Words and terms explained

On this page you will find explanations of some of the words and terms that are used on this website. They are listed in alphabetical order.

Agender Identifies with no gender
AFAB Assigned female at birth
AMAB Assigned male at birth
Ace Abbreviation of Asexual
ASD Autism spectrum disorder
Asexual A variation in levels of romantic and/or sexual attraction, including a lack of attraction
Binder/binding Item of clothing worn by trans men and transmasculine people. Mermaids (2021) describe binding as “used by some (but not all) trans masculine people to compress their chests and create a more conventionally masculine shape”.
Bigender Identifies with more than one gender
Bisexual Romantic and/or sexual orientation towards more than one gender
Bottom surgery A way of referring to surgery that alters the genital region
CAMHS Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service
Cisgender/cis/cis person A cis/cisgender/cis person is a person whose gender identity is the same as the sex they were assigned at birth
DSM The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
Enby Abbreviation of non-binary i.e. ‘NB’, expressed as an acronym
FFS Facial feminisation surgery i.e. surgery to make your face a more conventionally feminine shape)
FTM Female to male
Gay Refers to men who have a romantic and/or sexual orientation towards men
Gender diverse, gender-diverse This term may describe a group of individuals who do not identify as completely male or female and who may use descriptors such as non-binary, genderqueer, and/or transgender; individuals who express gender nonconformity but do not necessarily ascribe to a transgender identity; and/or individuals whose gender identities do not align with either the female/male binary
Gender dysphoria, gender incongruence Describes a sense of unease that a person may have because of a mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity
Genderfluid Describes a fluid conception of gender that shifts, changes or transforms over time
Gender nonconformity Not conforming to societal gender norms or roles
Genderqueer An umbrella term for people who identify with, embrace/reject multiple, none, any, both/neither gender, or moving in-between or outside of genders throughout time. Can align with the political challenge/subversion of gender norms. See also non-binary
GIC Gender Identity Clinic. Adult gender identity services based in different locations in England
GIDS Gender Identity Development Service. Part of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust
Hormone therapy Cross-sex hormone treatment; hormone therapy for adults means taking the hormones of your preferred gender: a trans man will take testosterone (masculinising hormones), a trans woman will take oestrogen (feminising hormones)
Hormone blockers Gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) analogues. These are synthetic (human-made) hormones that suppress the hormones naturally produced by the body
ICD International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems
Informed consent Often described as a model/approach to transgender healthcare which a) promotes a departure from the use of the diagnosis of gender dysphoria as a prerequisite for accessing transition services and (b) attempts to impact the way that trans-gender individuals experience and access health care by removing the psycho-therapy/gatekeeping requirement (Shulz, 2018)
Intersex A term used to describe a person who may have the biological attributes of both sexes or whose biological attributes do not fit with societal assumptions about what constitutes male or female. Intersex people may identify as male, female or non-binary
Lesbian Refers to women who have a romantic and/or sexual orientation towards women
LGBTQ+/IA Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Intersex, Asexual
Meme A humorous video, image, GIF or text shared online through social media
MTF Male to female
Non-binary An umbrella term for people whose gender identity doesn’t sit comfortably with binary concepts of gender such as man/woman, male/female. Non-binary identities are varied and can include people who identify with some aspects of binary identities, while others reject them entirely. See also genderqueer and gender-diverse
Pass, passing When a trans person is perceived as the gender they wish to be seen as
Pronouns gender pronouns (e.g. he/she/they) are used to refer to the sex and/or gender of a person. Changing and using different pronouns can be part of a trans or gender diverse person’s journey
Queer Refers both to ‘queer theory’ as a political movement in the late 80s/early 1990s, challenging and subverting gender and sexuality norms as well as an umbrella for wider LGBTQ+ identities
Section 28 Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 banned local authorities and schools from ‘promoting homosexuality’ or ‘publishing material with the intention of promoting homosexuality’.  It was repealed in England and Wales in September 2003. (Stonewall, 2021)
‘T’ Abbreviation of testosterone, a masculinising hormone
Tanner stage Describes scale of measuring stages of puberty according to physical development and development of primary and secondary sex characteristics. First identified by paediatrician Prof. James Tanner
Tavi Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust. Home to GIDS (Gender Identity Development Service) and London GIC (Gender Identity Clinic)
TERF Stands for ‘trans-exclusionary radical feminist’. For more information see Vincent, B., Erikainen, S., & Pearce, R. (2020). TERF Wars: Feminism and the fight for transgender futures (Vol. 68, No. 4). Sage
Top surgery A way of referring to surgery that involves breast tissue removal and chest contouring, and/or breast implants
Trans An umbrella term to describe people whose gender is not the same as, or does not sit comfortably with, the sex they were assigned at birth. Trans people may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms, including (but not limited to) transgender, transsexual, genderqueer, genderfluid, non-binary, agender, two-spirit, bi-gender, trans man, trans woman, transmasculine, and transfeminine
Transfeminine, transfem/transfemme, fem/femme Usually describes people assigned male at birth (AMAB) whose gender identity is partially or fully feminine or aligns with femininity
Transmasculine, transmasc, masc Usually describes people assigned female at birth (AFAB) whose gender identity is partially or fully masculine or aligns with masculinity
Trans man/male A term used to describe someone who is assigned female at birth but identifies as male and lives as a man. This may be shortened to trans man, or FTM, an abbreviation for female-to-male
Trans woman/female A term used to describe someone who is assigned male at birth but identifies as female and lives as a woman. This may be shortened to trans woman, or MTF, an abbreviation for male-to-female
Transition The term used to describe the process which someone goes through to live as a different gender from the gender that was ascribed to them at birth
Two-spirit A sacred and historical identity. A term created by and for Native American and indigenous people. Can be used by some indigenous people to refer to gender identities that are outside the binary or a ‘third gender’. Can refer to an indigenous person who identifies as having both a masculine and a feminine spirit


Mermaids (2021), Glossary
Schulz, S.L., 2018. The informed consent model of transgender care: An alternative to the diagnosis of gender dysphoria. Journal of humanistic psychology, 58(1), pp.72–92
Stonewall (2021), Glossary of terms