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A.F.A.B. and A.M.A.B. (sometimes C.A.F.A.B. and C.A.M.A.B.)  

Acronyms meaning assigned female at birth or assigned male at birth. When the ‘C’ is added, it stands for ‘coercively’. In cases when it’s necessary to refer to the birth-assigned sex of a trans person, such as someone who may identify as intersex, this is the best way to do it. 


Used as an adjective to describe the binary genders female/ woman/ girl or male/ man/ boy. 


Currently being redefined by bisexual rights activists to mean that one is attracted to both their own gender, as well as other genders. This better reflects the experience of many bisexual people (rather than simply attracted to binary men and binary women). In common use, most bisexual people identify as being attracted to men and women. Some bisexual rights activists say this interpretation is 'biphobia', or stigma against bisexuals, erasing their attraction to non-binary people. However, as it is bisexuals themselves who commonly identify as being attracted to men and women, this is an ongoing topic of debate. Bisexuality is believed by some to be the most common sexual orientation, more common than heterosexuality. This is due to pervasive instances of people identifying as heterosexual at times but bisexual when safe to do so. 

Bottom Surgery, SRS, or GRS  

Bottom surgery, Sexual Reconstruction Surgery (SRS) or Genital Reconstruction Surgery (GRS), refer to several different types of gender affirmation or transition related surgical procedures which alter the patient's genitalia. These terms are preferred over “sex change operation” or anything with “reassignment.” Not all transgender people choose to or can afford to have GRS. Overemphasizing the importance of GRS to the transition or affirmation process should be avoided.  



Cisgender, Cis, CisSexual  

A term used to describe people who are not transgender. "Cis-" is a Latin prefix meaning "on the same side as," and is therefore an antonym of "trans-." A more widely understood way to describe people who are not transgender is simply to say non-transgender people. 


While anyone may wear clothes associated with a different sex, the term cross-dresser is typically used to refer to men who occasionally wear clothes, makeup, and accessories culturally associated with women. Those men typically identify as heterosexual. This activity is a form of gender expression and not done for entertainment purposes. Cross-dressers do not wish to permanently change their sex or live full-time as women. Replaces the term "transvestite". 

Gender Dysphoria

In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association released the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) which replaced the outdated entry "Gender Identity Disorder" with Gender Dysphoria, and changed the criteria for diagnosis. The necessity of a psychiatric diagnosis remains controversial, as both psychiatric and medical authorities recommend individualized medical treatment through hormones and/or surgeries to treat gender dysphoria. Some transgender advocates believe the inclusion of Gender Dysphoria in the DSM is necessary in order to advocate for health insurance that covers the medically necessary treatment recommended for transgender people. 

Gender Expression   

External manifestations of gender, expressed through a person's name, pronouns, clothing, haircut, behavior, voice, and/or body characteristics. Society identifies these cues as masculine and feminine, although what is considered masculine or feminine changes over time and varies by culture. Typically, transgender people seek to align their gender expression with their gender identity, rather than the sex they were assigned at birth. 

Gender Identity   

A person's internal, deeply held sense of their gender. For transgender people, their own internal gender identity does not match the sex they were assigned at birth. Most people have a gender identity of man or woman (or boy or girl). For some people, their gender identity does not fit neatly into one of those two choices (see non-binary and/or genderqueer below.) Unlike gender expression (see below) gender identity is not visible to others. 


Gender Identity Disorder (GID)  

outdated, see Gender Dysphoria 

Gender Non-Conforming (GNC)   

A term used to describe some people whose gender expression is different from conventional expectations of masculinity and femininity. Please note that not all gender non-conforming people identify as transgender; nor are all transgender people gender non-conforming. Many people have gender expressions that are not entirely conventional – that fact alone does not make them transgender. Many transgender men and women have gender expressions that are conventionally masculine or feminine. Simply being transgender does not make someone gender non-conforming. The term is not a synonym for transgender or transsexual and should only be used if someone self-identifies as gender non-conforming. 

Heteroflexible or Homoflexible  

Similar to bisexual or pansexual, but with a stated heterosexual or homosexual preference respectively. Heteroflexible indicates that one is primarily interested in heterosexual relationships but is “flexible” when it comes to sexual activities. Homoflexible, indicates that one is primarily interested in homosexual relationships but is “flexible” when it comes to sexual activities.  


Romantic attraction, sexual attraction, or sexual behavior between persons of the opposite sex or gender identity 


Describes a range of conditions where person has a variation of sex characteristics from birth (as opposed to through taking hormones or having surgeries). Variations of sex characteristics means their sex characteristics are ambiguous in the context of the male/female sex binary. A person may not know they have an intersex condition until they reach puberty and their body changes differently than expected, however most people who are diagnosed with an intersex condition were diagnosed at birth. When an intersex infant is born with ambiguous external genitalia, parents and clinicians typically assign them a binary sex and perform surgical operations to conform the infant’s body to that assignment. This practice is oppressive and is increasingly recognized as unethical and abusive; as intersex adults are speaking out against having been made to undergo potentially harmful medical procedures which they did not consent to. Being intersex does not necessarily imply anything regarding one’s gender, anatomy, orientation, or trans status. 


Non-binary and/ or genderqueer

Terms used by some people who experience their gender identity and/or gender expression as falling outside the categories of man and woman. They may define their gender as falling somewhere in between man and woman, or they may define it as wholly different from these terms. The term is not a synonym for transgender or transsexual and should only be used if someone self-identifies as non-binary and/or genderqueer. 


Being read is the gender one wishes to be read as (usually used in a binary cisgender context). The term ‘passing’ is falling out of fashion as it is seen to imply that one should desire to look cisgender. 

Reproductive Health    

Reproductive health, or sexual health/hygiene, addresses the reproductive processes of family planning, functions, and systems at all stages of life. Reproductive health implies that people are able to have a responsible, satisfying, healthy reproductive system and safer sex life and that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so. 

Reproductive Justice    

The human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities. Core components of reproductive justice include equal access to safe abortion, affordable contraceptives, and comprehensive sex education, as well as freedom from sexual violence. 




The classification of a person as male or female. At birth, infants are assigned a sex, usually based on the appearance of their external anatomy. (This is what is written on the birth certificate.) A person's sex, however, is actually a combination of bodily characteristics including: chromosomes, hormones, internal and external reproductive organs, and secondary sex characteristics.  

Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) (GCS)    

Also called Gender Confirmation Surgery (GCS). Refers to doctor-supervised surgical interventions and is only one small part of transition (see transition above). Avoid the phrase "sex change operation." Do not refer to someone as being "pre-op" or "post-op." 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. 

Sexual Orientation     

Describes a person'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, bisexual, or queer. For example, a person who transitions from male to female and is attracted solely to men would typically identify as a straight woman. 

Sexual Health     

The ability to express sexuality and to do so free from risk of sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancy, coercion, violence, and discrimination. 


Used as shorthand to mean transgender or transsexual - or sometimes to be inclusive of a wide variety of identities under the transgender umbrella. Because its meaning is not precise or widely understood, be careful when using it with audiences who may not understand what it means. Avoid unless used in a direct quote or in cases where you can clearly explain the term's meaning in the context of your story.

Trans Man 

Trans man refers to a man who was assigned female at birth. He may or may not be identified by others as trans, and may or may not identify himself as trans. It is grammatically and definitionally correct to include a space between trans and man.  

Trans Woman

Trans woman refers to a woman who was assigned male at birth. She may or may not be identified by others as trans, and may or may not identify herself as trans. It is grammatically and definitionally correct to include a space between trans and woman.  


Transgender (adj.)  

An umbrella term for people whose gender identity differs from 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. Some of those terms are defined below. Use the descriptive term preferred by the person. Many transgender people are prescribed hormones by their doctors to bring their bodies into alignment with their gender identity. Some undergo surgery as well. But not all transgender people can or will take those steps, and a transgender identity is not dependent upon physical appearance or medical procedures. 


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 can include 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". 

Transsexual (adj.)    

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 a person prefers. If preferred, use as an adjective: transsexual woman or transsexual man. 


Broadly used to indicate that one rejects heteronormativity and is not heterosexual – though sometimes queer is also used by heterosexual transgender people. 

For other terms and how to use them, visit Glaad's Transgender Media Resource Guide.

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