Labels and Terms Used in Transgender Identity


A transgender person’s identity can be expressed in various ways.

It is important to respect and understand the terms people use.

What is the reason for so many different words?

  • It’s possible that you haven’t given much thought to gender.
  • Changing your behavior, appearance, dress, and genitals will affect how you feel about yourself and how you are treated by others.
  • Perhaps you are wondering: “Why are there so many ways to describe someone’s gender?”””
  • Gender-related feelings and thoughts can be complex.
  • Being able to describe your gender in a variety of ways helps you communicate who you are.

What is the appropriate way to refer to someone who is transgender?

  • Be respectful of the words people use to describe themselves.
  • Various terms are used by transgender people to describe their experiences, and not all terms are appropriate for all people.
  • Before using a term, ask the person how they would like it to be expressed.
  • Is it okay to ask someone for their preferred name and pronouns? Definitely use what they tell you.

Let transgender people make their own decisions about which identity labels to wear; if they’re not sure, give them time.

It’s totally normal and okay if a person’s preferred terms or language changes over time.

What if I use the wrong name, pronoun, or identity label to offend a transgender person?

It is very important to approach transgender people with respect, awareness, and a desire to learn about gender in order to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings.

People generally want to be respectful to others. Having good intentions does not mean someone will not cause pain, embarrassment, or offense.

During such moments, you can listen to a transgender person’s concerns, learn more about gender identities and language, and work to improve any inaccurate or offensive language you may be using.

Common terms used to describe gender identity

  1. Transgender (also trans*)

Persons whose gender identity differs from their birth sex.

The asterisk at the end of trans* refers to people with nonconforming gender identities and expressions.

2. Transgender Man (Trans Man)

An individual whose sex assigned at birth was female but whose gender identity is male.

In the case of intersex people, this can also refer to someone who was surgically assigned female at birth but whose gender identity is male.

Some trans men are simply male.

3. Transgender Woman (Trans Woman)

Person born male but who identifies as female despite the gender they were assigned at birth.

In the case of intersex people, these identities can also apply to someone who was surgically assigned male at birth but whose gender identity is female.

Most trans women identify as women.

4. Cisgender

Individuals identify as the sex they were assigned at birth.

As an example, a baby born with a vulva is categorized as a girl.

She is considered cisgender if she continues to see herself as a girl throughout her life.

5. Gender Dysphoria

Psychologists and doctors use this diagnosis to describe the distress, anxiety, and mismatch between one’s body and gender identity that transgender people may experience.

In order to receive medical treatment for gender dysphoria, a person may be formally diagnosed.

This condition used to be called “gender identity disorder.” However it isn’t a mental illness (but it can cause emotional distress), so the term has been changed to reflect this.

know more about what Gender Dysphoria is.

6. Intersex

It refers to a variety of conditions in which a person is born with reproductive or sexual anatomy that does not correspond to the traditional definitions of female or male.

When the external genitals of an intersex person are not obviously male or female, they may be assigned a sex at birth based on surgery.

Intersex babies are always given a legal sex, but sometimes when they grow up, their gender doesn’t match that sex.

Intersex people may be transgender, but intersex does not necessarily mean transgender.

Gender Identity Terms that are outdated, inaccurate, or offensive

The following terms may be used by some to describe themselves, but most are out-of-date or offensive.

know more about what intersex is.

7. Shemale

The term offensively refers to a transgender woman who has had medical treatment for her breasts but still has a penis.

Sex-workers or those in the porn industry may use this term (Shemale).

know more about what is a shemale.

8. Tranny (sometimes referred to as The T-word)

Although some transgender people use the word tranny to describe their gender, the majority find it offensive – a derogatory slur.

9. Gender Identity Disorder (or GID)

Is commonly known as gender dysphoria.

know more about what Gender Identity Disorder is.

10. Hermaphrodite

Refers to an intersex person.