It’s 2020 and it’s time for an all-inclusive community sans bias of race, gender, colour or sexual orientation. Yes we said and while we are at it, let’s clear the air about a few terminologies that will help us in understanding the transgender community better. While we are ready to embrace our peers, a lot of ignorance, mystery and curiosity still surrounds them and many times we may be too embarrassed to ask. When addressing someone from the community, it is best to ask what term and pronoun they prefer, so they can be addressed with that. Let’s earn a few transgender terminologies as defined by glaad.org to get a better understanding and insight.
The classification of people as male or female. At birth infants are assigned a sex, usually based on the appearance of their external anatomy.
One’s internal, deeply held sense of one’s gender. For transgender people, their own internal gender identity does not match the sex they were assigned at birth.
Describes an individual’s enduring physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction to another person. Gender identity and sexual orientation are not the same. Transgender people may be straight, lesbian, gay, or bisexual. For example, a person who transitions from male to female and is attracted solely to men would identify as a straight woman.
An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from what is typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth. People under the transgender umbrella may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms – including transgender. Many transgender people are prescribed hormones by their doctors to change their bodies. Some undergo surgery as well. But not all transgender people can or will take those steps, and a transgender identity is not dependent upon medical procedures.
An older term that originated in the medical and psychological communities. Still preferred by some people who have permanently changed – or seek to change – their bodies through medical interventions (including but not limited to hormones and/or surgeries). Unlike transgender, transsexual is not an umbrella term. Many transgender people do not identify as transsexual and prefer the word transgender. It is best to ask which term an individual prefers.
Transgender man or Female-to-male (FTM):
People who were assigned female at birth but identify and live as a man may use this term to describe themselves. They may shorten it to trans man. (Note: trans man, not “transman.”) Some may prefer to simply be called men, without any modifier
Transgender woman or Male-to-female (MTF):
People who were assigned male at birth but identify and live as a woman may use this term to describe themselves. They may shorten to trans woman.
People who are non-binary do not have a gender identity which is either male or female. There are many sub-groups who identify within the non-binary classification. These might be (some of these terms overlap or might be the same but some people prefer one over the other)
- Agender (not having a gender)
- Bigender (having two genders)
- Gender fluid
- Demi boy
- Demi girl
While anyone may wear clothes associated with a different sex, the term cross-dresser is typically used to refer to heterosexual men who occasionally wear clothes, makeup, and accessories culturally associated with women.
Drag Queens are men, typically gay men, who dress like women for the purpose of entertainment. Be aware of the differences between transgender women, cross-dressers, and drag queens. Use the term preferred by the individual. Do not use the word “transvestite” at all, unless someone specifically self-identifies that way.
Altering one’s birth sex is not a one-step procedure; it is a complex process that occurs over a long period of time. Transition includes some or all of the following personal, medical, and legal steps: telling one’s family, friends, and co-workers; using a different name and new pronouns; dressing differently; changing one’s name and/or sex on legal documents; hormone therapy; and possibly (though not always) one or more types of surgery. The exact steps involved in transition vary from person to person. Avoid the phrase “sex change.”
Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS):
Refers to doctor-supervised surgical interventions, and is only one small part of transition (see transition above). Not all transgender people choose to, or can afford to, undergo medical surgeries. Journalists should avoid overemphasizing the role of surgeries in the transition process. Some people prefer the term Gender Reassignment Surgery (GRS).
Discomfort or distress related to incongruence between a person’s gender identity, sex assigned at birth, gender identity, and/or primary and secondary sex characteristics. Cisgender is the term to describe a person whose gender identity and gender expression align with sex assigned at birth A cisgender person who supports and advocates for TGNC people and/or communities is called an ally. Be an ally to make this world an all-inclusive place with love and acceptance for everyone.