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This glossary documents the more common terms of art and neologisms used by transgender people.
A few slurs are included here, so note that slurs can act as both a sword against or a shield used by marginalized communities. Like the African American verbal game, "The Dozens", LGBT slang was used a shield to toughen up individuals within the community against a harsh and difficult outside world. After the 1969 Stonewall riots,[note 1] the LGBT community has gradually gone from marginalization to mainstream, and the continued use of slurs within the community nowadays would be perceived as self-hatred rather than 'toughening up'.
Agender (meaning "without" or "a lack of" a "gender"; also genderless, non-gendered, ungendered) is a person who identifies as "having no gender" or "without gender identity". It may fall under the genderqueer or transgender (lit. being "beyond gender") umbrella. It is related to, and may overlap with the gender identity of neutrois, defined as either a neutral or neither gender, or sometimes no gender.
Androgyny is gender ambiguity.
A trans person who has recently discovered that they're trans, or a trans minor.
Bigender is a gender identity that consists of two genders.
When a trans person presents as male.
Boymoding does not imply anything about a person's gender identity, or assigned gender at birth. People of any gender may choose to boymode. For example, a trans woman might choose to present as male, at least part of the time, to avoid harassment, job loss, or abuse.
When a person uses a binder to hide their breasts or make them less noticeable.
An abbreviation of the phrases Coercively Assigned Female/Male At Birth, a variation on AFAB/AMAB which conveys the view that gender assignment is arbitrary but still strictly enforced.
A person who seeks to date trans persons solely because they are trans, especially in a fetishistic and dehumanizing manner.
Chestfeeding is a more inclusive alternative to the term "breastfeeding." Since breasts become gendered, to say "breastfeeding" automatically suggests womanhood. Chests, however, do not, according to society, necessarily presuppose a gender, thus to say one chestfeeds is to ensure there is a higher likelihood of preventing another person from automatically gendering the nursing parent. Chestfeeding is a term, thus, that seeks to indicate acknowledgment of and support for trans and non-binary people.
Chicks with dicks
A slur used to describe trans women without SRS. It is a common term in the pornography industry.
A cisgender person is a person whose gender identity matches their assigned sex.
"Clocky" is sometimes used to mean "a person likely to be clocked," or "a person who is visibly gender-nonconforming."
Someone who likes to dress up as the opposite sex. Both terms are mostly used to imply that trans people are perverts. However, some cisgender individuals do cross-dress without any malice and it is fine to refer to them specifically as cross-dressers.
Cross-sex hormone therapy
The offensive act of using the name a trans person's used prior to transitioning, whether in social contexts, official documents, media/online, or explicitly as an attack on a trans person. While it might sometimes happen accidentally among friends/relatives, it is considered harmful and demeaning because it can be a rejection of a person's identity as trans and an attack on their attempt to transition and the reality of their gender identification.
A nonbinary gender identity that identifies as being partially another gender. Demigender people may feel more associated with one gender than any other, but not enough to identify as said gender. Common demigenders include demigirl, demiboy, and demiflux (when a neutral gender is the preferred gender).
Detransitioning is the cessation or reversal of a transgender identification or gender transition.
A drag queen is (usually) a man who dresses as a women often in elaborate costume and makeup for performance. It is a theatrical tradition common in gay clubs and other venues, that often includes dancing, lip syncing, live singing, and "reading" (humorously putting down) other performers and audience members. A drag king is a woman dressed as a stereotypical man, often with facial hair, leather or formal suits, and fake penises (packing). Although often done by LGBTQ people, drag artists are not necessarily transgender and many performers are cis or non-binary when offstage.
Anyone that isn't Intersex.
A transgender person before such person recognizes themselves as trans or who is about to recognize themselves as trans.
Facial feminization surgery
Facial feminization surgery is plastic surgery that makes faces more feminine. This procedure aims to emphasize the somatic traits of women including (but not limited to): hairline, brows, nose, jaw. It thus reduces the effects on facial anatomy caused by male puberty.
Short for feminine. Also French word meaning "woman". Sometimes written "fem".
The lengthy process of obtaining access to HRT medication that might be more or less influenced by the belief of some medical professionals that a person "is not truly trans" because they don't fit some specific sexist stereotypes, or they have a sexual orientation towards the "wrong" gender.
Gender dysphoria is the state of dysphoria (displeasure, disapproval) one feels from not conforming to their identified gender. It also occurs when a trans person is identified with the wrong pronoun.
The state of euphoria (pleasure, approval) one feels from being affirmed in their gender identity.
A gender identity that changes over time e.g. a gender-fluid person may be a boy on Mondays and a girl on Sundays.
A genderqueer person is someone who doesn't fully identify on the gender binary (man or woman), but on a continuum between those two.
Gender Reassignment Surgery
Alternative wording for sex reassignment surgery
When a trans person presents as female.
Girlmoding does not imply anything about a person's gender identity, or assigned gender at birth. People of any gender may choose to girlmode. For example, a non-binary person assigned female at birth might choose to present as binary female, at least part of the time, to avoid harassment, job loss, or abuse.
A term for traditional third gender cultures in the Indian subcontinent, with a long history and increasing legal recognition as a separate gender; some are intersex or eunuchs but others are neither. There are many other names in different languages and cultures including Kinnar or Kinner in India and Khawaja Sira in Pakistan.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
See drugs section, below.
Intersex refers to any biological ambiguity of an animal or human's sex from "chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals".
Third person singular pronouns typically used to refer to non-human animals and inanimate objects, and in more recent times often used to mock trans people. However, people in the trans and/or non-binary community might use these pronouns. This depersonalizing pronoun was also used within the LGBT community, particularly in pre-Stonewall days.:114
In Thailand, kathoey (usually translated to English as 'ladyboy') is used to encompass trans women and effeminate gay men.
Contraction of the word "masculine".
Neutrois is a gender identity that is neutral or null. Neutrois people may also describe themselves variously as genderless, neither male nor female, or androgynous, or possibly agender, the lack of a gender, a term with which there is a degree of overlap, although neutrois tends to cover a neutral gender identity, whereas agender tends to cover the lack of a gender.
Packing is the practice of making a bulge in one's groin to emphasize one's masculinity and relieve body dysphoria for transmasculine people. Packers run the gamut from wadded-up socks to realistic silicone likenesses of genitalia.
"Passing" is when a trans person is assumed or perceived to be cis, or their preferred gender. "Passing" is reliant on many different factors and it is not possible for all trans people to always pass at the expense of affirmation surgery and hormones, as well as document changes, and the difficulty of making a clean break from pre-transition life. Because of this, passing is often conditional or temporary.
The term polysexual refers to sexual orientations that involve sexual attraction towards multiple genders.
A term originating on 4chan’s /lgbt/ (aka /tttt/ whose users are mostly trans women and retain many characteristics of 4chan’s general userbase such as referring to themselves with slurs and making suicide jokes) for a stereotypical trans man who behaves extremely femininely. It has also been co-opted by the rare transphobes who target trans men.
A nick name for Mumsnet, because of its central role in the promotion of transphobia in the United Kingdom among middle class white cis women. Named for the neo-Nazi website and a stereotype of prosecco drinkers as (a certain type of) woman.
Sex reassignment surgery
Surgery that involves changing one's primary and secondary sexual characteristics to become the opposite sex.
The shield emoji (🛡️) is commonly used to signal opposition to transmedicalism. On the other hand, the crossed-swords (⚔️) and lightning bolt (⚡) emojis are used as truscum dogwhistles. The swords emoji originated from Kalvin Garrah, who is now inactive but formerly called his fans the "cis knights"  while the lightning bolts originate from a former transmedicalist named Storm Ryan.
Sex assignment at birth
Sex assignment at birth refers to the sex that an observer declares the baby to be shortly after birth. The doctor (or midwife, or whoever else is present) examines the infant and declares "It's a boy!" if a penis is present or "It's a girl!" if a vulva is present. In the case of certain intersex conditions, one may not be able to make that call, as the genitalia of the infant may be ambiguous.
A breakdown of the terms and abbreviations involved:
- AFAB: Assigned Female At Birth
- AMAB: Assigned Male At Birth
- AGAB: Assigned Gender At Birth
The terms "AMAB" or "AFAB" are generally preferred over the terms "female-bodied/male bodied" or "anatomically male/anatomically female", or "biologically male/biologically female", as these terms automatically assign a gender to certain body parts, and do not take into account the possibility that the individual in question may have undergone surgery to change their genitals. "Genetic male" or "genetic female" are also incorrect terms, as certain intersex conditions can be caused by having a XY karyotype (combination of chromosomes) but be born with a vulva/uterus, or have XX karyotype and be born with a penis/testicles. For further information on some intersex conditions: XY gonadal dysgenesis (Swyer syndrome), XX male syndrome (De la Chapelle syndrome), XXY male (Klinefelter syndrome).
"Going stealth" means living like one's preferred gender completely with nobody (or almost nobody) knowing one is trans. In effect, nobody knows or sees them as anything but a cisgender person. This may include breaking contact with most or all pre-transition relatives and friends. Stealth is not possible for all trans people since it requires being able to pass completely.
Woodworking is a somewhat dated term for cutting off all contact with anybody who knew a trans person by their assigned gender at birth, relocating to a new area, and going fully stealth. Until the 1990s, health care professionals often assumed this should be the end goal of any gender transition. Trans people were sometimes pressured to disassociate from friends, family, and professional contacts even if they did not wish to do so, under threat of being deemed not trans enough to receive health care.
Today, some individuals view "going stealth" as a tactic to avoid anti-trans discrimination. Though, this comes with certain social trade-offs even if somebody finds it achievable, such as relative isolation from the wider trans community, and a general lack of real-world personal support regarding trans-related experiences. The disadvantages are also obvious to cutting ties to old friends and relatives one had a positive relationship with.
A trans man/boy or trans woman/girl, respectively. Not inherently derogatory, but these terms are primarily used in the context of sex and/or pornography, so using it to refer to a random trans person will come across as very creepy.
A nickname for the United Kingdom, due to its overwhelming and widespread transphobia, especially of the TERF kind (unlike the US, where transphobia is instead a component of the conservative agenda).
A derogatory and offensive term for a transgender person. Usually used to attack trans women. In the past, this term has been used within the transgender community, e.g., the "Tranny Fest" film festival, which has since been renamed the "San Francisco Transgender Film Festival", and Trannyshack, which was renamed to Mother.
A catch-all word for people with a gender identity "more feminine" than that assigned at birth. This is inclusive of trans women and AMAB non-binary people, as well as intersex people assigned as such at birth who undergo transition. It covers far more than the term "MtF", and is independent of transition status. One can also talk of a "transfeminine transition" which can refer to any steps a transfeminine person may take in transitioning. The word is more of a direction than a state, hence why it can include such a large number of groups.
A longer word for truscum: those who seek to divide trans people into "real" and "fake/wannabe".
An umbrella term for people whose gender identity isn't the one typical of their sex assigned at birth.
Outdated term for "being transgender", today primarily used by transphobes to imply that being transgender is a political ideology (or product of one) rather than a state of being.
Transgender hormone therapy
Transgender hormone therapy is hormone replacement therapy meant to bring a trans person's secondary sexual characteristics closer to their true gender.
Transitioning is process where a trans person changes their gender presentation over time. It may or may not involve doing HRT.
A catch-all word for people with a gender identity "more masculine" than that assigned at birth. This is inclusive of trans men and AFAB non-binary people, as well as intersex people assigned as such at birth who undergo transition. It covers far more than the term "FtM", and is independent of transition status. One can also talk of a "transmasculine transition", which can refer to any steps a transmasculine person may take in transitioning. This word is directional in a similar manner as the word transfeminine.
Those who believe trans people must seek medical intervention and/or that only people medically diagnosed with gender dysphoria are "really" trans.
A term for transfeminine people, that highlights how many aspects of transphobia (including anti-nonbinary sentiment) uniquely affect trans people who were assigned male at birth (as opposed to cis people and transmasculine/non-binary AFAB people).
A term for people not affected by transmisogyny: cis women, cis and trans men, AFAB enbies.
The term "transnormativity" can mean two distinct things:
- the normalization of the idea that there is inherent diversity in the experience of being trans
- the idea that there is only one, normative way to be trans: to pass completely as the opposite binary gender
An outdated term for binary transgender people who specifically undergo HRT and SRS. The term is being abandoned in favor of the more inclusive transgender, but it's still used among truscums, anti-trans activists, and people in countries where the term still has widespread use along with some older trans people (plus in academia, as they haven't caught up fully).
Trans bashing is verbally, physically or sexually abusing a trans person.
Trans man / FtM
Trans panic defense
Trans woman / MtF
The word trap is a piece of internet slang, that depending on usage may be regarded as a slur.
The slang originates from the internet forum SomethingAwful, one of the earliest online anime communities, where in a discussion about the character Bridget from the fighting game franchise Guilty Gear (a trans girl character who was raised as a girl because of religious superstition, but identified as a boy at the time, prior to -STRIVE-), an administrator of the board responded with a reaction image of the character Admiral Ackbar from Star Wars Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi saying "it's a trap", poking fun at the fact that the character is a cisgender male yet the forum posters (assumed at the time to consist largely of straight males) were being sexually interested in the character.
As a result, in anime communities, the word "trap" is nearly always used to describe cisgender male characters who dress in feminine clothing, but otherwise identify as male. ("Reverse trap" is used for the same, but for cisgender female characters who dress in masculine clothing). In Japan, this is often associated with a subculture called otokonoko. For many anime fans, the word does not carry negative connotations, and there is a genre in anime dedicated to these sorts of characters, with the same name.
When 4chan was created after moot (the owner of 4chan) was banned from SomethingAwful, usage of the word was moved over to 4chan, along with the rest of the SomethingAwful subculture. On that site, it eventually was exploited by transphobes to insinuate that transgender women are trying to "trap" men into having sex with them.
Due to extensive hate mobs from 4chan users over the years, the word to many people outside of the anime community eventually became regarded as a slur. The word became controversial from 2016 onward, when anime itself entered mainstream popularity, and many transgender people who only experienced the word as a slur ended up clashing with older anime fans (some of whom are also transgender) who had largely missed the aforementioned hate mobs. Further complicating things is that for cross-dressers, the word is also often used as a self-identification, which caused further clashing with transgender people.
The result is that at present, the term is subject to every opinion under the sun, ranging from the obviously bad-faith "it's never a slur" (largely pushed by transphobes who want to use the term against transgender women), to "it's only a slur if you use to refer to a real person who doesn't consent to being called that" (often used by older anime fans who don't want to let go of the term and don't regard it as a slur), to "it's always a slur" (used by people new to the fandom). All of these opinions, except for the first one, are also often held by transgender people.
In conclusion, the use of the term is a complicated one, and one should care to examine context behind its use to determine if it is being used in a transphobic way, if it is an anime fan discussing a character, or a cross-dresser using it to identify themself.
A term (pronounced "true scum") used to describe transgender people who believe you need gender dysphoria to be transgender, at a base level, whether diagnosed by a doctor or not. People who fit with the Truscum ideology are often transphobic to those deemed "less trans" such as non-binary people, to transgender people who don't desire to undergo sex reassignment surgery, or those who state they don't experience gender dysphoria. The term is derogatory in nature, but has been used as a self-description to those who are less open, or flat out opposed, to the highly inclusive nature of the transgender community. While the term has been used interchangeably with transfundamentalists or transmedicalists, those terms typically refer to those who have a desire to have some form of gatekeeping with achieving a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria for obtaining Hormone Replacement Therapy and/or having surgeries (transmedicalist). Truscum people who are judging others based on their definition of what a "true" transgender person is, hence the term truscum (transfundamentalist). The more extreme of truscum views can be seen by many as in alignment with TERFs ideology, however, not all truscum people share this way of thinking.
The act of hiding one's penis between their legs to appear to have a vagina. The act may result in negative health consequences, so it should be used with caution.
Two-spirit is a term used by some Indigenous North American peoples to describe gender-variant people in their communities. Indigenous people often perceive the term as offensive cultural appropriation when used by people who are not of Indigenous heritage.
An ironic term used to criticize how the expression "(Women and) non-binary people" is often used (both in women's and in queer spaces) with the implicit expectation that "non-binary" means "women-lite", in the sense of a slightly androgynous AFAB enby person not on hormones. These implicit expectations harm people from both directions of the gender transition: transfeminine people (because they might fear transmisogyny from a women's space), and transmasculine people (because it can be seen as "women and people that we still see as women").
Cyproterone acetate is an anti-androgen used in hormone therapy (as well as to treat other conditions such as prostate problems and acne). Because of fears of liver injury it is not used in the US, where spironolactone is instead used; however studies linking cypro with liver problems have been criticised and the link questioned.
Progesterone is a primarily female hormone that enhances breast growth and can lead to improved mood and counteract the decrease in libido from anti-androgenic medications.
Spironolactone is a steroid that has medical uses, although it's not normally given to men because of its feminizing side effects. It's the main effect if you're a trans woman because it suppresses testosterone. It's known to cause salt cravings. It's an anti-androgen used in the US as an alternative to cyproterone acetate.
It prevents the start or stops the progression of puberty in both AFAB and AMAB young people (and is similarly used on cis children experiencing precocious puberty). By overstimulating GnRH receptors, it ultimately shuts down the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis' signal to the gonads to produce sex hormones. It is never prescribed before Tanner stage 2. The young person can decide to either move on to masculizing or feminizing hormone therapy or to stop treatment, in which case puberty will resume normally.
- Gay Talk: A (Sometimes Outrageous) Dictionary of Gay Slang by Bruce Rodgers (1972) Paragon Books. ISBN 0399503927.
- The transgender women at Stonewall were pushed out of the gay rights movement. Now they are getting a statue in New York. The monument honoring Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera will be the first of its kind in the world by Gillian Brockell (June 12, 2019) The Washington Post.
- "LGBTQ Needs Assessment" (PDF). April 2013. pp. 52–53. Retrieved 18 October 2014.
- "Gender alphabet" (PDF). p. 1. Retrieved 18 October 2014.
- A. Stiffler (23 April 2014). "Five Things You Should Know About Your Agender Acquaintance". Autostaddle.com.
- Johanna Schorn. "Taking the "Sex" out of Transsexual: Representations of Trans Identities in Popular Media" (PDF). Universität zu Köln. p. 1. Retrieved 23 October 2014. "The term transgender is an umbrella term “and generally refers to any and all kinds of variation from gender norms and expectations” (Stryker 19). Most often, the term transgender is used for someone who feels that the sex assigned to them at birth does not reflect their own gender identity. They may identify as the gender ‘opposite’ to their assigned gender, or they may feel that their gender identity is fluid, or they may reject all gender categorizations and identify as agender or genderqueer"
- Marc E. Vargo (30 Nov 2011). "A Review of " Please select your gender: From the invention of hysteria to the democratizing of transgenderism "" (PDF). Journal of GLBT Family Studies (New York/London: Routledge) 7 (5): 2 (493). ISSN 1550-4298. Retrieved 23 October 2014. "up to three million U. S. citizens regard themselves as transgender, a term referring to those whose gender identities are at odds with their biological sex. The term is an expansive one, however, and may apply to other individuals as well, from the person whose behavior purposely and dramatically diverges from society’s traditional male/female roles to the “agender”, “bigender” or “third gender” person whose self-definition lies outside of the male/female binary altogether. In short, those counted under this term constitute a wide array of people who do not conform to, and may actively challenge, conventional gender norms."
- Kirstin Cronn-Mills (2014). "IV. Trans*spectrum. Identities". Transgender Lives: Complex Stories, Complex Voices. Twenty-First Century Books. p. 24. ISBN 978-1-4677-4796-7. Retrieved 23 October 2014. "Many different individuals fall under what experts call the trans* spectrum, or the trans* umbrella.“I'm trans*” and “I'm transgender” are ways these individuals might refer to themselves. But there are distinctions among different trans* identities. [...] Androgynous individuals may not identify with either side of the gender binary. Other individuals consider themselves agender, and they may feel they have no gender at all."
- "What is Neutrois?". Retrieved February 21, 2014.
- Beware the Chasers: “Admirers” Who Harass Trans People by Christin Scarlett Milloy (Oct 02, 20149:36 AM) Slate.
- Laverne Cox lambastes ‘deadnaming.’ What is it and why is it a problem? by Allyson Chiu (August 14, 2018) The Washington Post.
- What Is Deadnaming?, Healthline
- See the Wikipedia article on Drag queen.
- The beard, the breasts and the bulge, Salon, 23 Jun 2003
- What cracked your shell? (c. 2018) Reddit.
- Congratulations. You’re beautiful, but are you “feminine”? Deschamps-Braly Clinic.
- See the Wikipedia article on Hijra (South Asia).
- 13 things every woman who loves prosecco knows to be true, Daily Edge, Nov 27, 2015
- Kalvin Garrah Wikitubia.
- RuPaul’s Drag Race Crosses the Line with “Female or Shemale” by Rafi D'Angelo (March 19, 20144:16 PM) Slate.
- "How British Feminism Became Anti-Trans", New York Times
- Tranny Definition, Merriam-Webster dictionary, accesssed September 29, 2022
- See the Wikipedia article on San Francisco Transgender Film Festival.
- SF drag legend Heklina bids adieu to the ‘Mother’ of all shows by Zack Ruskin (February 5, 2020) SF Chronicle.
- Gay and Trans Panic Defense The LGBT Bar (archived from June 15, 2014).
- PFLAG National Glossary of Terms (Updated January 2021) PFLAG.
- All The Questions You Had About Tucking, But Were Afraid To Ask: For many people, particularly trans women, tucking can be both necessary and life-affirming – but there's not a lot of information out there about how to do so safely. Here's what you need to get started. by Meredith Talusan (Apr 2, 2016) Buzzfeed.
- Oestrogen and anti-androgen therapy for transgender women, Vin Tangpricha and Martin den Heijer, Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2017 Apr; 5(4): 291–300. Published online 2016 Dec 2. doi: 10.1016/S2213-8587(16)30319-9
- See the Wikipedia article on Estradiol (medication).
- Rathnayake D, Sinclair R (2010). "Use of spironolactone in dermatology". Skinmed 8 (6): 328–32; quiz 333. PMID 21413648.
- The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) (2011). "Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender Nonconforming People" (PDF). Archived from the original on 2012-05-23. Retrieved 2012-05-27.
- "Endocrine treatment of transsexual persons: an Endocrine Society clinical practice guideline". The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 94 (9): 3132–54. September 2009. PMID 19509099.
- "Spironolactone with physiological female steroids for presurgical therapy of male-to-female transsexualism". Archives of Sexual Behavior 18 (1): 49–57. February 1989. PMID 2540730.