Transgender is an umbrella term used for people whose gender identity does not match the gender they were assigned at birth.
There are many different ways that transgender people can identify, and many different labels they can use for themselves.
Some words and definitions that may be helpful:
• Transgender – (adjective) describes a person whose gender identity is different from their assigned gender.
• Cisgender – (adjective) describes a person whose gender identity is the same as their assigned gender.
• Assigned Gender At Birth – often abbreviated AGAB, this term refers to the gender a person is assigned legally when they are born. Some transgender people also use AMAB (Assigned Male At Birth) and AFAB (Assigned Female At Birth) to describe themselves and their transition.
• Transition – “transitioning” can refer to both the social and physical changes a trans person may go through in order to be more comfortable or to make their appearance more aligned with their gender. For example, trans people may change their names, go by different pronouns, change their hairstyle or clothing, and undergo medical treatment as different parts of transition.
• Pronouns – grammatically speaking, a pronoun is a part of language which takes the place of a noun in a sentence. For example, “I,” “you,” “it,” “he,” “she,” and “they” are all different types of pronouns in the English language. In the case of transgender people, this usually means gendered pronouns such as “he,” “she,” or “they.” When a trans person comes out, they may use different gendered pronouns for themselves to better align with their gender identity.
• FTM or MTF – abbreviations that stand for Female-to-Male and Male-to-Female. These are occasionally used to describe binary transgender people who transition from one gender to the other. Some people consider these terms outdated, so it’s best to ask what a person prefers before you use them to describe that person.
• Transsexual – a term that is generally considered outdated, but some people still use it as a personal identity or descriptor for themselves. Transsexual was once used as a medical diagnosis for transgender people who intended to transition from one gender to another, and in some communities it is still used to describe trans people who have medically transitioned.
• HRT – an abbreviation for Hormone Replacement Therapy, which can be a part of medical transition for some trans people. Usually this involves taking either estrogen or testosterone to feminize or masculinize one’s appearance.
• GRS – an abbreviation for Gender Reassignment Surgery. This can also be referred to as SRS (Sex Reassignment Surgery) or GCS (Gender Confirmation Surgery), the latter of which is generally preferred by trans people. GRS or GCS can refer to a number of different surgeries that trans people may undergo to make their body better aligned with their gender identity.
• Dysphoria – also referred to as Gender Dysphoria, this is a term often used to describe the sense of distress or disconnect a trans person may feel with their body or their life due to being unable to live or be seen as their true gender. Gender Dysphoria is also sometimes used as a medical diagnosis for transgender people undergoing medical transition.
• Nonbinary or non-binary – a person who is nonbinary has a gender identity which does not fit into the male/female binary. There are many different types of nonbinary genders and identities.
• Agender – a type of nonbinary identity in which a person does not identify as any particular gender, or as having a complete lack of gender.
• Genderfluid – a person who is genderfluid has a fluctuating gender identity that changes or “flows” over time.
• Genderqueer – a genderqueer person is someone who does not fit into a strictly binary gender and may identify with both masculinity and femininity.
Transgender and Nonbinary Resources
• The National Center for Transgender Equality (transequality.org) is an organization that works to increase understanding and acceptance of transgender people. Their website has many resources including information about transgender and nonbinary people, a “know your rights” guide for trans people, guides for navigating the legal aspects of transition, and information on trans-specific legal policy and what you can do to help.
• Trans Lifeline (translifeline.org) is a suicide prevention and support hotline run by transgender people. They have both a phone line and a text line, and are available in the USA and Canada. The organization also distributes microgrants to transgender people in need of monetary support for the process of updating IDs or legal paperwork.
Trans Lifeline can be reached at:
877-565-8860 (US) or 877-330-6366 (Canada)
• Trans Student Education Resources (transstudent.org) is a group led by trans youth. Their site has resources for transgender students, including educational information, medical and legal resources, and a page about Transgender Day Of Visibility.
• Forge (forge-forward.org) is a Wisconsin-based transgender anti-violence organization. They provide workplace and school education for preventing violence against transgender people, as well as help for transgender individuals dealing with domestic violence, sexual assault, or other violence.
• An article from Grammarly by Celeste Mora discusses the use of singular “they” as a gender neutral pronoun, including its history, how to use it correctly, and how it benefits transgender and nonbinary people.
• An article from them.us explains agender identities with a short video.
• TransCareSite has a page with resources for nonbinary people, such as discussion of nonbinary and genderqueer identities, and an article about the singular “they” pronoun.
• FTMguide has many resources for transition-related concerns for FTM trans people, trans men, and transmasc people who wish to present as male.
• The Campaign for Southern Equality (southernequality.org) has a page called “Trans in the South” with resources for transgender people in the southern USA, including advice from other trans people and help finding medical providers. The guide is downloadable as a PDF file.