Terminology

Gender has two related aspects; gender identity, which is the person’s internal perception and experience of their gender and gender role or expression, which is the way the person lives in society and interacts with others, often to reflect their gender identity. Gender is not the same as biological sex, it is not a binary choice, some people have a gender identity that is neither 100% male nor 100% female, some people may have a gender identity that changes over time and may use words like bigender, pangender or genderfluid to describe themselves. There are many terms and phrases that are used to describe trans people, some trans people may identify with some or none of these. The following is not an exhaustive list as terms relating to gender are developing quickly:

Acquired gender is the new gender role of a person who has socially or medically transitioned.  The vast majority of trans people do not like this term, as it is one that refers to a medical notion of identity.

A cisgender person or cis person is someone who is comfortable in the role of their assigned gender, also known as a non-trans person.

Gender Dysphoria is the clinical term for the condition in which a person experience discomfort or distress because the gender they were assigned at birth differs from their gender identity.  Gender Dysphoria is a highly personal and complex condition and many trans people reject the notion that this is a pre-requisite for being trans.

Gender expression or role is the presentation of one’s self, either through personality or clothing and thus the gender perceived by others.  Often, trans people seek to make their gender expression to match their gender identity however, this can be hard for those who do not identify as male or female.

Gender identity is a person’s internal, deeply held sense of their own gender.  For trans people, their own sense of who they are does not match the sex that society assigns them when they are born.

Genderqueer is a term for non-binary gender identities i.e. other than permanently male or female. People may identify themselves as both male and female or neither; agender, genderless, androgynous, gender neutral or third gender.  They may sometimes be male and sometimes female.

Gender reassignment is another way of describing transition, i.e. changing names, dressing differently and living in your self-identified gender.  It does not have to involve medical supervision as not all trans people wish to medically transition.  Gender reassignment is a protected characteristic by the Equality Act 2010.

A Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) issued by a Gender Recognition Panel under the Gender Recognition Act 2004 gives the holder legal protection and recognition in their gender for all purposes.  When a trans person receives a GRC, they have the right to request that all references to their former name and gender be removed from all records to ensure their former identity is not revealed.  Nothing should remain on the file or in a system that would disclose to a third party that a change took place.  For example, an offer letter issued to a student or new recruit will need to be replaced with an offer letter in their new name.  People with gender recognition certificates may marry or have civil partnerships in their acquired gender, and may have a state pension appropriate to their gender identity.  The University does not need to see the GRC in order to recognise an employees or students gender and it is unlawful to request it.

An intersex person has a separate identity to that of a trans person.  An intersex person has anatomy or physiology that is different from what traditionally constitutes male or female.

LGBT: lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans action and support groups have both a trans and sexual orientation remit.  The two communities have traditionally supported each other as they have similar experiences of prejudice and discrimination.

Non-binary is an umbrella term for someone that identifies as outside of male or female.

Real life experience is the phase during gender reassignment in which the individual must work, study and live in the gender identity full time before medical procedures will be carried out.  The length of this varies depending on the procedure.

Trans is an inclusive term for those who identify themselves as transgender or anyone who does not conform to the expectations of their assigned gender at birth, including non-binary and genderqueer.  This term, along with transgender, should be used as an adjective not a noun.

A transgender person or trans person is someone whose idea of their gender differs from their assigned gender.

Transitioning is used to describe the steps that a trans person may take to live in a gender role that matches their true gender identity rather than their assigned gender.  For instance, by changing the name that they want to be known as, by dressing differently and by obtaining voice raining or accessing endocrinology services to effect hormones.  Not everyone that identifies as a trans person will choose to transition.

A trans man is someone who has transitioned from an assigned gender of female to a male gender identity in order to live as a man.  Some may prefer to be men, without the modifier, as they no longer identify as trans, so it is often best to ask.

A transsexual person is an older, more medical, term that may be used by someone that has transitioned.  Many people prefer the terms trans person or transgender person, so it is best to ask.

A transvestite is someone who dresses as the opposite gender for comfort or pleasure.

A trans woman is someone who has transitioned from an assigned gender of male to a female gender identity in order to live as a woman.  Some may prefer to be women, without the modifier, as they no longer identify as trans, so it is often best to ask.

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