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Transgender persons and transsexuals:

Transgender/transsexual terminology.
(It is a bit of a mind-stretching mine field)

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The term "LGBT" is an acronym for "Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals,
Transgender persons/Transsexuals. Sometimes, additional letters
are added, like "Q" for Queer or Questioning, "I" for Intersexual.

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transgender man 1

An anonymous FTM transgender man,
identified as female at birth, remains
biologically female & now identifies as male.

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A brief quotation by Kenna Dixon:

"... some of us are issued brains that don’t quite match our bodies. I think it’s evidence that God has a highly-developed sense of humor." 2

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Terminology used to refer to transgender persons:

Transgender persons were typically identified as being of one gender at birth, but having a different gender identity later in life. Most now regard themselves as being of the gender opposite their birth-identified gender. A minority view themselves as having no gender, having a gender intermediate between male and female, or alternating over time between male and female. About six of every thousand adults (0.6%) are a transgender person. They total about 45 million people worldwide.

Some young children identify as being of a gender different from their birth-identified gender when they are as young as 3 years-of-age. However, most switch back before puberty. If a child identifies as transgender and is "insistent, consistent, and persistent" 7 from a young age until puberty, almost all will continue as transgender for their entire life.

The word "transgender" is an adjective, not a noun or verb. So, there are transgender women, transgender men, transgender issues, etc. A group of transgender persons are not referred to as "transgenders" or "transgendered." The abbreviation "trans" is often used, as in "trans woman" or "trans man."

Terms related to sex and gender are often confused. Among the medical, counseling and LGBT community, the following terms are often used:

  • A newborn is typically identified as male, female, or (rarely) intersex by the attending physician or doula, depending upon an visual assessment of the baby's genital region.

  • "Sex" and "Biological Sex" relates to biology and the (usually two) sex chromosomes within a person's DNA. Most humans have either XX sex chromosomes (female) or XY chromosomes (male). However, there are other combinations like XXX, XXXX, X0, XXY, XXXY. Presence of a "Y" indicates male; lack of a "Y" indicates female.

  • "Gender" refers to how people act and think of themselves in relation to their sex." 3

  • "Gender identity" "One's innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend of both, or neither. It involves how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves." 4

From a cisgender person’s perspective, it is extremely difficult to understand the disconnect transgender people experience between their bodies and their minds. This disconnect varies among transgender persons from mild to severe, and each experience is as individual as the person themselves. 8

As with many other topics related to human sexuality, religious conservatives and liberals often use a different vocabulary and belief systems when referring to transgender persons:

  • Religious conservatives:
    • Generally regard sex as being defined at birth and remaining both unchanged and unchangeable throughout a person's life.

    • Refer to a person's gender as always equal to their birth-identified sex.

    • Refer to transgender persons as being "gender confused" and in need of counseling or other therapy to straighten out their thinking.

    • Refer to transgender persons using the personal pronouns she, he, her, his, etc. in accordance with their birth-identified gender.

  • Religious liberals, the LGBT community, NOTAs and NONEs -- those NOT Affiliated with an organized religion, -- therapists, the medical community, etc.:
    • Agree that one's biological sex is defined at birth, but recognize that gender identity sometimes changes later in life.

    • Refer to a person's gender according to their current gender identity.

    • Refer to transgender persons using the personal pronouns she, he, her, his, etc. in accordance with their current gender identity.

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Other transgender terms in common usage:

In alphabetic order:

  • "Cisgender" refers to the approximately 99.4% of persons whose gender identity matches their sex as defined when they were born.

  • "FTM" refers to a transgender person who was identified as female at birth, but who now identifies as male.

  • "Gender confusion" is a term often used by religious and social conservatives to refer to the cause of a person being transgender. It implies that the person is merely confused about their gender identity and should seek therapy to correct the problem. It is considered a derogatory term by most transgender persons.

  • "Gender Dysphoria" is the current term used to describe the state of distress which is often felt by transgender persons due to their internal conflict over gender. It is used in the fifth (current as of 2018) edition of the American Psychiatric Association's "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Over time, dysphoria fades for many transgender persons, particularly if they undergo gender confirmation surgery.

  • "Gender expression" relates to how a person expresses their gender identity to the public via their mannerisms, and choice of clothing styles, hair style, makeup, etc.

  • "Gender Identity Disorder" (GID) was a term that was widely used prior to 2012 to refer to the high level of internal conflict experienced by many transgender and transsexual persons because of the mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity. This term has since been regarded as stigmatizing because of the presence of the word "disorder." The term has been abandoned in favor of "Gender Dysphoria."

  • "Intersex," or having differences of sexual development (DSD), refer to a person who was born with variations of sexual characteristics that don't fit into the typical binary definition of boy or girl. About one in 2,000 of newborns are visibly intersex.
  • "MTF" refers to a transgender person who was identified as male at birth, but who now identifies as female.

  • "Non-binary" refers to a transgender persons who don't identify as either female or male.

  • "Transgender" refers to the approximately 0.6% of persons whose gender identity does not match their biological sex as it was defined when they were born. Their gender identity may be opposite to their biological gender, or neither female nor male gender, or switching between both genders, or intermediate in gender.

  • "Transsexual" refers to transgender persons who who seek medical assistence in order to assume physical characteristics different from their birth-identified sex.

  • "Tranny" is a derogatory term used to insult transgender persons.

  • "TERF" or "Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists:" A group of feminists who claim that trans women (with a male biological sex who now identify as women) are not "real women."

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A popular transgender flag:

Transgender flag

The blue stripes refer to FTM transgender persons. The pink stripes refer to MTF transgender persons. The white stripe refers to transgender persons who do not identify with either gender or who identify as being of both genders, or who alternates gender identities.

There are many other transgender flags proposed by different individuals and groups. 5

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
  1. Dreamstime image Scott Griessel Mature Transgender Man

  2. Book cover Kenna Dixon, from the book "I'm Not The Man I Used To Be," Kindle edition. Smashwords (2014). Read reviews or order this book safely from online book store
  3. Joyce Bailey, "Trans 101," undated, at:
  4. "Sexual orientation and gender identity definitions," Human Rights Campaign," 2017, at:
  5. Tony Scupham-Bilton, "Putting Out the Trans Flags," The Wqueerstory Files," 2012-JUN, at:
  6. Dennis O'Neil "Sex Chromosome Abnormalities" Palomar College, 1998-2013, at:
  7. Evans, Cheryl B, "What Does God Think?: Transgender People and The Bible" Kindle edition, Page. 17. Read reviews or order this book safely from online book store
  8. Op Cit, Page 18.

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Copyright 2007 to 2019 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2007-JUN-08
Latest revision: 2019-JAN-27

Author: B.A. Robinson

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