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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 man1

An unidentified FTM transgender man, identified
as female at birth, who 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 now have a different gender identity. 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.

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

  • "Sex" relates to biology and the (usually two) sex chromosomes within a person's DNA. A newborn is typically identified as male, female, or (rarely) intersexed depending upon an visual assessment of the baby's genital region.

  • "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

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

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

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

    • 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, they, her, his, their, etc. in accordance with their birth-identified gender.

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

    • Refer to a person's gender as equal 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:

  • "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 why a person is 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 transgende persons.

  • "Gender Dysphoria" is the current term used to describe distress caused transsexual persons by their internal conflict over gender. It is used in the fifth (current) edition of the American Psychiatric Association's "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

  • "Gender expression" relates to how a person expresses their gender identity to the public via their mannerisms, 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 sex and gender identity. This term has since been regarded as stigmatizing because of the presence of the word "disorder." Use of the term has largely been abandoned.

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

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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 Amazon.com online book store
  3. Joyce Bailey, "Trans 101," undated, at: https://jmcl.wordpress.com/
  4. "Sexual orientation and gender identity definitions," Human Rights Campaign," 2017, at: http://www.hrc.org/
  5. Tony Scupham-Bilton, "Putting Out the Trans Flags," The Wqueerstory Files," 2012-JUN, at: http://queerstoryfiles.blogspot.ca/

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Copyright © 2007 to 2017 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2007-JUN-08
Latest revision: 2017-MAR-07

Author: B.A. Robinson

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