Helpful Definitions

September 1, 2011

Aggressive (Ag): A term used to describe a female-bodied and -identified person who prefers presenting as masculine.

Agender (Also Non-gender): Not identifying with any gender, the feeling of having no gender.

Ally: Someone who advocates for and supports members of a community other than their own.

Androgynous: A person appearing neither traditionally masculine nor feminine in dress, appearance, or behavior.

Asexual: A person who is not sexually attracted to any gender.

Assigned Sex/Gender: The sex/gender one is assigned at birth, generally by a medical professional, based on a cursory examination of external genitalia.

Bigender: To identify as both genders and/or to have a tendency to move between masculine and feminine gender-typed behavior depending on context, expressing a distinctly male persona and a distinctly female persona, two separate genders in one body.

Binding: The process of flattening one’s breast tissue in order to create a male-appearing chest.

Bisexual: A person emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to males/men and females/women. This attraction does not have to be equally split between genders and there may be a preference for one gender over others.

Bottom Surgery: Surgery on the genitals designed to create a body in harmony with a person’s preferred gender expression.

Butch: A person who identifies themselves as masculine, whether it be physically, mentally or emotionally. Butch is sometimes used as a derogatory term for lesbians, but it can also be claimed as an affirmative identity label.

Cisgender: Someone who identifies with the gender and sex assigned at birth.

Crossdresser: Someone who wears clothes associated with another gender part of the time.

Drag King: Often female-identified person who dresses in stereotypically masculine drag and personifies stereotypically-male characteristics.

Drag Queen: Often male-identified person who dresses in feminine drag and personifies stereotypically-female characteristics.

Down Low (D/L): A term primarily used in homosexual/queer male communities of color, particularly those of Africana descent, denoting a lack of disclosure of homosexual desire, behavior, or identity.

Female-Bodied: A term used to recognize a person who was assigned a female sex at birth or who has a female body.

Femme: Feminine identified person of any gender/sex.

FTM or F2M (Female-to-Male): Term used to identify a person who was assigned a female gender at birth or is female-bodied, and who identifies as male, lives as a man, or identifies as masculine.

Gender Binary: An individual’s internal sense of being a man or a woman, or something more or different than those binary categories.

Gender-Confirming Surgery: Surgical procedures that change one’s body to conform to a person’s gender identity.

Gender Dysphoria: A term of the psychiatric establishment which refers to a radical incongruence between an individual’s birth sex and their gender identity combined with dissociation from one’s physical body and mental sense of gender. Many in the transgender community find this term offensive or insulting as it often pathologizes transgender individuals due to its association with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) and pathologization of gender non-conforming identities.

Gender Diverse (also Gender Variant): A person who either by nature or by choice does not conform to gender-based expectations of society.

Gender Dysphoria: A term of the psychiatric establishment which refers to a radical incongruence between an individual’s birth sex and their gender identity combined with dissociation from one’s physical body and mental sense of gender. Many in the transgender community find this term offensive or insulting as it often pathologizes transgender individuals due to its association with the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual (DSM) and pathologization of gender non-conforming identities.

Gender Expression: The way in which a person expresses gender identity, including through clothing, behavior, posture, mannerisms, speech patterns, and activities.

Gender Identity: An individual’s internal sense of being male, female, or something else.

Gender Identity Disorder (GID): Series of three diagnosis published in the American Psychological Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) originally called Transsexualism (1980) referring to gender non-conforming identities such as transgenderism. Gender Identity Disorders in Adolescents and Adults, Gender Identity Disorders in Children, and Transvestic Fetishism (TF).[3] GID is highly controversial due to the negative pathologization and personal limitations it places on access to physical transition resources and medical care.[4]

Gender Non-Conforming: A term often used to refer to the myriad of individuals who may not identify as transgender, but who do not conform to traditional gender norms.

Gender Neutral: Used to denote a unisex or all-gender inclusive space, language, etc. Example: A gender-neutral bathroom is a bathroom open to people of any gender identity and expression.

Gender Neutral Pronouns: See Third Gender Pronouns.

Gender Outlaw: A term popularized by trans activists such as Kate Bornstein and Leslie Feinberg, a gender outlaw refers to an individual who transgresses or violates the “law” of gender (i.e. one who challenges the rigidly enforced gender roles) in a transphobic, heterosexist and patriarchal society.

Gender Role: The behaviors, attitudes, values, beliefs etc. that a cultural group considers appropriate for males and females on the basis of their biological sex.

Genderqueer: A person whose gender identity is neither man nor woman, is between or beyond genders, or is some combination of genders. This identity is usually related to or in reaction to the social construction of gender, gender stereotypes and the gender binary system.

Gender Variant: See Gender Non-Conforming.

Heteronormativity: describes a binary gender system, in which only two sexes are accepted. Adherents of this normative concept maintain that one’s gender identity and one’s gender role ought to be congruent with one’s external genitalia, and that one ought to display a heterosexual sexual preference.

Heterosexism: Prejudice against individuals and groups who display non-heterosexual behaviors or identities, combined with the majority power to impose such a prejudice.

Hormone Therapy: Administration of hormones to affect the development of secondary sex characteristics of a different gender than the gender assigned at birth.

Intersex: A set of medical conditions where one is born with a variation in sex characteristics including chromosomes, gonads, or genitals that do not allow an individual to be distinctly identified as male or female. Such variation may involve genital ambiguity, and combinations of chromosomal genotype and sexual phenotype other than XY-male and XX-female.

Intergender: A person whose gender identity is between genders or a combination of genders.

Male-Bodied: A term used to recognize a person who was assigned a male sex at birth or who has a male body.

Metrosexual: First used in 1994 by British journalist Mark Simpson, who coined the term to refer to an urban, heterosexual male with a strong aesthetic sense who spends a great deal of time and money on his appearance and life style. This term can be perceived as derogatory because it reinforces stereotypes

that all gay men are fashion-conscious and materialistic.

MTF or M2F (Male-to-Female): Term used to identify a person who was assigned a male gender at birth or is male-bodied, and who identifies as female, lives as a woman, or identifies as feminine. Some reject this terminology, arguing that they have always been female where others feel that such language reinforces an either/or gender system.

Natal-female: A person who is born as the female sex.

Natal-male: A person who is born as the male sex.

Natal-sex: The sex of a person at birth (male, female, or intersexed).

Non-gendered: See Agender.

Outing: Involuntary disclosure of one’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or intersex status.

Packing: Wearing a phallic device or prosthesis on the groin and under clothing for any purpose.

Pangender:  A person whose gender identity is comprised of many gender expressions.

Pansexual: A person who has a potential emotional, physical, and/or sexual attraction to any person irrespective of sex or gender.

Passing: The ability to present oneself as any gender other than that assigned at birth and be accepted as such. Passing may refer to an individual’s desire or ability to be perceived as a member of a particular group.

Polygender: Identifying as more than one gender or a combination of genders.

Preferred Gender Pronouns (PGPs): In addition to he/she/him/her, there are several non-gender-specific pronouns that some people opt to use to describe themselves. “Hir” is used to replace “her” and “him.” “S/he” or “ze” is used instead of “he” and “she.” Singular-they pronouns (“they,” “them” and “their”) are also used as non-gender-specific pronouns.

Queer: 1) Originally used as a derogatory slur for “gay,” this word has been reclaimed by many people as a statement of empowerment. 2) An umbrella term to refer to those who feel outside the societal norms in regard to gender or sexuality. 3) A political statement, as well as a sexual orientation, which advocates breaking binary thinking and seeing both sexual orientation and gender identity as potentially fluid.

Same-Gender-Loving (SGL): A term that emerged in the early 1990’s with the intention of offering black women who love women and black men who love men a new and unique way of identifying.

Sex: The physically biological, chromosomal, and anatomical features associated with maleness and femaleness in the human body.

Sexual orientation: The direction of one’s sexual attraction. It is on a continuum and not a set of absolute categories.

Third-Gendered: People who feel they are neither male nor female, but not androgynous either and construct their own gender. The third gender may include (in Western terms) some intersex people, some transgender people, and some androgynous people.

Top Surgery: This term usually refers to surgery for the removal or construction of breasts.

Trans: Variant of transgender and/or transsexual sometimes preferable in gender-non-conforming communities because it focuses on the gender transgression of identity as opposed to focusing on the elements of gender or sex and because it does not separate transgender and transsexual.

Transgender: 1) An umbrella term covering behaviors, expressions and identities that challenge the binary male/female gender system in a given culture. 2) Individuals who change their gender expression without physically or medically changing their body through hormones or surgery. 3) Anyone who transcends the conventional definitions of ‘man’ and ‘woman’ and whose self-identification or expression challenges traditional notions of “male” and “female.”

Transition: A complicated, multi-step process that can take years as some transgender people align their anatomy with their sex identity and/or their gender expression with their gender identity.

Transmasculine: A gender-variant gender expression that has a prominent masculine component.

Transphobia: 1) The fear, hatred, or intolerance of people who identify or are perceived as transgender. 2) Fear and hatred of all those individuals who transgress, violate or blur the dominant gender categories in a given society.

Transsexual: A person whose gender identity is different from their assigned sex at birth who has taken any steps of physical transition so that their physical body is congruent to both their gender identity and the conventional concept of male and female bodies.

Two Spirit: A term for both same-gender-loving and transgender people that emerged from various Native American traditions.

*These definitions seek to help visitors navigate profiles on the site.  This is by no means a comprehensive list.