Ronen’s Trans Glossary

Every trans-related blog worth its salt needs one.

This is not a fully comprehensive glossary. If something comes up the future that I think needs to be on here, I’ll backtrack and edit this post, and if anyone out there has questions, feel free to ask. If you’re interested in something that goes into even more depth than this, I urge you to check out Erin Houdini’s Really Awesome Trans Glossary, but the terms listed below should be enough to get you by on this particular blog.

If you’re reading these terms for the first time, I present to you a little exercise:

“Ronen is a genderqueer person whose preferred pronouns are neutral pronouns. Ze was AFAB but does not identify as FtM, because ze is not binary-identified. Ze identifies more as genderfluid, and hir presentation is a kind of femme masculinity. Ze is still in the early stages of hir transition. Hir fiancé John was AMAB and is cisgender, but their relationship is far from heteronormative despite the fact that Ronen was AFAB.”

Ready? Trans-late! (ba-dum-CHSS)


AFAB / AMAB acronyms. Stands for, respectively, “Assigned Female at Birth” and “Assigned Male at Birth.” This refers only to the sex a person was declared upon birth, not their gender or sexual identity.

binary-identified adj. Used for a person who identifies exclusively as a boy or girl, man or woman. Trans people can be binary-identified as well as cis people.

bind v. The act of compressing one’s breasts to achieve a masculine-looking chest. Usually employed by AFAB trans and genderqueer people.

body dysphoria n. The feeling that one’s body is not the way that it should be.

butch adj. Possessing a stereotypically masculine quality. Also n. a person with a butch presentation.

cis prefix. or adj. The opposite of trans. A cisgender person is someone comfortable with the gender they were assigned at birth; likewise a cissexual person does not want and does not seek surgery or hormone treatment to change their biological makeup. Cis may also be used on its own as an adjective (cis man/cis woman), in the same way that trans is sometimes used.

come out v. To declare one’s identity publicly. A term widely used in the LGBTQ community.

cross-dress v. To wear the clothes of the opposite gender. A cis woman is cross-dressing if she wears men’s clothing; likewise a trans woman is also cross-dressing if she wears men’s clothing regardless of her state of transition.

drag n. Exaggerated, theatrical gender expression. Usually involves cross-dressing, but not in all cases.

FtM / MtF acronym. Respectively, Female-to-Male and Male-to-Female. Describes both a person’s assigned-at-birth gender and their actual gender. Some trans people object to this phrasing as it implies they are not real men or women. It is not advisable to use these unless a person has explicitly identified themselves as FtM or MtF. “Trans man” or “trans woman” are safer.

femme adj. Possessing a stereotypically feminine quality. Also n. a person with a femme presentation.

gender binary n. The idea that there are only two genders, man and woman. Many trans people, even if they are binary-identified, see this idea as outdated or wrongheaded.

gender dysphoria n. The anxiety caused by being perceived as the wrong gender. See also “social dysphoria.”

genderqueer adj. Umbrella term meaning “not binary-identified.” A genderqueer person might be neither a man nor a woman, might be a blend of genders, might have multiple genders, or might have no gender at all. Other, more specific genderqueer terms are “genderfluid,” “bigender,” “third gender,” “androgyne,” “agender” or “neutrois.”

heteronormative adj. Relating to the stereotypical dynamics between heterosexual men and women. Also n. “Heteronormativity.”

LGBTQ acronym. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Queer.

misgender v. To label someone as the wrong gender, whether accidentally or intentionally.

neutral pronouns Pronouns that are neither “he” nor “she,” usually used by genderqueer people. “They/them/theirs” is one set of neutral pronouns, another is “ze/hir/hirs.” There are others, but these are the most common two.

pansexual adj. Attracted to people of any and all genders. This term is similar to bisexual, but recognizes that there are more than two genders.

pass v. To be perceived as a particular thing.

preferred pronouns n. The pronouns a person most likes to be referred to by.

presentation n. The outward performance of a gender. Also v. “to present.”

queer adj. A word with several potential meanings, but generally understood to be an umbrella term for anyone who rejects or exists outside of mainstream sexual and/or gender conventions. Was originally a slur, but has since been reclaimed by some members of the community. In some cases represents a political ideology which involves deliberate rejection of all things heteronormative.

social dysphoria n. Much like gender dysphoria, this is the anxiety caused by being treated a certain way because one is perceived as something they are not.

trans prefix. or adj. Shorthand for “transgender” and/or “transsexual.” Used in the same way as cis.

transgender adj. Describes a person whose gender is different from the one they were assigned at birth.

transition n. The process of asserting one’s gender outwardly. This may involve changing one’s name, preferred pronouns, clothing styles, haircut, style of speech, physical movements, and any number of other things in order to overcome social and gender dysphoria. In cases of transsexual folks, this may also involve taking hormones and undergoing surgery. Also v. “to transition.”

transphobia n. Similar to homophobia, transphobia is the fear and/or mistrust of trans people and concepts, or the idea that non-trans, heteronormative, cis people and concepts are inherently superior. Also adj. “transphobic.”

transsexual adj. Describes a person who is undergoing or seeks to undergo hormone treatment and/or surgery to change their biological makeup.


Posted on March 27, 2011, in Trans, Trans Glossary and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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