This list of terms is provided for a better understanding of words/ideas associated with the Transgender community at large. Please note, this list has been compiled from various sources and is always in development. This list is provided with the intention of offering a general understanding of terms you may encounter while working with or living in the Trans community.
Much debate surrounds the meaning of “gender” and its relation to the term “sex.” In this list, the term “gender” may be used to refer to both the ideal of gender identity and the physical traits of one’s “sex.”
FTM (Female to Male)
a. Someone assigned female gender at birth, for whom the assigned gender does not fit. Also, Transman.
b. A person whose physical gender is female but gender identity is male
Gender is the set of socially constructed norms associated with a given birth sex i.e. masculinity or femininity. Gender may be considered as a sense of one’s own maleness or femaleness.
A medical term which characterises a feeling of incongruity with the physical gender (sex) assigned at birth.
a. Refers to how a person self-identifies in terms of gender. This may or may not conform to the gender assigned at birth.
b. The gender by which one relates or considers themselves.
c. The relationship between sex and gender. (i.e. if sex is female and gender is female, then a person identifies as female. However, if sex is female and gender is male than a person may identify as either male or female or a combination often referred to as Gender Queer.)
The cultural perception of how a person of a perceived gender identity will behave. (i.e. female people are expected to be feminine and male people are expected to be masculine.) These perceptions vary from one culture to another.
An effect caused by internal or external sexual organs.
An effect caused by hormones.
A person whose physical sex is ambiguous either due to different genitals or internal sexual organs. There are many (over 70) different intersex conditions, some of which are not apparent at birth, the origins of which are variously hormonal, chromosomal or genetic. Intersex people were previously known as hermaphrodites.
MTF (Male to Female)
a. Someone assigned male gender at birth, for whom the assigned gender does not fit. Also, Transwoman.
b. A person whose physical gender is male but gender identity is female
Sex is the term most often used to describe whether someone is male or female and relates to the gender a person is assigned at or soon after birth. This definition assumes that there are only ‘two sexes’. It is a biological and legal category.
An expression of sexual attraction towards people of a particular gender identity. (e.g. lesbian or gay, bisexual, heterosexual, queer, trans-attracted etc.)
SO (Significant Other)
This means specifically a partner/spouse/lover
Significant Others, Family, Friends and Allies of Transgender/Transsexual people
Abbreviation for Transgender (also includes Transsexual, which is also TS)
Abbreviation for transgender, transsexual, and transition. Often used to blur or erase the distinctions between the terms.
a. Having a gender identity or expression that does not conform to the gender assigned at birth. Usually understood as a general, or umbrella, term encompassing a range of trans identities which may or may not include surgical or chemical treatment.
b. Exhibiting the appearance and behavioral characteristics of a sex other than as assigned at birth.
c. An umbrella term used to include all people who identify as having a gender identity different from their birth gender. This includes transsexual, intersex, cross-dressers etc. This term can also be used to specifically describe gender variant people who choose not to have medical intervention or limited medical intervention.
The life-long process of moving from the gender assigned at birth to another gender. Not all trans-identified people consider themselves to be in transition.
Transition that involves surgical or chemical treatment.
Transition that involves only role transition without surgical or chemical treatment.
Transman, Trans Man, TransMan
A person assigned female at birth who identifies as a male person. Often this term is used by those feel they have never been female and thus always male. Transman can be used as an inclusive term to include all transgender people who are predominantly male identified.
a. Having a gender identity or expression that does not conform to the gender assigned at birth. Usually refers to someone who seeks to live full time as another gender, especially through surgical or chemical treatment to obtain desired physical characteristics.
b. A term often used to describe a gender different person who undergoes medical and social gender reassignment. Often used in conjunction with the terms female-to-male (FTM) or male-to-female (MTF) to denote the original birth gender.
Transwoman, Trans Woman, TransWoman
A person assigned male at birth who identifies as a female person. Often this term is used by those feel they have never been male and thus always female. Transwoman can be used as an inclusive term to include all transgender people who are predominantly female identified.
* It is worth noting that many terms used by transgender people vary in precise meaning from one community to another.
** These two terms are very often interchangeable, though most people prefer “transgender” since it carries a less negative connotation in the public’s view.
© 2005 Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches
Written and Edited by UFMCC Transgender Resource Team