Reply To: I Declare!

Willow Westbrook


I had no idea where to put this..

I found Trans 101, glossary of trans words and how to use them on the internet.

Sharing here unedited because it may help someone like me that knew they were trans but hadn’t kept up with trends so didn’t know what people meant when they used words like “non-binary”, “Whakatāne”, “Gender Fluid” or “terf”. I was lost, I needed language help.

So without further adieu or gilding the lily, here it is.

Trans 101, glossary of trans words
and how to use them.
We say ‘transgender,’ or ‘trans’ as catch all terms for all gender minorities and people
with diverse sex characteristics, including for example, intersex, transsexual, nonbinary, and takataapui gender diverse people.
”Diverse” means there is much variety, while a ”Minority Group” is a category of
people who are seen as different to the social majority, and are often discriminated
against on that basis, or protected under anti-discrimination legislation.
Gender Minorities Aotearoa acknowledges that language is always evolving, thus some
of the terms here will not fit with how people know themselves to be. This glossary is a
101 guide only, please see links at the bottom of our glossary web page for other
glossaries and interpretations of gender language.
Thank you to our sponsors, International Trans Fund, Rule Foundation, Wellington City
Council, Wellington Community Trust, and to Gloria Fraser for initiating the Rainbow
Mental Health Services research that led to the development of the new kupu in the te
reo Māori section.
Trans 101: glossary of trans words and how to use them, Gender Minorities Aotearoa,
Wellington New Zealand, 2020.
Contents [62 lines].
Cis, Cisgender, Cissexual.
Gender Expression /presentation.
Sex Characteristics.
The Sex Binary.
The Gender Binary.
Trans Woman.
Trans Man.
Sexual Orientation.
Asexual Orientation.
Queens, Drag Queens, Drag Kings.
Gender Fluid, Bigender.
Neutrois and Agender.
Gender Dysphoria.
Cissexism, Cissupremacy.
Bottom Surgery, SRS, GRS.
Tāhine/Ira tāhūrua-kore.
Tangata ira wahine.
Tangata ira tāne.
Whakaputa ā-ira.
Whakamana ira.
Tuakiri ā-ira.
Tīrengi ā-ira.
Tikanga ā-ira whānui.
Rerekētanga āhuatanga ā-ira.
Huri ā-ira.
Mae irawhiti, or mae irahuri.
Content begins.
Gender or Gender Identity (same same).
One’s actual, internal sense of being male or female, neither of these, both, etc. In
some circles, gender identity is falling out of favour, as one does not simply identify as
a gender, but is that gender.
An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs
from what is culturally typically associated with the gender/sex they were assigned at
birth. People under the transgender umbrella may describe themselves using one or
more of a wide variety of terms or may simply use transgender. Some of those terms
are defined below.Some people who fit this definition may not consider themselves to
be under the transgender unbrella or transgender. Use the descriptive term preferred
by the individual.
Many transgender people are prescribed hormones by their doctors to change their
bodies. Some undergo surgery as well. But not all transgender people can or will want
to take those steps, and a transgender identity is not dependent upon medical
procedures. The term transgender is not indicative of sexual orientation, hormonal
makeup, physical anatomy, or how one is perceived in daily life.
An older term coined by clinicians. Still preferred by some people who have changed
or seek to change their bodies – this can involve hormone replacement therapy (HRT),
genital reconstruction surgery (GRS), top surgery (removal of breasts), permanent
facial and other hair removal, and/or other medical treatments.
In some circles, the term has started to fall out of favour due to its perceived focus on
medical transition, however, those who prefer transsexual often see it as an important
distinction due to the definitive experience of incongruity/dissonance/dysphoria with
one’s body, which is often the cause of specific medical needs.
Unlike transgender, transsexual is not an umbrella term. Many transgender people do
not identify as transsexual and many transsexual people do not identify as
It is best to ask which term an individual prefers. If preferred, use as an adjective: for
example transsexual woman, transsexual man, non-binary transsexual person.
Trans is used as an abbreviation of either transgender or transsexual, or as an
umbrella in the same way that transgender is used.
Some non-binary and other gender non-conforming people use trans* (with the
asterisk, pronounced tran-star) to indicate that they’re definitely not cis, but not
necessarily a trans woman/man either.
Some use it as a broad umbrella of inclusivity. Others see trans* as unnecessary due to
trans and transgender already existing as umbrella terms which capture all non-cis
identities. In some areas trans* is gaining popularity while in others popularity is
rapidly declining.
Cis, Cisgender and Cissexual.
Prefix or adjective that means not trans. Cisgender people identify more or less with
the gender assigned to them at birth. In discussions regarding trans issues, one would
differentiate between women who are trans and women who aren’t by saying trans
women and cis women. Cis is not an insult, but a neutral descriptor – much like
heterosexual is to homosexual.
Gender Expression or Presentation.
The physical expression of one’s gender through clothing, hairstyle, voice, make up,
body shape, etc. Most transgender people seek to make their gender expression (how
they look) match their gender (who they are).
The system for assignment and classification of people as male or female based on
imprecise perceptions of their physical anatomy – generally the appearance of their
external genitalia at birth. Sex is not fixed or immutable, and no single criterion (e.g.
genitals, chromosomes, hormones, fertility) definitively describes one’s bodily shape
or configuration.
Sex characteristics.
Sex characteristics include external genitalia, gonads or reproductive organs and
fertility, gamates, chromosomes, sex hormones. Secondary sex characteristics include
breast development, patterns of hair growth such as facial hair and body hair, voice
development, and may be said to include many other features of developmemt based
on sex characteristics. These can be natal or may change later, including through
medical treatments.
The Sex Binary.
An incorrect system of viewing sex as consisting solely of two categories, termed male
and female, with two sets of matching chromosomes, hormone levels, reproductive
organs, and secondary sex characteristics. The sex binary assumes that sex is
immutable biological fact and asserts that no other possibilities or anatomy are
believed to exist, or should be allowed to exist.
This system is oppressive, and is a cause of marginalisation for people who do not fit
within the sex binary, including many trans and intersex people.
A.F.A.B. and A.M.A.B. (sometimes C.A.F.A.B. and C.A.M.A.B.).
Acronyms meaning assigned female at birth or assigned male at birth. When
the ‘C’ is added, it stands for ‘coercively’.
In cases when it’s necessary to refer to the birth-assigned sex of a trans person, this is
the best way to do it.
The Gender Binary.
Similar to the sex binary, the gender binary is an incorrect system of viewing gender as
consisting solely of two categories, termed male and female, in which no other
possibilities for gender or anatomy are believed to exist. Gender is not fixed or
immutable, and no physical criterion (e.g. genitals, chromosomes, hormones) defines
one’s gender. Gender is experiential, and only the person themself can define their
gender. The gender binary system is oppressive, and is a cause of marginalisation for
people who do not fit within the gender binary.
Trans Woman.
Trans woman refers to a woman who was assigned male at birth.
She may or may not be identified by others as trans, and may or may not identify
herself as trans. It is grammatically and definitionally correct to include a space
between trans and woman.
Trans Man.
Trans man refers to a man who was assigned female at birth.
He may or may not be identified by others as trans, and may or may not identify
himself as trans. It is grammatically and definitionally correct to include a space
between trans and man.
Used as an adjective to describe the binary genders female/woman/girl or
Preferred umbrella term for all genders other than female/woman/girl or
male/man/boy. Use as an adjective (e.g. Elsa is a binary trans woman and Jesse is nonbinary).
Transitioning from being seen as one’s birth assigned gender to one’s actual
gender. Transition generally initially includes social elements such as changing one’s
clothes, hair, name (socially and maybe legally), changing the gender marker on one’s
legal documents, binding breasts or wearing breast forms, etc. It may also include
medical treatments such laser hair
removal, hormone replacement therapy, or various surgeries.
There is no wrong way to transition, and no singular right way.
Sexual Orientation.
A person’s enduring physical, romantic, emotional and/or spiritual attraction to
others. Gender identity and sexual orientation are not the same.
Trans people can be heterosexual, gay, lesbian, pansexual, queer, etc. just like anyone
else. For example, a trans woman who is primarily attracted to other women may
identify as lesbian.
Asexual Orientation.
A person’s enduring physical, romantic, emotional and/or spiritual attraction to
An asexual person is not primarily
motivated by sexual drive and sexual attractions, though they may experience sexual
attraction in some circumstances or have sexual
relationships for a vast number of different reasons other than primary sexual
Currently being redefined by bisexual rights activists to mean that one is
attracted to both their own gender, as well as other genders. This better reflects the
experience of many bisexual people (rather than simply attracted to binary men and
binary women).
In common use, most bisexual people identify as being attracted to men
and women. Some bisexual rights activists say this interpretation is
‘biphobia’, or stigma against bisexuals, erasing their attraction to non-binary people.
However, as it is bisexuals themselves who commonly identify as being attracted to
men and women, this is an ongoing topic of debate.
Bisexuality is believed by some to be the most common sexual orientation, more
common than heterosexuality. This is due to pervasive instances of
people identifying as heterosexual at times but bisexual when safe to do so.
Pansexual means being open to attraction to people of any gender, and inherently,
explicitly includes transgender and non-binary genders.
Some pansexuals experience attractions based on characteristics other than gender.
Some experience gender as a primary part of their attractions, but they have these
attractions to people of all genders. Pansexual does not necessarily mean without
In the time when ‘bisexual’ was broadly understood to mean ”attraction to both males
and females”, those who wanted to acknowledge being attracted also to non-binary
people, or whose own gender was non-binary or trans, coined the term pansexual.
There is some conflict between pansexual and bisexual activists. While some texts will
say that pansexual is under ‘the bisexual umbrella’ or ‘part of the bisexual community’,
others will say bisexual comes under the broader ‘pansexual
Some bisexual rights activists claim that pansexual is a biphobic identity that erases
their non-binary attraction. Some pansexual rights activists claim that this position
assumes pansexuality is not a legitimate sexual orientation, and is thus panphobic.
Be cautious when discussing pansexual and bisexual in relation to one another.
Heteroflexible or Homoflexible.
Similar to bisexual or pansexual, but with a stated heterosexual or homosexual
preference respectively.
Heteroflexible indicayes that one is primarily interested in heterosexual relationships
but is “flexible” when it comes to sexual activities.
Homoflexible, indicates that one is primarily interested in homosexual relationships
but is “flexible” when it comes to sexual activities.
A person who sees trans people (usually trans women) as inherently sexual, and
sexually objectifies them. As opposed to someone who simply is predominantly
attracted to trans women; a chaser
does not view trans women respectfully as whole people with humanity and agency,
but rather as players in a sexual fantasy.
Heteronormative or Heteronormativity.
This refers to the deeply held institutional beleif that relationships
between heterosexual masculine cis men and heterosexual feminine cis
women are normal/natural/right, while all other relationships are
viewed as abnormal/inferior/wrong. It refers to systems and society being structured
around this assumptiom.
Broadly used to indicate that one rejects heteronormativity and is not
heterosexual – though sometimes queer is also used by heterosexual transgender
Queer is inherently political; rejecting enforced heterosexual narratives,
and rejecting assimilationist homonormative respectability politics
that reinforce them. In more simple terms, queer rejects ”we’re just
like you” as the reason LGBTI+ people should have rights.
The term ”Queer” was originally a slur reclaimed by Black, trans, disabled, HIV+, and
other more marginalised rainbow people (particularly people of
colour) who could not and did not assimilate into mainstream white
gay culture that heterosexuals found more palatable.
‘Queer’ was a response to white gay, lesbian, and bisexual people who didn’t
respect them, and were happy to throw their rights under the bus to distance
themselves from ”the radical queers”
as ”the respectable ones”.
Queer is sometimes used as an umbrella term to mean LGBTI+, or ‘not
heterosexual and/or not cisgender’, though many queer people reject this. Because of
the non-heterosexual connotation, many heterosexual trans people do not like to be
called queer and may see this as being misgendered
and called homosexual.
The word queer has long been used as a slur, so although it is commonly reclaimed, be
a little cautious with its use.
Similar to queer, but more specific to rejecting binary genders.
Those who identify as genderqueer may identify as neither male nor female, may
see themselves as outside of or in between the binary gender boxes,
or may simply feel restricted by gender labels. Some genderqueer people do identify
within the binary (e.g. “genderqueer woman”), but reject the conventions and
expectations associated with that gender.
A rejection of labeling one’s physical body as female or male. Being sexqueer is not
indicative of one’s current anatomy, birth assignment, or birth anatomy, and should
definitely not be confused with intersex. (next page)
Describes a a range of conditions where person has a variation of sex characteristics
from birth (as opposed to through taking hormones or having surgeries). Variations of
sex characteristics means their sex characteristics are ambiguous in the context of the
male/female sex binary.
A person may not know they have an intersex condition until they reach puberty and
their body changes differently than expected, however most people who are
diagnosed with an intersex condition were diagnosed at birth.
When an intersex infant is born with ambiguous external genitalia, parents
and clinicians typically assign them a binary sex and perform surgical operations to
conform the infant’s body to that assignment.
This practice is oppressive and is increasingly recognised as unethical and abusive; as
intersex adults are speaking out against having been made to undergo potentially
harmful medical procedures which they did not consent to.
Being intersex does not necessarily imply anything regarding one’s gender, anatomy,
orientation, or trans status.
Most commonly used to describe someone who primarily identifies with their birth
assigned gender, but enjoys dressing as other genders.
Cross-dressing is a form of gender expression and for many, this is
an integral part of their identity. Cross dressing is not necessarily tied to erotic activity,
nor is it indicative of one’s sexual orientation.
Do NOT use this term to describe someone unless they self identify with this word.
Queens, Drag Queens, Drag Kings, Drag.
Drag queens and drag kings are cross-dressing performers who take on stylised,
exaggerated gender presentations for show. For many, this is also an integral part of
their identity.
Historically, before the term ”transsexual” was coined in the 1970’s, the term drag
queen or simply ‘Queen’
referred to trans women, whereas men who cross dressed as women exclusively for
performance were called ‘butch queens’. Many older trans women in New Zealand still
prefer the term Queen, however others may see this as an insult. Use with extreme
caution, and always follow the trans person’s lead.
Gender Fluid, bigender.
These are non-binary gender identities that indicate shifting between
different genders or presentations. They are similarly used by those who feel they have
both male and female sides to their personalities, such as some drag queens, some
drag kings, and some cross-dressers. Do not confuse these terms with Two-Spirit – a
gender identity specific to certain Native American and First Nations cultures.
Neutrois and Agender.
One who feels neutral in their gender or who rejects the influence of gender on their
person. Sometimes the term ‘nongendered’ is used similarly.
Identifying as neutrois or agender is
not indicative of one’s anatomy, birth assignment, or pronoun use, and can be used in
conjunction with another gender
signifier, for example neutrois woman.
A peson who feels both masculine and feminine, or who has a gender expression with
both masculine and feminine characteristics. Again, only use this term if it is the
person’s own self identification.
An identity or presentation of non-heteronormative, reclaimed, queer
femininity. Femme can be an adjective (he’s a femme boy), a verb (she loves to femme
up), or a noun (they’re a femme).
Although commonly associated with feminine lesbian/queer women, it’s used by
many to describe a distinct gender identity and/or expression, and
does not necessarily imply that one also identifies as a woman.
An identity or presentation of non-heteronormative, reclaimed, queer
masculinity. Butch can be an adjective (she’s a butch woman), a verb (he went home
to butch up), or a noun (they identify as a
Although commonly associated with masculine queer/lesbian women, it’s used by
many to describe a distinct
gender identity and/or expression, and does not necessarily imply that one also
identifies as a woman.
Gender Dysphoria.
Clinical term referring to dissonance between one’s assigned gender and/or
one’s body, and one’s personal sense of self. Prior to the DSM-V, the term “gender
identity disorder” was used, but that was removed as it often led to gender variance
being stigmatised and
misdiagnosed as a pathological condition.
‘Gender Dysphoria’ is now similarly being moved away from, in favor of ‘Gender
Fear, discomfort, distrust, or hatred directed towards trans people or trans concepts.
This word is used similarly to homophobia, etc. Some transphobia is based in ideas
about naturalness, realness, and misconceptions around scientific fact or biology.
Some transphobia is based in religeous ideologies. Some transphobia is
based on ideas of gendrerd oppression revolving around reproductive
capacity (gender essentialism). There are many factors which contribute to
The combination of misogyny, or hatred of women, with transphobia. A key aspect is
the double bind – trans
women are presumed to embody the worst of “masculinity” – sexually aggressive or
predatory, violent, and domineering, when that is convenient for those who would
mistreat them, but are also treated with the worst of misogyny – as objects to be used,
agency, hypersexualised, as though their existence is too seductive, and as though
they are over emotional and irrational – when that is convenient for those who would
mistreat them.
The result of this stigma is discrimination and violence (including intimate partner and
sexual violence), at much higher rates than women in the general population.
In a patriarchal society it is seen as a threat to masculinity and to the power of men
when people who could have been men reject manhood in favor of a lower status
position – womanhood. As such, trans women are often treated with abjection, or
transmisogyny, both
interpersonally and structurally.
It is also in the best interest of those who would mistreat trans women to ensure that
society sees trans women in this way, so there are dedicated anti-trans extremists
manufacturing misinformation constantly.
Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminism, or ‘Fundamentalist Feminism’, is a small but
very vocal sub section of ‘Radical Feminism’. Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminism is
generally focused on removing human rights, legal protections, access to medical
treatments, and supportive social environments for transgender people. Their core
beleif is biological essentialism – the incorrect idea that biology is fixed and
unchangable, and superceeds culture, social influences, and everything else. They
believe that to be classified as a woman, one must have the biology from birth which
would enable them to bear children. This contradicts their other claims that ‘woman’
is an experience of oppression under patriarchy, which by definition would include
trans women.
Fundamentalist feminists also tend to be anti-sex worker’s rights, anti-kink,
anti-vaccination, anti-pharmaceuticals, and may be anti-contraceptives and antichoice in relation to abortion.
Fundamentalist feminists have strong links to primitivism, ‘’back to nature’’,
fundamentalist western family values, and sometimes fundamentalist religeous
While not all anti-trans extremists are TERFs, all TERFs are anti-trans extermists, which
is our preferred terminology.
Cissexism and Cissupremacy.
Bias in favor of cis people over trans people, or beliefs that cis people are inherently
superior to trans, more real, more natural, etc. This often refers to systems which
advantage cis people over trans people or unconscious systems of thought, rather
than transphobic individuals
Being read is the gender one wishes to be read as (usually used in a binary
cisgender context). The term ‘passing’
is falling out of fashion as it is seen to imply that one should desire to look cisgender.
Bottom Surgery, SRS, or GRS.
Bottom surgery, Sexual Reconstruction Surgery (SRS) or Genital Reconstruction
Surgery (GRS), refer to several different types of gender affirmation or transition
related surgical procedures which alter the patients genitalia.
These terms are preferred over “sex change operation” or anything with
“reassignment.” Not all transgender people choose to or can afford to have GRS.
Overemphasising the importance of GRS to the transition or affirmation process
should be avoided.
Te Reo Māori:
NB: Te reo Māori words are more correctly spelled with a macron (Māori) rather than a
double letter (Maaori). However, as many of our resources are online, and using
macrons online can be problematic, we sometimes use double letters instead of
macrons. It is more important that you pronounce the long ‘ā’ sound, than it is that
you use a macron. It is OK to use double letters if you can’t use macrons.
Takataapui, or Takatāpui.
Takatāpui refers to Māori who are not heterosexual and/or not cisgender.
It is used both as a gender identity (similar to transgender), as an
attraction or sexual orientation (similar to lesbian, gay, bi, or pansexual). It is also
used as an umbrella term for all
non-heterosexual and/or non-cisgender Māori people (similar to ‘Rainbow
Takatāpui – Rainbow Māori.
Often used to roughly mean ”rainbow
person” or ”rainbow community”, in a similar way to LGBTQI+.
Some say it is specific to Māori, others use it for all LGBTQI+ people broadly, as simply
te reo Māori for rainbow people.
Māori culture has traditionally included and celebrated people of all genders, and their
relationships to people of any gender. Māori culture includes all Māori people.
Despite Aotearoa becoming a British colony in 1840, and the resulting laws
and value systems being hostile to takatāpui both historically and
today; tikanga Māori continues to awhi and embrace takatāpui whānau.
At it’s core, takatāpui is a Māori concept that sits within Māori culture, with it’s own
history and wairua, one very different to terms such as LGBTQI+.
There is no direct English translation, but these are some whakāro or ideas for
Takataapui – Māori Genders.
Takataapui is used more specifically for Māori genders, including those on the next
Takataapui is often used as a gender of it’s self – Māori transgender not-otherwisespecified. Some also use takatāpui to refer to non-Māori who are transgender and/or
Takatāpui – Attractions, Relationships, or Sexual Orientations. It is also used to refer
to wahine moe wahine (women who sleep with women), tāne moe tāne (men who
sleep with men).
A takatāpui person may fit the definitions or behaviours of a lesbian,
pansexual, gay, bisexual, asexual, transgender, or intersex person, (etc.), but may not
identify with western concepts or English words for these.
Tāhine, or ira tāhūrua-kore.
Mixed gender, non-binary, or transgender not-otherwise-specified. Outside of the
Trans woman, or to become a woman.
Tangata ira wahine.
Trans woman, or with the spirit or gender of woman.
Trans man, or to become a man.
Tangata ira tāne.
Trans man, or with the spirit or gender of man.
Whakaputa ā-ira.
Gender expression.
Whakamana ira.
Gender affirming, or to have pride in ones gender.
Tuakiri ā-ira.
Gender identity.
Tīrengi ā-ira.
Gender dysphoria or anxiety.
Tikanga ā-ira whānui.
Gender norms.
Rerekētanga āhuatanga ā-ira.
Variations of sex characteristics.
Transgender, or gender that changes, transfers, or crosses over.
Cisgender, or permanent fixed gender.
Agender, or no gender.
GenderQueer, or different gender.
Gender diverse.
Huri ā-ira.
Gender fluidity.
Gender fluid, or to turn, change, or move gender. Sometimes this can also mean
Mae irawhiti, or Mae irahuri.
Anti-trans, or transphobia.
NB: Many of these words are new; takatāpui, whakawahine, and whakatāne are older
words, tāhine was coined in 2014, and many of the others were developed in 2019.
[Content ends.]
Publishing details.
Gender Minorities Aotearoa’s Glossary is free to use – reference as below. Please link to
our web page if possible.
Not for profit.
Originally published 2017.
This Edition Copyright 2020.
Trans 101: Glossary of trans words and how to use them, Gender Minorities Aotearoa,
Wellington New Zealand, 2020.
Nods to:
Erin’s Trans Glossary
New Zealand Prostitutes’ Collective‘s
Doing it in Style
GLAAD Media Reference Guide 9th edition.

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