Transgender Terms Sheet Print

The usage of these terms varies across communities, and new ways of
talking about the perceptions and experiences of transpeople appear every
day as more and more transpeople are coming out and talking about their

Gender: A person's expression and/or presentation of some combination
of masculine and/or feminine characteristics.

Gender Identity: A person's personal view of their own gender. A person's gender identity may or may not conform to the conventional expectations for their birth sex.

Gender Expression: The external presentation or appearance of
a person's gender. (Ex. Dress, mannerisms, hair style, speech, etc.). A
person's gender expression may differ from their gender identity.

Perceived Gender: What another person assumes one's gender is in a given interaction. Some people's gender expression is commonly misinterpreted or confused and is different from their identity/expression.

Transgender: A term used to describe people who's gender identity
is not adequately described by the sex they were assigned at birth. Transgender
is also used in some communities to describe all gender variant people.

Transsexual: A person who does not identify with the sex they
were assigned at birth. Many but not all transsexuals have or wish to alter
their bodies through the use of hormones or surgery. Transsexuals can be
male-to-female (MTF) or female-to-male (FTM).

Transition: The process of changing one's presentation and/or
expression to align with one's gender identity. Some of these changes include
name change, pronoun change, hormonal modifications, or surgery. Transition
varies greatly across the transgender community, both in what people choose
to change and when certain changes feel most comfortable.

Intersex: An individual whose biological birth does not correspond
with conventional expectations of male/female anatomy or genetics. Some
intersexuals consider themselves transgender and some do not. The older
term hermaphrodite is considered by many to be offensive.

Legal sex: The sex assigned on one's legal documents (license,
birth certificate, Social Security Card, etc.). For transpeople these documents
can be at odds due to differing laws regarding transitioning from state
to state (ex. A female birth certificate that says female but a drivers
license that says male)

Birth sex: The sex an individual is labeled at birth determined
by a combination of genetic and physical characteristics. Biological/Birth
sex is usually determined at birth by a "best-fit" strategy, dependent
on the examiner's bias.

Sexual Orientation: The gender or genders of the people one chooses
to form romantic/sexual attachments to. Gender identity and sexual orientation
are very different. Transpeople can be gay, lesbian, strait, queer, bisexual,
or pansexual.

Crossdressing: Adopting the dress of another sex. The older term
transvestite is considered by many to be offensive. Crossdressers differ
from transsexuals in that they do not necessarily wish to change their

Drag: The adoption of clothing and roles of another sex for the
purpose of play, entertainment, or eroticism. Originally used to refer
to "drag queens" (DRessed as A Girl), there are also a number of "drag
kings." Drag performers are not crossdressers, who adopt the clothing of
another sex outside of the context of entertainment/ performance.

Genderqueer: Someone whose gender expression is consciously not
consistent with conventional standards for male and female behavior.

Gendervariant: Someone whose combination of legal sex, birth
sex, gender identity, gender expression, and perceived gender do not line
up according to societal expecations. Often used in replacement of Genderqueer,
but is more comfortable with those not comfortable reclaiming the word

Gender Dualism: The belief that there are only two genders.

Standards of Care: A set of guidelines formulated by the Harry
Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association to determine when and
how transpeople could obtain sex reassignment, involving a period of psychotherapy, "the Real Life Test," and , if desired, surgery. Only within the past year have The Standards of Care been rewritten with advice and counsel from
actual transpersons.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): The process of taking hormones
to achieve the secondary sex characteristics of the desired sex. "T" is
a common short-hand for the male hormone Testosterone.

Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS): Surgery for the porpose of having
a body more consistant with one's gender identity. SRS can get quite costly,
and not everyone who desires SRS has equal access.