Identity Terms


There are a wide range of words and terms that people may use to describe themselves, their identity, and their experience. Detailed on this page are the terms most commonly used by the TransEdu Scotland research participants, with a brief description of each. 


It is important to note that the language and terminology used by trans and gender diverse people - like many elements of modern language - is constantly evolving and shifting, as communities and individuals develop new ways to articulate their identities and experiences. As a result, there are no definitive or fixed terms and definitions, and so it is advisable to regularly read trans resources and engage with trans communities over time to stay attuned and up-to-date.


Trans: This was the term most commonly used by participants to describe their status, identity or experience. 'Trans' quite literally means to go beyond or across, and its use in this context originates from the words 'transgender' and 'transsexual' - to traverse gender and / or sex. 'Trans' generally functions as an umbrella term to describe the experience / status of being a different gender from the gender assigned at birth.

  • Trans woman is an identity term used by some women who were assigned male at birth. Some people also use MtF (male-to-female) to describe their experience / identity. Likewise, some people use the term trans feminine to describe their experience / identity of being a trans person who was assigned male at birth, but does not solely identify as a woman.
  • Trans man is an identity term used by some men who were assigned female at birth. Some people also use FtM (female-to-male) to describe their experience. Likewise, some people use the term trans masculine to describe their experience / identity of being a trans person who was assigned female at birth, but does not solely identify as a man.

Non-Binary: Describes identities that do not fit into the man/woman binary. Other terms include genderqueer and genderfluid.

Transgender: Similarly to 'trans', transgender also describes the experience / status of being a different gender from the gender assigned at birth. Increasingly, the short-form term - 'trans' - seems to be preferred and used most widely.

Transsexual: This term is sometimes used by people who change, or intend to change, aspects of their bodily sex. Whilst 'transsexual' has somewhat fallen out of popular usage in the UK, this term is still an important means for many people to articulate their experience. 'Transsexual' is not a derogatory term when used as self-identification, yet the term is not necessarily favoured or used by everyone.

Person of trans experience is sometimes used by people to denote that they have or have had a trans/transgender/transsexual experience, but this is not central to their identity. Similarly, person with a trans history is sometimes used by people who have had a trans/transgender/transsexual experience, and regard this as just another factor of their history, life and experience.

Agender and no gender are terms used by some people to describe feeling outside of or without gender.

 

Where to find out more:

 

  • Trans 101 Gender Diversity Crash Course - "Being trans, identity, and what it's all about." 

This multimedia resource - including free downloadable videos and written guides - is an accessible and comprehensive introduction to understanding trans identities and how to support trans people. Visit www.trans101.org.au to access the resources.


[Screenshots from Trans 101 website]


 

 

  • Trans Student Education Resources: Advocacy, information and empowerment for trans+ students in the USA. Resources and downloadable infographics on gender identity, pronouns, and other information from: http://www.transstudent.org/graphics


 

[Illustrative images of resources created by Trans Student Educational Resources, Landyn Pan and Anna Moore. Visit www.transstudent.org/resources for high resolution downloads and more information.]

 


Please note: TransEDU, and the individuals and institutions affiliated with TransEDU, are not responsible for the content of external links or external services / organisations. These resources are listed as a guide.