Glossary: Transgender and gender-diverse terminology


Rainbow flags, a symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and queer pride and LGBT social movements, are seen outside the Stonewall Monument in New York City on June 7, 2022. – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month is celebrated in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP) (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

(NewsNation) — Below is a list of terms from NewsNation’s series on transgender issues.

The definitions have been sourced from Johns Hopkins Medicine and GLAAD, both of which have comprehensive glossaries of terms on their respective websites linked above.

Terms have been listed in alphabetical order.

Assigned sex at birth: The sex (male or female) assigned to a child at birth, most often based on the child’s external anatomy. Also referred to as birth sex, natal sex, biological sex or sex.

Cisgender: A term for people whose gender identity generally matches the gender assigned for their physical sex. In other words, someone who does not identify as transgender. The word is derived from the Latin root “cis” meaning “on this side.”

FTM: Female-to-male transgender person. Sometimes identifies as a transgender man. Someone assigned the female gender at birth who identifies on the male spectrum.

Gender affirming: Adjective used to refer to behaviors or interventions that affirm a transgender person’s gender identity (e.g., a physician using cross-sex hormones for a transgender patient may be called gender affirming, as can the use of a correctly gendered pronoun).

Genderqueer and/or nonbinary: People whose gender identity and/or gender expression falls outside the binary categories of man and woman. They may define their gender as falling somewhere in between man and woman, or they may define it as outside of these terms. Nonbinary can be shortened to enby.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT): The process in which transgender people choose to take a prescription of synthetic hormones. For transgender women, that may include estrogen (E) as well as testosterone blockers. For transgender men, this would include testosterone (T).

LGBTQIA+: Abbreviation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual. An umbrella term that is used to refer to the community as a whole. Often shortened to LGBTQ+, but not as a means to exclude other identities. The “+” acknowledges the diversity of identities, orientations, and expressions of the LGBTQIA+ community that are not named in the acronym.

MTF: Male-to-female transgender person. Sometimes known as a transgender woman. Someone assigned the male gender at birth who identifies on the female spectrum.

Transgender: An umbrella term for people whose gender identity does not match the sex they were assigned at birth. Transgender people may identify as straight, gay, bisexual or some other sexual orientation.

Transition: An individualized process in which transgender people move from living aligned with the sex they were assigned at birth to living aligned with their held gender identity. There are three general aspects to transitioning: social (e.g., presentation, relationships, employment, names/pronouns); medical (e.g., hormones, surgery, mental health) and legal (e.g., changing gender marker and name on legal documents and identification). Each person’s transition path is unique.

GLAAD also defines the following aspects of transitioning:

  • Social transition – Telling family, friends, and co-workers, using a different name, using different pronouns, dressing differently, starting or stopping wearing make-up and jewelry, etc
  • Legal transition – Changing your name and/or sex marker on documents like a driver’s license, passport, Social Security record, bank accounts, etc.
  • Medical transition – Hormone replacement therapy and/or one or more surgical procedures.

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