​​​​There is a great deal of confusion about what it means to be transgender. The lack of understanding and misinformation, has lead some people to fear our community and at times demonstrate anger and hostility. Our community is by no means the first to face the challenges of discrimination. We invite the reader to take a few minutes to find out what being transgendered is and is not.

One of the common misconceptions is that sexual orientation is the same as gender-role or gender identity. There are at least three distinct parts to our sexuality that usually come in predictable combinations.

First, there are our physical body parts, our sex.

Second is our sexual orientation, meaning who we are attracted to,
be it the opposite sex, same sex, or both.

Third is our gender, who we are in our mind. We would like you to use the gender pronouns of our chosen gender.  It is important to remember that a trans person can be Male to Female (M2F), or Female to Male(F2M), masculine to feminine (MTF) or feminine to masculine (FTM).  Non-Binary people can experience both male and female gender simultaneously, or neither gender,  or can be gender fluid where they can feel male, female, or some combination at different times.

The following is a listing of terms familiar to the transgender community. 

TRANSGENDER - An encompassing term or umbrella phrase for anyone who does not identify with their Assigned Sex.

ASSIGNED SEX What a doctor determines our physical sex to be at the time of birth.

GENDER - Regardless of a person’s Assigned Sex, gender refers to their self identity of being male, female or Non-Binary. While usually a person’s Gender matches their Assigned Sex, this is not the case for a Transgender person..

TRANS MAN - A terms that describes a person who was assigned female at birth, but who’s gender is male and identifies as male.

TRANS WOMAN - A terms that describes a person who was assigned male at birth, but who’s gender is female and identifies as female.

NON-BINARY - Terms to describe someone who does not identify with the Gender Binary or solely as male or female. Such an individual may experience both male and female gender simultaneously, OR .neither male or female gender, OR can fluctuate back and forth between male and female gender.

CIS GENDER - While this is not a transgender term, it is a term that the transgender used to describe people who are NOT transgender by any definition in terms. In other words, someone whose Gender Identity matches their Assigned Sex.

INTERSEX - A person born with aspects of “both” sexes, including, but not limited to, chromosomes (XXY, XYY, XXYY, XY, XX), genitalia, gonads (ovaries, testes) hormones, etc. An Intersex person may or may not identify as transgender.

CROSS-DRESSER (CD) - A person who experiences an emotional and/or sexual reward from dressing in a manor opposite of their Assigned Sex. This person may or may not identify as Transgender depending on their motivation.

DRAG QUEEN or DRAG KING - Usually understood to be a gay person who dresses in a manor opposite of their Assigned Sex, but as an impersonation, high camp or entertainment. While most Drag Queens and Kings do not identify as Transgender, some do.

TRANS - An abbreviated form describing a Trans Man or Trans Woman.

MTF (male to female); FTM (female to male)

TRANSSEXUAL A term now fading from common use used to describe a Trans Man or Trans Woman.
GENDERQUEER - A gender identity which refers to a gender which varies over time. A gender fluid person may at any time identify as male, female, or any non-binary identity, or some combination of identities. Their gender identity can vary at random or in response to different circumstances.

SEX REASSIGNMENT SURGERY - Also called gender reassignment surgery (GRS) by some physicians, this may include a surgery to alter the appearance of a person’s sexual parts to alter the male genitalia into female and female genitalia into male. Important note: It is thought at this time that most Transgender people will by choice, or circumstance, never pursue or receive Sexual Reassignment Surgery. This may change in the future.

PRE– OP - A Transgender person who has not yet had a form of sex reassignment surgery, but may already be on body altering hormones.

POST - OP - A Transgender person who has had one or more forms of sex reassignment surgeries. In some states, this may required to be legally recognized in their correct gender.

NON - OP - A Transgender person who chooses not to have sex reassignment surgery for any of a number of personal reasons (financial, health, family, emotional, etc.)

FEMALE/MALE IMPERSONATOR - A Cis Gender person who professionally dresses as the opposite sex and/or gender for entertainment purposes, and is commonly considered to be a Drag Queen or Drag King.

PASSING - Being; undetected as a member of the opposite sex.

STEALTH - A Transgender person, usually Post Op who is leading a life in which they conceal the fact that they are Transgender.

SEXUAL ORIENTATION - Is an enduring pattern of romantic or sexual attraction (or a combination of these) to other persons. There are many forms of Sexual Orientation. While most people are attracted to the opposite sex or gender, some are attracted to the same sex or gender, or to both sexes, or more than one gender. Some people have no desire for sexual contact, while others engage in sexual contact with multiple partners at the same time or on separate occasions. It is important to note that Sexual Orientation is not connected with Gender Identity, they are two separate components of a person.

TRANNY - A term thought to be coined in Australia at a gay bar and was applied to Drag Queens and Transgender people. At the time the phrase was not considered to be an insult. But, as the phrase migrated to the United States, it was picked up by the porn industry and is commonly used to describe Transgender people involved in the making of porn and prostitution. As such, most Transgender people consider this word to be a demeaning insult and is often taken with great offense.

TRANSVESTITE - A term is still used in parts of the world such as England to describe parts of the Transgender community. However, like the phrase ‘Tranny’, in the United States, it is used by the porn industry and is commonly used to describe Transgender people involved in the making of porn and prostitution. And as with the phrase ‘Tranny’, most Transgender people consider this word to be a demeaning insult.


Copyright ©2010 - All rights reserved. Updated January 8, 2010
Northwest Gender Alliance
Trans 101