An incomplete guide to transgender terminology

Transgender person – an umbrella term meaning a person whose gender identity does not match the gender they were assigned at birth. ‘Trans’ is a prefix used in chemistry to mean ‘on the opposite side of’.

Cisgender person – a person whose gender identity matches the gender they were assigned at birth. ‘Cis’ is a prefix used in chemistry to mean ‘on the same side of’.

Trans – an abbreviation of transgender.

Cis – an abbreviation of cisgender.

AMAB person – a person who was assigned male at birth.

AFAB person – a person who was assigned female at birth.

Trans man – a person who was AFAB but identifies as male.

Trans woman – a person who was AMAB but identifies as female.

Gender binary – the idea that there is a binary of simply ‘male’ and ‘female’ and nothing in between.

Gender spectrum – the idea that gender is like a line that goes from male to female with lots of other genders in between.

Non-binary person – someone who identifies outside of the gender binary.

Genderqueer person – an umbrella term for a person who identifies as neither male nor female. Some identities that fall under the genderqueer umbrella are agender, bigender and genderfluid. Sometimes conflated with non-binary.

Intersex person – someone whose chromosomes are neither XX or XY.

Pronouns – the words we use to replace a person’s name when we talk about them; i.e. he/him/his and she/her/hers.

Transition – the process of moving from navigating the world as one’s assigned gender to navigating the world as the gender identified with. Transition can be social, hormonal, or surgical. Transition is NOT necessary for a trans person to be recognised as the gender they identify with.

Misgendering – using the wrong pronouns for a transgender (or cisgender) person.

Dead name – a person’s ‘old name’, usually the one they were given at birth, if they have changed their name. Never ask a transgender person what their dead name was.

FTM person – ‘female to male’ – a trans man.

MTF person – ‘male to female’ – a trans woman.

Cross-dresser – a person who dresses in the clothing of the ‘opposite’ gender to the one they identify with, but who does not identify with the gender normally assigned to that type of clothing.

Transvestite – an older term for a cross-dresser. Neither is the same as being transgender.