Transgender politics has a language of its own and uses a lot of acronyms. I’ll list here all the terms I’m aware of being used on social media. Most of these are not ones I use myself and the only time they are used on this site is when I’m quoting other people. I also include the terms that are used by feminists and other gender abolitionists.
AFAB/AMAB = assigned female at birth/assigned male at birth
Cis or cisgender = someone whose personal gender identity matches their biological sex. Rejected by many feminists.
Cisnormativity = the assumption, which can be hurtful to trans people, that virtually everyone is cisgender. One online source cites “Men cannot get pregnant,” as an example of a cisnormative statement that might offend trans people. I kid you not.
Cissexism = manifestation of prejudice and discrimination against people who are not cisgender but, according to one online source, cissexism is “more subtle than transphobia”
DFAB/DMAB = designated female at birth/designated male at birth
Dead name = The name a trans person was given at birth, which is no longer used. Also used as a verb as in ‘deadnaming someone’.
Desistance = The term used when people who experience gender dysphoria and (often) commit to transitioning but ultimately decide not to.
Doxing (also doxxing) isn’t peculiar to trans people but it is something many claim to have a particular anxiety about. It means publishing private or identifying information about (a particular individual) on the internet, typically with malicious intent.
FtM/MtF = female to male/male to female (used by trans people)
FtT/MtT = female to trans/male to trans (used by many feminists) and may also be written FTT/MTT
GA = Gender Assignment. This tends to be used by trans folk to refer to the correctly recorded sex of a baby at birth. It is also used in scientific studies of intersex people to refer to the sex assigned by a doctor. See also GRA.
GD = Gender Dysphoria (formerly GID Gender Identity Disorder), a condition where a person experiences discomfort or distress because there’s a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity. Contrary to popular belief, not all trans people suffer from this condition. See also ROGD.
Gender expression = How a person expresses the gender they feel themselves to be through behaviour, clothing, hairstyle, etc.
Gender fluid = Describes someone who doesn’t consistently identify with one gender but switches from one to another.
Gender identity = The gender an individual identifies as and feels themselves to be.
Genderqueer = a gender identity that supposedly doesn’t fit either male or female and can be genderfluid.
GNC = gender non-conforming
GRA = Gender Reassignment. Used in scientific studies on intersex people to refer to patient-initiated gender reassignment and by trans people to refer to medical treatments undertaken for the purpose of transitioning.
Misgendering = calling someone by the pronoun of their biological sex rather than of the gender with which they identify. Often said by trans people and their allies to be an act of violence.
Non-binary = Like genderqueer, a gender identity that supposedly doesn’t fit either male or female
Outing someone is not peculiar to trans people and in fact has a much longer association with homosexuals. It means revealing personal information about someone (such as the fact that they are gay) against their will and without their permission.
ROGD = Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria. A recent phenomenon being described by parents observing their children at puberty. That it happens at all is strongly contested by trans activists.
Surgery: ‘Bottom surgery‘ is often used for genital surgery and ‘top surgery‘ for mastectomies.
TERF = Stands for ‘trans exclusionary radical feminist’ but is used to label anyone who questions, disagrees with or challenges any part of trans ideology in order to dismiss their views as unworthy of consideration.
TIF/TIM = trans identified female/trans identified male (used by gender critical feminists, disliked by transgender people)
Trap = Traps are not transgender. They are males who identify as males but they cross-dress because they get turned on when straight guys mistake them for women and fall in love with them. The female version is called a reverse trap.
Transgender (noun) = This seems to be the umbrella terms for those who identify as trans whether or not they have undertaken gender reassignment therapy/surgery. Used by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health to describe “a diverse group of individuals who cross or transcend culturally defined categories of gender”
Transgender (verb) = Used by some feminists instead of ‘transition’ in order not to give credence to the idea that it is possible to change from man to woman and vice versa.
Transition = The term commonly used when people declare a change of gender from the one associated with their biological sex. Transitioning may or may not involve: changing name, style of dress, taking hormones, breast-binding and surgery for cosmetic reasons.
Transsexual = There’s some disagreement over the current use of this term but I notice that those who use it about themselves are often those who’ve had surgery rather than just hormones. However, it is used by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health to describe “individuals who seek to change or have changed their primary and/or secondary sex characteristics through feminizing or masculinizing medical interventions (hormones and/or surgery), typically accompanied by a permanent change in gender role”
A blog written by a self-described transsexual: Defining the word transsexual
Transphobia = (Mis)used against anyone who questions, disagrees with or challenges any part of trans ideology as well as correctly used against those who show genuine irrational hate and fear – though mainly the former.
Truscum = A derogatory term used by trans people against those other trans people who believe that only those with gender dysphoria are transsexual / transgender, and that gender dysphoria is a medical condition.
TW/TM = Abbreviations for trans women/trans men often used on Twitter.
Two-spirit = A term that refers to historical and current First Nations people whose individual spirits were a blend of male and female. This term has been reclaimed by some in Native American LGBT communities to honour their heritage and provide an alternative to the Western labels of gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. (A hat-tip to the CBS News site for this definition).
Finally, here’s a concise blog post by a trans person about what words to use:
We don’t hold elections Angus “Andrea” Grieve-Smith
These two are ideological.
Transgender vs. Transsexual Melissa Karlee
Last updated 01.10.18