Vocab List

Trans* / Transgender

(1) An umbrella term covering a range of identities that transgress socially defined gender norms.
(2) A person who expresses or identifies as a gender other than that expected based on sex assigned at birth. People may identify with a particular descriptive term (see below).


(adj) a person whose gender identity and biological sex assigned at birth align (e.g., man and male-assigned)

General Terms:

Biological Sex

(noun) a medical term used to refer to the chromosomal, hormonal and anatomical characteristics that are used to classify an individual as female or male or intersex. Often abbreviated to simply “sex”.


The prefix ‘Cis’ is of Latin origin, meaning “on the same side as or of” therefor someone who is cisgender has a conception of their gender concept /gender identity matches the gender they were assigned at birth. Cisgender is the opposite of transgender/trans*. “Cisgender” is preferred to terms like “biological”, “genetic”, or “real” male or female.


(noun) the assumption, in individuals or in institutions, that everyone is cisgender, and that cisgender identities are superior to trans* identities or people. Leads to invisibility of non-cisgender identities.

Gender Expression

(noun) the external display of one’s gender, through a combination of dress, demeanor, social behavior, and other factors, generally measured on scales of masculinity and femininity.

Gender Identity

(noun) the internal perception of an one’s gender, and how they label themselves, based on how much they align or don’t align with what they understand their options for gender to be. Common identity terms include man, woman, and genderqueer.

Gender Normative / Gender Straight

(adj) someone whose gender presentation, whether by nature or by choice, aligns with society’s gender-based expectations.

Gender Binary

(noun) the idea that there are only two genders – male/female or man/woman and that a person must be strictly gendered as either/or.


is the act of attributing a person to a gender they do not identify as. So if you were to call someone a man but they were in fact non-binary, you would have misgendered them. You can cut down on misgendering people by trying to not practice gender attribution, and by asking people their preferred pronouns and terms when appropriate.

Transition / Transitioning

(noun & verb) this term is primarily used to refer to the process a trans* person undergoes when changing their bodily appearance either to be more congruent with the gender/sex they feel themselves to be and/or to be in harmony with their preferred gender expression.


(noun) the fear of, discrimination against, or hatred of trans* people, the trans* community, or gender ambiguity. Transphobia can be seen within the queer community, as well as in general society.

Trans women:

Male Assigned At Birth (MAAB) / Assigned Male At Birth (AMAB)

terms refer to what gender you were assigned at birth (in this case male, thus you are expected to be a boy/man), and are important because many trans* people use them as a way to talk about their gender identity without being pinned down to more essentialist narratives about their “sex” or what gender they “used to be”.


abbreviation from male-to-female transgender person.

Trans woman

(noun) an identity label sometimes adopted by male-to-female transgender people to signify that they are women while still affirming their history as males.


(adj) a MAAB trans* person who identifies more with a female and/or feminine identity/experience. This word is also sometimes used as an umbrella term for most or all MAAB trans* people, however this is problematic as not all MAAB trans* people are feminine identified.


(noun) is originally coined by the author Julia Serano, this term highlights the intersectionality of misogyny and transphobia and how they are often experienced as a dual form of oppression by trans* women and some other MAAB trans* people.

Trans men:

Female Assigned At Birth (FAAB) / Assigned Female At Birth (AFAB)

refer to what gender you were assigned at birth (in this case female, thus you are expected to be a girl/woman), and are important because many trans* people use them as a way to talk about their gender identity without being pinned down to more essentialist narratives about their “sex” or what gender they “used to be”.


abbreviation for female-to-male transgender person.

Trans man / Trans guy

(noun) is an identity label sometimes adopted by female-to-male transgender people to signify that they are men while still affirming their history as females.


(adj) a FAAB trans* person who identifies more with a male and/or masculine identity/experience. This word is also sometimes used as an umbrella term for most or all FAAB trans* people, however this is problematic as not all FAAB trans* people are masculine identified.

Gender non-conforming people:


(adj) an identity that is neither a man nor a woman. (adj) not having any gender.


(adj) a gender identity that can overlap with an androgynous gender expression but not always. Androgynes may define their identity in a variety of ways, feeling as if they are between man and woman or a totally separate identity.

Androgyny / Androgynous

(adj) (1) a gender expression that has elements of both masculinity and femininity.
(adj) (2) occasionally used in place of “intersex” to describe a person with both female and male anatomy.


(adj) a person who fluctuates between traditionally “woman” and “man” gender-based behavior and identities, identifying with both genders (and sometimes a third gender).

Gender Fluid

(adj) gender fluid is a gender identity best described as a dynamic mix of boy and girl. A person who is gender fluid may always feel like a mix of the two traditional genders, but may feel more man some days, and more woman other days. They may feel that their gender is constantly changing or switching back and forth between genders.


is the act of messing with gendered expectations on purpose; the intentional crossing, mixing, and blending of gender-specific signals. This can also be a term used to describe one’s gender.


(adj) is a term very similar to agender but sometimes with more of a focus on not having a gender.

Gender Non-conforming

(adj) is a catch-all term for gender identities other than man and woman, thus outside of the gender binary and cisnormativity (sometimes referred to as non-binary). People who identify as genderqueer may think of themselves as one or more of the following:
• both man and woman (bigender, pangender);
• neither man nor woman (genderless, agender, neutrois, androgyne, non-binary, genderfuck, genderqueer);
• moving between genders (genderfluid);
• third gender or other-gendered; includes those who do not place a name to their gender


(adj) is used as an umbrella term for all people who queer gender, as a somewhat similar term to gender nonconforming, or as a specific non-binary gender identity. As an umbrella term is can include gender nonconforming people, non-binary people, and much more. As a specific identity it can generally be understood as a gender that is neither man nor woman, possible in between the two or seen as a totally separate gender altogether.

Gender Variant

(adj) someone who either by nature or by choice does not conform to gender-based expectations of society (e.g. transgender, intersex, genderqueer, etc.).


is an identity generally having to do with feeling one does not have a gender, a gender identity, or a defined gender. Some people who identify as neutrois also identify as agender or genderless, and some neutrois people desire to minimize their physical gender markers and to have a more gender-neutral appearance.


people are those who identify as a gender that is neither man nor woman or who are not men or women exclusively. Non-binary can refer to a specific gender identity or it can function as an umbrella term which can include (though not always) people who are genderqueer, agender, bigender, neutrois, and others.


(adj) a person who feels they are two, three, or all genders. They may shift between these genders or be all of them at the same time.


(adj) used as an umbrella term to describe individuals who identify as non-straight. Also used to describe people who have non-normative gender identity or as a political affiliation. Due to its historical use as a derogatory term, it is not embraced or used by all members of the LGBTQ community. The term queer can often be use interchangeably with LGBTQ.

Third gender

in some cultures third (and fourth and so on) genders may be commonly accepted alongside man and woman. Some people in western cultures may identify as third gender as well, however it’s important not to erase the multitudes of genders present in the world.

They / Them

alternate pronouns that are gender neutral and preferred by some trans* people. Some people who are not comfortable/do not embrace he/she use the plural pronoun “they / their / them” as a gender neutral singular pronoun.

Two Spirit

(noun) is an umbrella term traditionally used by Native American people to recognize individuals who possess qualities or fulfill roles of both genders.

Ze / Hir

alternate pronouns that are gender neutral and preferred by some trans* people. Pronounced /zee/ and /here/ they replace “he” and “she” and “his” and “hers” respectively.

Outdated Terms:

Please do not use the following terms (unless someone tells you that they identify this way).

  • Hermaphrodite
  • Transsexual
  • Transvestite

More terms:


is erasing, ignoring or expressing hate towards people who identify outside of the gender binary. Also supporting the incorrect idea that the only legitimate genders are man and woman, and ignoring all others.

Bottom Surgery

are a variety of gender-related surgeries dealing with genitalia. They can include: vaginoplasty, phalloplasty, vaginectomy, metoidoplasty, orchidectomy, scrotoplasty and others.


(adj) an individual who is not open to themselves or others about their (queer) sexuality or gender identity. This may be by choice and/or for other reasons such as fear for one’s safety, peer or family rejection or disapproval and/or loss of housing, job, etc. Also known as being “in the closet.” When someone chooses to break this silence they “come out” of the closet. See coming out.

Coming Out

(1) the process by which one accepts and/or comes to identify one’s own sexuality or gender identity (to “come out” to oneself).
(2) The process by which one shares one’s sexuality or gender identity with others (to “come out” to friends, etc.).

Drag King

(noun) someone who performs masculinity theatrically.

Drag Queen

(noun) someone who performs femininity theatrically.


(noun) is unhappiness, sadness, or depression experienced due to all or some gendered aspects of one’s body, or in response to social misgendering. Some trans* people experience dysphoria while others do not.

Full Time

is living as and attempting to pass as your true gender identity one hundred percent of the time. This term is problematic to some because it can put a lot of the focus on the physical aspects of trans* identity and ignore the processes many people go through to accept themselves and to come out if they choose to.

Gender Dysphoria

In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association released the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) which replaced the outdated entry “Gender Identity Disorder” with Gender Dysphoria, and changed the criteria for diagnosis. The necessity of a psychiatric diagnosis remains controversial, as both psychiatric and medical authorities recommend individualized medical treatment through hormones and/or surgeries to treat gender dysphoria. Some transgender advocates believe the inclusion of Gender Dysphoria in the DSM is necessary in order to advocate for health insurance that covers the medically necessary treatment recommended for transgender people.

Harry Benjamin Standards of Care

are a set of ethical guidelines published by the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association concerning the care of patients with gender identity disorders. These can be found at: http://www.wpath.org


(adj) someone whose combination of chromosomes, gonads, hormones, internal sex organs, and genitals differs from the two expected patterns of male or female. Formerly known as hermaphrodite (or hermaphroditic), but these terms are now considered outdated and derogatory.


(verb) involuntary or unwanted disclosure of another person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or intersex status.


(verb) (1) a term for trans* people being accepted as, or able to “pass for,” a member of their self- identified gender/sex identity (regardless of birth sex). (2) An LGB/queer individual who can is believed to be or perceived as straight.


(verb, adjective) an individual who is unsure about or is exploring their own sexual orientation or gender identity.

Sex Reassignment Surgery / SRS

A term used by some medical professionals to refer to a group of surgical options that alter a person’s biological sex. In most cases, one or multiple surgeries are required to achieve legal recognition of gender variance.


is to live as the gender you identify as but to not be out as trans*, so it means passing as cisgender. Often people go stealth for safety reasons or so that they can have things like job and home security, something a lot of trans* people don’t have.

Top Surgery

(noun) this term refers to surgery for the construction of a male-type chest or breast augmentation for a female-type chest.

Thanks to The Safe Zone Project, the GLAAD Media Reference Guide, and the Ohio University LGBT Center