Definition of "Transgender"

Pronounced "trans-JEN-der.

Related terms include trans*, transsexual, MTF, FTM, transgendered, and T-word.

"Laverne Cox is one of the first transgender actresses to achieve mainstream success."The term transgender refers to someone whose gender identity does not match his or her sex assigned at birth. Usually, "transgender" refers specifically to someone who was assigned one gender at birth (and thus is an an AFAB or an AMAB) but self-identifies as the opposite gender. Appropriate terminology reflects the person's identified gender, and not his or her gender assigned at birth-- that is, an AFAB who identifies as a man is a transgender man (FTM), while an AMAB who identifies as a woman is a transgender woman (FTM).

There is some debate about the exact meaning of the term transgender and how it relates to other terms used within the LGBT community. Some people consider transgender to be an umbrella term for a number of identities including those that are nonbinary. Others consider "transgender" to refer exclusively to people who are FTM or MTF, and for nonbinary identities to be separate. Similarly, transvestites are sometimes classified as trangender, although the majority of trans* people consider transvestism to be a separate culture and need. The relationship between transgenderism and transsexualism is also a point of some debate, with some viewing transsexualism as a synonym, some viewing it as a form of transgenderism, and some finding the term wholly inappropriate.

The term transgender first appeared in print in 1970. Although "transsexual" was a more popular term for at least two decades, "transgender" eventually became the favored term since it de-emphasized the word "sex" and many saw it as inclusive toward related identities. The term "transgendered," ending in -ed, is one variation, but is considered grammatically incorrect.

Definition of "Trans*" with an Asterisk

Pronounced "TRANS" or "TRANS-as-TER-isk.

Related terms include transgender, transsexual, nonbinary, and gender spectrum.

"This organization is open and accepting toward trans* people, including transgender, transsexual, transvestite, and nonbinary identities.

The term trans*, with an asterisk, is used widely within the LGBT+ community to refer to people who are transgender, or self-identfy with related terms and concepts. The asterisk in "trans*" is meant to indicate any and all suffixes that may follow the prefix "trans," including -gender, -sexual, and -vestite. It can also connote related identities that may not include the prefix "trans," such identities on the nonbinary portion of the gender spectrum, including agender, genderfluid, and bigender.

The asterisk in trans* is a source of controversy within the community. Because asterisks are frequently used in reference to invalidating footnotes, such as 'Buy One, Get One Free*," some people view the asterisk as invalidating and as an implication that a person's gender identity is something that requires an explanation or may not be genuine. There are vocal proponents on both sides of the debate regarding the use of the term trans*. Some suggested alternatives include "trans+," "trans, etc.," or, simply, "trans."

Trans* with an asterisk first gained popularity in the early 2010s and may be falling out of favor due to controversy regarding its use. Its origins are the prefix "trans-" meaning "across from" and used in the terms transgender and transsexual, and the asterisk, which has many meanings and connotations within the English language.

Definition of "Nonbinary"

Pronounced "non-BYE-NAIR-EE."

Related terms include trans*, gender binary, intersex, pansexual, gender spectrum.

"Jordan has a nonbinary gender identity because ze has never felt like a man or a woman."

A nonbinary gender identity is one that does not fall within standard categorizations of male/female or man/woman. A nonbinary person not self-identify as a man or a woman-- or identifies sometimes as a man and sometimes as a woman-- thereby falling completely outside the typical gender binary.

Nonbinary people can be AFAB, AMAB, or biologically intersex, and may have any sexual orientation. They are generally considered to fall under the trans* umbrella. However, nonbinary individuals differ from most transgender people in that they do not explicitly self-identify as men or women. Nonbinary people may or may not have a desire to physically transition through interventions such as HRT and SRS.

The use of gendered language can be complicated for nonbinary people. While some nonbinary people use the pronouns he and she, others avoid binary language and prefer to be referred to with other preferred pronouns such as ze, sie, hir, co, ey, or singular "they, or by avoiding pronouns altogether. Some nonbinary people also prefer the use of gender-neutral identifying nouns, such as "spouse" instead of husband or wife and "sibling" instead of brother or sister. They may also use "Mx." as a substitute for Mr., Miss, Mrs., or Ms.

Nonbinary identities include 
genderqueer, genderfluid, agender, gender neutral, genderless, bigender, trigender, pangender, neutrois, two-spirit, third gender, and androgyne.

Definition of "Gender Spectrum"

Pronounced "jen-DER SPEC-trum."

Related terms include nonbinary, trans*, pansexual, gender expression.

"Angela self-identifies as pansexual because she's attracted to people on all parts of gender spectrum."

The term gender spectrum is a way of describing gender without conforming to the gender binary. It denotes gender as a continuum that includes male and female, but without establishing them as absolutes or polar opposites. The view of gender as a spectrum allows for the inclusion of identities besides male and female-- specifically, it allows for the inclusion of intersex people, nonbinary gender identities, and nonbinary gender expressions.

A person can fall anywhere on the gender spectrum regardless of their orientation, gender expression, or biological sex. For example, a heterosexual, cisgender (or cishet) woman might have a butch, tomboy, or androgynous gender expression. This does not mean that she does not identify herself as heterosexual or a woman, but it does subvert stereotypical ideas of womanhood based in gender binarism and gender essentialism.

The term gender spectrum has been used to some degree since at least the second-wave feminist movement of the 1970s, but has gained popularity as a component of the trans* acceptance movement beginning in the 1990s and continuing through today.

Definition of "Gender Binary"

Pronounced "jen-DER BYE-nair-ee."

Related terms include gender essentialism, gender spectrum, nonbinary, and cissexism.

"Gender-segregated bathrooms with woman-in-a-dress and man-in-pants icons are a manifestation of gender binarism."

Gender binarism, or the gender binary, is the separation of males and females into two socially and biologically distinct categories that are viewed as opposite from one another and diametrically opposed. Gender binarism involves the assumption that all AMABs are inherently masculine and that all AFABs are inherently feminine. Gender binarism discourages the crossing and mixing of gender roles and gender identities. It reinforces gender-based stereotypes and devalues people with trans*, intersex, or nonbinary identities.

Gender binarism is hurtful to people in all spaces of the gender spectrum. By labeling and restricting certain interests, careers, and activities to "masculinity" or "femininity," it makes life unnecessarily difficult and restrictive to men as well as women. It can also be viewed as the driving force behind patriarchy and misogyny. People with nonbinary gender identity or gender expression may struggle with prejudice and persecution under a culture steeped in gender binarism.

The term "gender binary" became part of the mainstream feminist lexicon during the second wave feminist movement of the 1960s through 1980s, and has continued to be part of feminist and sociological discourse throughout the 21st century.

Definition of "Heterosexism"

Pronounced "HEH-ter-OH SEX-is-um"

Related terms include heteronormativity, cissexism, biphobia, queer.

"It's heterosexist to say that you don't care about gay marriage just because it doesn't directly affect your rights."

Heterosexism is the idea that heterosexuality is a normal, natural, or superior state of human sexual orientation, and the system of oppresion based on that belief. It is very closely related to homophobia and the two ideas tend to coexist. Like homophobia and cissexism, heterosexism exists on both a societal and individual level and can be either deliberate or unintentional on part of the person holding those beliefs.

Cultural heterosexism is a major obstacle in attaining marriage equality and other recognition of same-sex relationships. Related acts and ideas-- such as homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia-- can also lead to acts of violence and discrimination LGBT+ individuals.

The word heterosexism was developed as a portmanteau, from "hetero-sex," meaning "opposite sex,"and "-ism," often used as a suffix in reference to forms of oppression such as racism and sexism. Alternative terms for the same concept include institutionalized homophobia, heterocentrism, and heterosexualism.

Definition of "Transmisogyny"

Pronounced "trans-MIS-AH-jin-EE"

Related terms include transphobia, cissexism, transfeminism, trans*, T-word, and transgender.

"When I came out to my transmisogynistic boyfriend as a transwoman, he said he was relieved because it meant he'd have someone to cook his meals and iron his clothes."
Transmisogyny is an intersection of two forms of oppression that transgender women are subjected to: transphobia and misogyny. Because conventional patriarchal culture views women as inherently inferior to men (misogyny), transwomen are also perceived as inferior by virtue of being feminine and pursuing a female social role in society. They tend to be subjected to many dangers and forms of discrimination not only because of misogyny, but also because of transphobia and cissexism.

Unfortunately, transmisogyny has many deadly consequences, including high rates of rape, assault, and murder of transgender women. Trans* women may also feel pressured to conform to problematic gender stereotypes, such as wearing high heels or being "domestic," as a way of proving and validating their identity, and they may be subject to both transphobic and misogynistic discrimination in the workplace. 

The term transmisogyny first appeared in print in 2007, when transfeminist activist Julia Serano used the word in her book The Whipping Girl, which explores many levels of discrimination and oppression including transmisogyny.