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Terminology

Terms to Know:

Transgender: adjective; the term transgender is a catch-all term referring to all gender variant people. This has nothing to do with sexual orientation.

Transsexual: adjective; the term used for people who do not identify as the sex they were assigned at birth. For example, someone who was assigned male but identifies as female.

Transvestite: adjective; the term for someone who identifies as the same sex as they were assigned at birth, but occasionally dresses as the opposite gender. For example, a person who was assigned male at birth, identifies as a male, and likes to wear women’s clothes on occasion. Sometimes referred to as a cross dresser. By psychiatric definition only men can be transvestites.

Drag Queen/Drag King: noun; a person who dresses as the opposite gender for a performance.

Trans*: adjectival prefix; the prefix trans is Latin and means across or beyond. Thus, a transsexual is someone whose identity is across from their assigned at birth gender. The asterisk implies the word has three possible endings (i.e. gender, sexual, vestite). Examples of proper usage are trans woman, trans man, or trans* person.

Cis: adjectival prefix; cis is a Latin prefix meaning on this side of. It is used to describe a person whose identified gender and assigned at birth gender match. Examples of proper usage are cis woman, cis man, or cis person.

MtF: adjectival phrase; male to female describes someone who transitions from male to female. Some trans women, myself included, prefer FtF (female to female) as a way of expressing she was always female and is just aligning her body to who she is.

FtM: adjectival phrase; female to male describes someone who transitions from female to male. Some trans men prefer the term MtM (male to male).

Gatekeeper: noun; a doctor or psychiatrist that controls who is and is not allowed to change their gender; the gatekeepers are typically white, cis males and they make it difficult for anyone to change their gender.

The Benjamin Standards of Care: noun; the rules that say who is allowed to change their gender and how they are required to do it. They are overly complex and discriminatory.

HRT: noun; Hormone Replacement Therapy is a method commonly used to transition in which a trans woman takes estrogen and blocks testosterone production or a trans man takes testosterone.

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