Scroll To Top

Words to the

Words to the


A glossary of basic sex and gender terms you should know. Note: Terminology is hotly debated and ever-evolving.

Sex: Biological characteristics including chromosomes, genes, anatomy, gonads, hormones, etc.

Intersex (IS): Those born with atypical sex characteristics. Avoid hermaphrodite, an outdated clinical term.

Gender: Socially constructed roles, behaviors, and attributes considered by the general public to be "appropriate" for one's sex as assigned at birth. Gender roles vary among cultures and along time continuums.

Gender identity: One's personal sense of his or her correct gender, which may be reflected as gender expression.

Transgender (TG): This has become an umbrella term for nonconforming gender identity and expression.

Cross-dressing (CD): Occasionally adopting the clothes or appearance commonly associated with another gender. Avoid transvestite, an outdated clinical term.

Drag: Stylized performance of gender, usually by female-bodied drag kings or male-bodied drag queens.

Transition: Adopting one's affirmed, nonbiological gender permanently. Rarely, regretful people de-transition.

Trans woman or trans man: Informal descriptors used relative to one's affirmed gender. Variants include trans, T*, trans person, and trans folk.

Transsexual (TS) people: Typically those taking all available medical and legal steps to transition from their assigned sex to their affirmed sex. Transitioning across the sexual binary can go female to male (FTM) or male to female (MTF). Some go stealth, hiding their transsexual history.

Gender identity disorder (GID): Clinical term for gender dysphoria, discomfort in one's assigned gender. The "disorder" diagnosis is controversial.

Sex reassignment: Establishing one's affirmed sex via legal and medical steps.

Genderqueer: Those rejecting binary roles and language. Synonyms include androgynous.

Best to avoid: She-male, tranny, transie, sex change, he-she, shim.

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Andrea James