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Transgenderism, transsexualism and gender identity

Glossary of terms starting with the letter "T" to "Z"

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Glossary of terms starting with the letter "A" to "S"

Our glossary of religious and spiritual terms is located elsewhere

We also have a glossary of other sexually related terms.

As mentioned elsewhere, it is impossible to obtain agreement on the precise meaning of terms concerning these topics. A consensus is rare. Most glossaries give only a single definition each term. We will try to explain the full range of meanings in common use.

bulletThird Gender: A term used to describe individuals who do not fall into conventional patterns of gender. It has historically been used to refer to lesbian, gay, transgender, intersex persons. It is sometimes used to refer to individuals who regard themselves as being neither male nor female, or to persons who swap genders over time.
bulletThird sex: See third gender ^.
bullet Transition: The entire process of changing a person's body from appearing as the gender with which they were identified at birth to the opposite sex that they feel they truly are. The process can involve a combination of hormone treatment (a.k.a. medical transition) and gender reassignment surgery (GRS; surgical transition). Most transsexuals revise their birth certificate, change their legal name, etc.
bullettransgender (a.k.a. TG): This word has multiple meanings:

bullet Generally defined as a person who experiences gender dysphoria (once called gender identity disorder). They identify themselves as experiencing gender identity that is is in conflict with their birth-assigned gender. Thus, their gender expression or physical characteristics differ from their sex as assigned at birth.

bulletSome consider transgender to be an umbrella term which includes:
bulletPreoperative transsexuals.
bulletPostoperative transsexuals.
bulletNonoperative transsexuals.
bulletTransgenderists: persons living full-time in a gender other than their birth sex.
bulletCross dressers: persons who occasionally present themselves as the opposite sex. (Transvestite is a synonym, but is regarded by many cross dressers as a pejorative term). The vast majority are heterosexual men.
bullet"Mannish" women and "feminine" men whose gender expression is opposite to their sex.
bulletIntersexed persons who are born with genitals that are not typically male or typically female. They are frequently defined as male or female at birth. However, they often develop physically -- or have a gender identity -- in opposition to their assigned gender.
bulletTransgenderists: Persons who present themselves, either on a part-time or full-time basis, as a gender opposite  to their genetic gender without any interest in undergoing genital reassignment surgery.
bulletTransman (a.k.a. trans man, trans-man): A transsexual person who was classified as a female at birth but who identifies themselves later in life as a man and has made the transition to being a man. Many transmen refer to themselves simply as a man.
bulletTransphobic: This is a term that refers to transsexuals, and is analogous to homophobic as it applies to homosexuals. Transphobic has a range of meanings, including any combination of:
bulletFear of transsexuals and discomfort while being in their presence.
bulletHating transsexuals.
bulletPreferring that transsexuals be heavily discriminated against: to be denied the right to marry the person that they love and are committed to, to be denied protection against employment discrimination. to be denied protection from hate-crimes, etc.
bulletActively campaigning to reduce the rights of transsexuals.
bulletHarassing, assaulting or murdering persons because of their gender identity.
bulletTranssexed: A synonym for "transsexual" preferred by some transsexed persons because "transsexual" sounds like a sexual orientation like bisexual or heterosexual.
bulletTranssexual (a.k.a. transexual, TS, transsexed, transidentity, trans, tranny, T-folk, trans folk): As for the term "transgender," there is no consensus on the precise meaning of this term.
bulletOne common definition is that a transsexual is a transgender person who experiences severe gender dysphoria and feels they can "no longer continue to live their lives in the gender associated with the physical sex they were assigned at birth. " 1
bullet Some restrict the term to including only those undergo hormone therapy and/or gender reassignment surgery (GRS) in order to more closely appear to be of the sex that they feel they are.

Additional factors:
bulletSome transsexuals consider the term trans and tranny to be offensive.
bulletSome post-operative transsexuals do not refer to themselves as transsexuals; they regard themselves as having become either male or female and identify themselves accordingly.
bullet Some prefer the term transgender as preferable to transsexual because gender identity is all about gender, not sex.

bulletTransvestite: An older term for "cross dresser." Frequently regarded as a derogatory term.
bulletTransvestic fetishism: A psychiatric condition in which a person -- almost always a male heterosexual -- is significantly distressed by a recurrent sexual arousal due to thoughts or practices of cross dressing.
bulletTranswoman (a.k.a. trans woman, trans-woman): A transsexual person who was classified as a male at birth but who identifies themselves later in life as a woman and has made the transition to being a woman. Many transwomen refer to themselves simply as women.
bullet Trigender, Trigenerism: An individual who transitions themselves as masculine, feminine and being a third gender at various times depending upon their mood or the situation in which they find themselves.
bulletTwo-Spirit (a.k.a. two spirit or twospirit): A recently coined term used to refer to Native North Americans who fulfill a mixed gender role. They wore the clothing and performed the tasks of both men and women. They have been found in more than 130 tribes throughout North America. 2

Additional definitions:

The FTM resource guide has a glossary of primary interest to female-to-male (FTM) transsexuals at:

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Discrimination against transgender people in American, International Conference on Transgender Law and Employment Policy. Online at:
  2. Scott, "Berdaches - Two Spirits," etransgender, 2005-OCT-28, at:

Copyright © 2007 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2007-JUN-08
Latest update and review: 2011-MAY-26
Author: B.A. Robinson

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