There's a lot of different terms to describe our sexualities, genders, and bodies, and if you're new to these topics it can get a bit overwhelming. That's OK! We've put together a list of terms it's useful to know, but it's alright if you don't remember every single one right away. The important thing is to listen to the people around you when they tell you what they want to be called, and that they do the same for you!
Having words to describe ourselves can be really validating, and they make it easier to find other people with similar experiences. This is a good starting point if you're working out what words fit you best. These are some commonly used definitions, but identity is a really personal topic. We define labels, they don't define us, and everyone has their own associations and connotations with different words. Try them out and decide what's best for you!
AFAB and AMAB stand for Assigned Female at Birth and Assigned Male at Birth. When a baby is born someone (usually a doctor or nurse) looks at them and says "that's a girl" or "that's a boy". That's called assigning a gender. This gender assignment is then reinforced as they grow up by the rest of society, including family, school, etc.
Gender refers to an individual’s internal sense of self and how they identify.
Transgender/gender diverse refers to someone who does not exclusively identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. Trans is a Latin prefix that means 'on the other side of'.
Cisgender refers to someone who does exclusively identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. Cis is a Latin prefix that means 'on the same side as'.
Non-binary is an umbrella term for anyone who doesn't identify as exclusively male or exclusively female- their gender falls somewhere outside the typical binary of ‘man’ or ‘woman’.
Gender dysphoria is the intense discomfort that a trans person may feel about physical attributes or the way they’re gendered by others. Gender dysphoria can be on a social level, a physical level or even a purely emotional level
Transphobia is the discrimination and prejudice transgender/gender diverse people face for being transgender/gender diverse. It includes harassment, slurs, being denied access to jobs, housing, and appropriate medical care, lack of representation is media and positions of power and even physical and sexual violence.
Pronouns are words we use instead of people's names like she/her, they/them, ze/zir, or he/him. There are lots of different pronouns and those are only a few examples. It’s best to ask someone what pronouns they prefer instead of making assumptions.
Transition/gender affirmation is the process a person takes to affirm their gender and express their identity in the way that suites them best. This can involve using a different name or pronouns, dressing differently, telling people what gender they are, hormone replacement therapy, gender affirmation surgeries, and anything else that someone wants to use to express themselves. This process looks different for everyone and none of it makes someone more or less trans.
FtM/ F2M and MtF/ M2F stand for ‘female to male’ and ‘male to female’. Some trans people use these terms to describe themselves, but for others they can be uncomfortable or even misgendering. If someone prefers these terms for themselves then that's what you should use for them, but they aren't umbrella terms for the whole community and should only be used for someone after they say so.
Transsexual is an older term that's become less common over the years. It's a derogatory word for trans people. Some trans folks have chosen to reclaim, but it should never be used to describe someone without their explicit permission.