 genders: male and female.


Gender expression/presentation- The performance of one’s gender, especially how it’s communicated to others through: carriage (movement), dress, grooming, hairstyles, jewelry, mannerisms, physical characteristics, social interactions, speech patterns (voice), etc.


Gender identities you might hear… (google them!) - Gender bender, Bigender, Beyond binary, Gender fluid, Gender outlaw, Pan gender, Polygender, Androgyne, Cross-dressers, Gender, Gender bender, Gender identity, Gender non-conforming, Genderqueer, Intersex, Sex, Transgender, Two Spirit, Drag Queen, Drag King. 

Gender Identity- A person’s innate, deeply-felt psychological identification as a man, woman, or another gender, which may or may not correspond to the person’s external body or assigned sex at birth (i.e., the sex listed on the birth certificate). 


Gender non-conforming/ Gender expansive/ Gender variant - Umbrella terms referring to people whose gender identities fall outside of what is considered typical for their sex as assigned at birth. 


Gender spectrum- A continuum ranging from the extremely masculine to the extremely feminine including an infinite number of gendered states in between.


Hormone therapy or HRT-​ Administration of hormones to develop characteristics of a different gender than the one that was assigned at birth. A process of taking hormones to change one’s internal body chemistry. Hormone therapy is safest when administered by a medical professional and with informed consent about all potential health risks. 

Misgender- Assigning a gendered category to a person which is connected to a gender other than that which they identify with. This can be verbal, written, or communicated through action.


Non-binary- a gender identity that is neither strictly male nor strictly female and departs from or mixes expressions of masculinity or femininity.


Outing- The unauthorized disclosure by one person of another person’s gender identity. 


Passing- When transgender people are perceived, without question, as being a cisgender individual of the gender they are presenting.  



(Preferred) pronoun- the pronoun that a gender non-conforming person has asked people to use when referring to that person. Since “preferred” implies that it is optional, many people are changing to simply ask “what pronouns do you use?”


  • he/him/his (Danny packed his suitcase because he leaves tomorrow.)

  • she/her/hers (Ellen drove her car because she was running late.)

  • they/them/theirs (Frances drank their water because they were thirsty)

  • Ze/hir/hir (Tyler ate hir food because ze was hungry.) 

    • Ze is pronounced like “zee” can also be spelled zie or xe, and replaces she/he/they. 

    • Hir is pronounced like “here” and replaces her/hers/him/his/they/theirs.

  • Some people prefer no pronouns and ask that people use their name instead (Ash ate Ash’s food because Ash was hungry) 


Sexual Orientation- A person’s enduring physical, romantic, emotional, and/or spiritual attraction to another person. Sexual orientation is distinct from sex, gender identity, and gender expression. A person’s sexual orientation should not be assumed based on the perceived sex of that person’s partner(s). 


Sex Assigned at Birth- the sex marker, male or female, assigned to babies when they are born. This term is the appropriate way to ask a person about the biological history of their bodies but should only be done with it is necessary for you to have this information 

  • AFAB:​ assigned female at birth. 

  • AMAB:​ assigned male at birth. 


Top Surgery- most often used by transmen to refer to the removal of breast tissue, relocation and resizing of nipple complexes, and chest reconstruction to a male chest structure. 


Transgender- An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from their assigned sex at birth (i.e., the sex listed on their birth certificates). Transgender includes people who choose to alter their bodies hormonally and/or surgically and those who do not. 

  • Use “transgender”, not “transgendered”. 

  • In common speech it is shortened to “trans” (as in Trans Affirming Care)

  • When abbreviated as “trans*”, it is to indicate that many identites are grouped under that term (this comes from computer search protocols where typing “anim*” will search for all words that begin with anim such al animal, animate, animosity…) 


Transman / FTM - Generally refers to someone who was assigned female at birth but who identifies and portrays his gender as male. FTM = Female to Male. People will often use this term after taking some steps to express their gender as male, or after medically transitioning. Some, but not all, transmen make physical changes through hormones or surgery. 

  • Some people prefer to be referred to as men rather than transmen or transgender men. 


Transwoman / MTF- Generally refers to someone who was identified male at birth but who identifies and portrays her gender as female. MTF = Male to Female. People will often use this term after taking some steps to express their gender as female, or after medically transitioning. Some, but not all, transwomen make physical changes through hormones or surgery. Some people prefer to be referred to as women rather than transwomen or transgender women. 


Transition-  A process of shifting one's gender expression or body to better match one’s gender identity (typically moving away from those associated with sex assigned at birth) 


  • Medical Transition- a transition process generally under medical guidance which includes taking masculinizing or feminizing hormones, hormone blockers, & surgeries  

  • Non-Medical Transition- A transition process which includes changing name, binding chest, wearing shaping garments, changing clothing type, changing hair style, modifying legal documents, training the voice to be higher or lower, growing or removing body hair, altering posture, building muscle, changing carriage (movement), etc.   


Transphobia- Dislike of, discomfort with, fear of or hatred of people whose gender identity and/or gender expression do not conform to traditional or stereotypic gender roles. Any intentional act to be disparaging about or disrespectful of a person’s gender identity is transphobic.

(Adapted & consolidated from: Trans Bodies, Trans Selves (1st Ed), A Clinicians Guide to Gender Affirming Care, The Gender Book, Center of Excellence for Transgender Health, Fenway Health Glossary of Gender Terms)

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