‘Trans’ is an umbrella term widely used to cover a variety of issues relating to gender identity. It includes the following terms, which apply widely in the UK:
Intersex: A person with a combination of sex characteristics - chromosomes, genitals or reproductive organs - neither solely male nor female. Until recently they would usually undergo genital surgery at a young age to given them characteristics which are clearly either male or female. Medical professionals are now more likely to advise waiting until the child is older and able to provide informed consent to surgery, because of the implications surgery can have on future health and function.
Non-binary/non-gender: A person who does not identify as ‘male’ or ‘female’.
Assigned gender: The sex (male or female) assigned at birth based on physical characteristics.
Gender identity: The gender with which a person associates themselves.
Gender presentation: How a person outwardly shows their gender, e.g. clothing, personal grooming.
Gender dysphoria: A diagnosis used by health professionals, which is defined as the experiencing of discomfort or distress because there is a mismatch between one’s biological sex and one’s gender identity. A medical condition which describes the symptoms of being transgender.
Transgender: Having a gender identity which differs from assigned gender. This is often shortened to ‘trans’.
Trans+ (“trans plus”) is often used nowadays to indicate a broad gender conflict, and is perceived as being a positive term that includes not only transgender people but also those who identify as non-binary or as being physically intersex.
Transsexual: A term used by some people who permanently change their bodies, usually, but not always, using hormones or surgery. The term ‘transgender’ is now in more common usage and is generally to be preferred.
Transitioning: A person changing their gender presentation to bring it into alignment with their gender identity. Transitioning may involve various types of medical treatment, to bring a person’s physical characteristics more into conformity with their gender identity and presentation. This is also known as ‘gender confirmation’ or (now less commonly) ‘gender reassignment’. Transitioning need not involve any form of medical intervention.
Acquired gender/Affirmed gender
: A person’s gender after transitioning.