Terms related to Gender Identity and Expression

  • Androgyne/Androgynous: Person appearing and/or identifying as neither male nor female, presenting a gender that is either mixed or neutral.
  • Berdache: A generic term used to refer to a third gender person (woman-living man), most often referring to Native Americans. The term ‘berdache’ is generally rejected as inappropriate and offensive by Native Peoples because it is a term that was assigned by European settlers to differently gendered Native Peoples. Appropriate terms vary by tribe and include: ‘one-spirit’, ‘two-spirit’, and ‘wintke.’
  • Bigendered/Dual Gendered: A person whose gender identity is a combination of male/man and female/woman.
  • Boi: a deliberately altered spelling of “boy”  often used to refer to a female-born or female-bodied person who generally does not identify as, or only partially identifies as feminine, female, a girl or a woman; the term also has several alternative uses
  • Butch: A person who identifies themselves as masculine or having what are conventionally considered masculine traits, whether it be physically, mentally or emotionally.
  • Cross Dresser (CD): an individual who (regardless of motivation) wears clothes, makeup, etc. which are traditionally considered (within a particular culture) to be appropriate for another sex
  • Drag: Clothes conventionally considered appropriate to a sex different than one's biological sex; the performance of one or multiple genders theatrically.
  • Drag King: generally refers to women who cross dress, often for theatrical effect, such as using dramatic clothes and mannerisms to create a persona for public appreciation
  • Drag Queen: generally refers to gay men who cross dress, often for theatrical effect, such as using dramatic clothes and mannerisms to create a persona for public appreciation
  • Femme: Feminine identified person of any gender/sex, or a person having what are conventionally considered feminine traits, whether it be physically, mentally or emotionally.
  • FTM / F2M: Abbreviation for female-to-male transgender or transsexual person.
  • Gender: characteristics that are culturally associated with maleness or femaleness
  • Gender Binary: The idea that there are only two genders – male/female or man/woman and that a person must be strictly gendered as either/or
  • Gender Cues: traits used to attempt to tell the gender/sex of another person. Examples include hairstyle, gait, vocal inflection, body shape, facial hair, etc. Cues vary by culture.
  • Gender Diverse: A person who either by nature or by choice does not conform to gender-based expectations of society (e.g. transgender, transsexual, intersex, genderqueer, cross-dresser, etc.). Preferred by some to ‘gender variant’ because it does not imply a standard of normativity.
  • Gender Expression: how an individual chooses to express one’s gender identity through external characteristics and behaviors
  • Gender Identity: an individual’s internal self-perception as masculine, feminine or other-gendered; gender identity is distinct from sexual orientation (which refers to whom an individual is attracted)
  • Gender-neutral pronouns: New terms proposed to serve as gender-neutral, third-person, singular, personal pronouns in English (e.g. ze or xe, hir); used by people who feel that there are problems with gender-specific pronouns because they imply sex and/or gender.
  • Gender Normative: the practice of conforming, by nature or by choice, to the traditional/conventional gender-based expectations of society. (also referred to as ‘Genderstraight’.)
  • Gender Role: arbitrary rules, assigned by a given culture, that define what clothing, behaviors, thoughts, feelings, relationships, etc. are considered appropriate and inappropriate for members of each sex
  • Gender Variant: refers to the act of varying from conventional societal “masculine” and “feminine” gender roles; often used as an alternative term for transgender
  • Genderfuck: The idea of playing with ‘gender cues’ to purposely confuse “standard” or stereotypical gender expressions, usually through clothing.
  • Genderqueer: A gender variant person whose gender identity is neither male nor female, is between or beyond genders, or is some combination of genders. Often includes a political agenda to challenge gender stereotypes and the gender binary system.
  • Intersex: a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that varies from the expected patterns for male and female types; includes people with chromosomal sex other than XX (female) or XY (male), or people whose combination of chromosomes, gonads, hormones, internal sex organs,  and/or genitals fall outside the conventional male and female sexes; more modern term used to replace “hermaphrodite”
  • MTF / M2F: Abbreviation for male-to-female transgender or transsexual person.
  • Pangendered: A person whose gender identity is comprised of all or many gender expressions.
  • Sexual Reassignment Surgery (SRS): used by to refer to a group of surgical options that alter a person’s physical sex. In most states, one or multiple surgeries are required to achieve legal recognition of gender variance.
  • Stealth: refers to the act of choosing to be secretive in the public sphere about one’s gender history, either after transitioning or while successfully passing. (Also referred to as ‘going stealth’ or ‘living in stealth mode’.)
  • Trans: An abbreviation sometimes used to refer to a gender variant person. This use allows a person to state a gender variant identity without having to disclose hormonal or surgical status/intentions. This term is sometimes used to refer to the gender variant community as a whole.
  • Transgender (TG/Trans): 1) A person who lives as a member of a gender other than that expected based on anatomical sex. Sexual orientation varies and is not dependent on gender identity., and 2) an umbrella term which refers to people who transgress, transcend or challenge societal gender norms in various ways; the term is inclusive of many subcategories, such as gay and heterosexual crossdressers, transsexuals, transgenderists, bigendered or pangendered individuals,  androgynes, etc.
  • Transgenderist: used by some to refer to persons who live full-time as a gender other than their biological sex, but who choose not to have sex reassignment surgery or hormone therapy
  • Transman: An identity label sometimes adopted by female-to-male-transsexuals to signify that they are men while still affirming their history as-females.
  • Transphobia: a reaction of fear or hatred toward those whose gender identity or expression, or perceived gender, does not match their perceived sex, and/or the inability to deal with gender ambiguity
  • Transsexual: persons whose core gender identity, their self-perception as male or female, is different than their biological sex as assigned at birth; these individuals may choose to change their sex, through hormone therapy and/or sex reassignment surgery, to match their gender identity
  • Transvestite: refers to persons who cross dress for pleasure in the appearance and sensation; the pleasure may not be directly erotic; it may be empowering, rebellious, relaxing, stress-relieving, or something else; this term has acquired a connotation of fetishism or perversion
  • Transwoman: An identity label sometimes adopted by male-to-female transsexuals to signify that they are women while still affirming their history as males.
  • Two-Spirited: One of many terms used to refer to transgendered Native Americans. Native persons who have attributes of both genders, have distinct gender and social roles in their tribes, and are often involved with mystical rituals (shamans). Their dress is usually mixture of male and female articles and they are seen as a separate or third gender. The term ‘two-spirit’ is usually considered to specific to the Zuni tribe, although it is often used to refer to any Native American who is perceived as non-heterosexual. Similar identity labels vary by tribe and include ‘one-spirit’ and ‘wintke’. Transgender traditions, as well as acceptable terms, vary widely among tribes.
Portions of this terminology sheet came from the LGBT Resource Center at University of California at Riverside and www.trans-academics.org