The Basics:

Assigned Sex: Your sex recorded at the time of your birth, usually based on external genitalia (Remember when they smacked your ass and said “It’s a…!” yeah, that.)  This is something that is done to us that will dictate the rest of our lives; it’s usually based off one single factor alone, long before we have our own opinions or say in the matter.

Binding: When a person who has boobies wears a tight shirt, sports bra, or tank top (or sometimes ace bandage – however, this is really dangerous and shouldn’t  be done) to smush down the boobies and cultivate the appearance of a flat chest on the outside of their clothes. (See my post on binding for more info)

Binary Gender System: Think “two gender system.”  In our society most people are born with either a penis or vagina, thus categorizing them within either the gender of “male” or “female.” This creates a challenge for folks (and there are lots of them) who don’t fit in a “one or the other” category.

Bottom Surgery: Surgery that transgender/transsexual people pursue to change their genetalia into that of the opposite biology. For male-to-female individuals (MTF) there is usually one standard surgery called a vaginoplasty in which the penis is basically inverted to make a vaginal cavity and a clitoris is created from existing tissue.  For female-to-male individuals (MTF) there is a phalloplasty, in which skin is usually grafted from somewhere else on the body, cut off and rolled into a tube that becomes the penis and attached to the pubic area and the urethra is run through. The testes are created from the labia.  Both surgeries are extremely expensive and dangerous, especially the FTM phalloplasty.  For FTM’s, often times the surgery leads to multiple infections and is usually sexually ineffective.  Most FTMs, if they opt for surgery at all (which a lot don’t), will get another procedure called the Centurion, in which a muscle in the clitoris is snipped, allowing it to grow and extend to look like a small penis.  At this point some FTMs might also get testes made from their labia with this procedure.

Female-Bodied: An individual who, when naked, is biologically female, although their gender identity might be something different.  Example: “The person was female-bodied but I think they identified as a transman.”

FTM: A female-to-male transgender individual, or a person who used to identify as female, but now identifies as male, regardless of surgery status.

Gender: Gender is a combination of what we’re assigned at birth, the role we are expected to play, the identity we feel truly within ourselves, and how we express that externally. For example, I identify as transgender/genderqueer – I was born female, expected to be womanly, but I truly feel that I am somewhere in between, and I express that by living physically as a transman.

Gender Expression: How we express our gender through dress, mannerisms, activities, etc.

Gender Identity:The gender, or lack of gender, we feel we truly are, regardless of biology or perceived roles.

Gender Role: A set of characteristics society has conveniently set up for us and deemed that we must follow based on our assigned sex.  Example: women are dainty, men are aggressive.

Gender Variant/Gender Queer: Individuals whose gender does not fit within male or female, or maybe feel that they have no sense of gender.

Heteronormative:  The opposite of queer. A person or group of people who effortlessly fit into their gender roles and stereotypes, while maintaining their heterosexual sexuality. A blonde, thin, white, attractive cheerleader dating the high school quarterback would be an example of a heteronormative person.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): A process that a transgender person goes through, guided by an endocrinologist, in which they are administered doses of hormones relating to the opposite gender in order to take on secondary sex characteristics of that gender (facial hair, breasts, deeper voice, etc.).

Intersex:  An individual born with full or partial genitalia of both genders, or with underdeveloped or ambiguous genitalia.  Also individuals born with other biological differences like chromosomes, hormones, etc. The national Intersex Society of North America estimates that 1 in 100 people biologically deviate in some way from standard male or female.

MTF: A male-to-female transgender individual who was born male, but now identifies as female.

Male-Bodied: A person who has male biology (whether born with it or surgically altered) when they’re naked.

Passing: A term that some transgender individuals use to express that they’re being completely read as their target gender.

Pronoun: A word used to replace a proper noun. He/his/him/she/her/hers/it/they/their are pronouns. Example: Rae (proper noun) is nice, he (pronoun) gave me a hug. Pronouns become an issue for transgender people, because when we change genders, we also change pronouns. This is often the most frustrating change for transgender individuals and their families/loved ones.

Queer: A former slur that has been “taken back” by the LGBT community.  The term literally means “weird” and a queer person is someone, who regardless of biology, gender, or sexual attraction, does not fit inside the heterosexual norms and stereotypes.  It is possible for a “straight” person to identify as queer because they don’t feel they fit in with traditional gender role stereotypes.

Secondary Sex Characteristics: Changes that occur when your body starts producing or receiving male or female hormones.  The changes include but are not limited to: facial hair, voice changes, breast and fatty tissue growth, and reproductive abilities.

Target Sex/Gender: The gender identity and/or sexual biology that a transgender person is presenting as or transitioning toward

Top Surgery/Chest Surgery: When a FTM transgender individual has his breasts removed to permanently have a flat, biologically male-looking chest. Some MTF (male-to-female) individuals may also get breast enhancement/augmentation surgery, also sometimes known as top surgery.

Transgender: An umbrella term that encompasses a variety of gender variant identities.

Transition: The process of changing from one gender to another.  Doesn’t necessarily involve surgery, but almost always involves at least coming out, sometimes a name change, a gender marker change on important documents, etc.

Transsexual: A person who has completed surgery or wishes to complete surgery to of the opposite biology they were born with.

Transman: A transgender or transsexual man (a person who once identified as a woman and now identifies as a man)

Transphobia: The fear and misunderstanding surrounding transsexuality and gender variance, that can, and often does, lead to violence or homicide.

Transwoman: A transgender or transsexual woman (a person who once identified as a man and now identifies as a woman).

Further Defintions:

Androgynous: When someone’s (or something, as objects tend to be gendered too!) gender is ambiguous; it’s hard to tell if they’re male or female

Asexual: A person does not possess any desire for sex or does not feel sexually attracted to others (which is different from abstinence/celibacy, because those are choices made among people who are interested in sex)

Bisexual: A person who is emotionally, spiritually, physically and/or sexually attracted to men and women.

Boi: A term used a lot in the LGBT community to define a young butch lesbian who dresses like a boy, or a young gay guy who is sexual with older men.

Bottom: A nickname for a person who enjoys the receptive/submissive role in sexual play.  The person being the penetrative/dominate person in sex would be the Top, and some people are Versatile, meaning they like be top and bottom!  These terms do tend to lean toward meaning who likes to get penetrated, but that’s not necessarily always the case.

Butch/Femme: Words used to describe masculine or feminine appearing folks (can be applied to anyone: men, women or transgender people)

Coming Out: A major step in a transgender or lesbian, gay, bisexual person’s life in which they tell some, all, or a very select few of the people in their life about their sexuality and/or gender identity.

Crossdresser/Transvestite: A person, regardless of sexuality, who enjoys part time dressing in clothes reserved only for the other gender.

Drag King/Queen: When a man or woman dresses in clothes for the opposite gender, usually as part of a flamboyant, outlandish performance.

Dyke: A slur that some lesbians have “taken back” as a power term to define their sexual identity.

Fag/Faggot: A slur still very much used in pop culture.  Some gay men have “taken back” the term and use it freely to define their sexual identity.

Gay: A person who is emotionally, spiritually, physically and/or sexually attracted to members of the same gender.  A person who accepts their same gender attraction identifies as gay (although men primarily use this term).

Gender Dysphoria: The diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders that psychiatric professionals use to diagnose transsexuals who seek hormones and/or surgery to alter their biology to be as close as possible to that of their target gender.

Gender Fuck: A person who deliberately mixes and mashes gender signals to essentially say “fuck you” to society’s gender rules.

Gender Reassignment Surgery (GRS): Permanent surgical refashioning of genitalia.  This is usually a lengthy, expensive, dangerous process that requires a psychiatric diagnosis before it can be done.

He/She: A mixing of pronouns some people of gender variance use to identify themselves.

Heterosexual: A person who is emotionally, spiritually, physically and/or sexually attracted primarily to the opposite gender.

Hir: An alternative pronoun to him/her for people who don’t feel male or female.  Example: Did you get hir a gift for hir birthday?!

Homophobia: The irrational fear of love, affection and erotic behavior between two people of the same gender.  Often times people who are presenting outside the gender norms are targets for homophobia because society often assumes that because someone is gender variant they are gay.

Homosexual: A person who is attracted emotionally, spiritually, physically and/or sexually to a person of the same gender.

Lesbian: A woman who is spiritually, emotionally, physically and/or sexually attracted to women.

No-Ho: A transgender person who lives fultime as a different gender than they were born as, but does not use hormones to achieve this identity.

Packing: When a person without a penis stuffs a synthetic one, a rolled up sock, their roommates cat – whatever – in their pants to appear that they have a penis.  Sometimes butch lesbians do this as an accessory for a night out, and some transgender individuals do this every day.

Pansexual: A person who is emotionally, spiritually, physically and/or sexually attracted to people of any gender or physical makeup.

Pre-Operative (Pre-Op): Transsexual individuals who have not had gender reassignment surgery, but wish to in the future.  They may or may not take hormones.

Post-Operative (Post-Op): Transsexuals who have had gender reassignment surgery(ies).

Presentation: The totality of one’s appearance including dress, voice, behavior, etc.

Real Life Test: A portion of time that a person must live as their target gender in order to be qualified for sex reassignment surgery as dictated by the national standards for transgender health.

Sex: The act of being intimate with another person, or a word used to describe the biology of males and females.

SOFFA: Significant Others, Friends, Families and Allies of an LGBT person

WPATH: The World Professional Association of Transgender Health.  This is the organization that, in the United States, sets the standards of care for health professionals to follow regarding transgender health and wellness (most importantly, surgery and hormones). Formerly the Harry Benjamin Standards of Care.

Ze: An alternative pronoun to he and she.  Example: Ze just got a new car!


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