Understanding Terms: A Glossary of Terms You Need to Know When Dating a Trans Person

When you decide to first start dating a transgender person you may be exposed to lingo that you do not understand. Have no fear! This handy glossary of terms you need to know will help you to not appear awkward or say the wrong thing! The key, no matter what, is to use common decency. Understanding the meaning of words that are utilized by the trans community is an important part of the dating experience.

While this is not a comprehensive guide, this glossary is definitely a great place to start.

Let’s start with the basics.

Transgender: an umbrella term for individuals who feel their gender identity or the way they express their gender does not conform with the gender expectations placed upon them by the sex they were designated at birth.

Transsexual: though this term has been accompanied by a lot of stigma, some trans people still use it. Transsexual has generally been used to refer to transgender individuals who seek to change their bodies, appearances, and sometimes voices to reflect the gender with which they identify. These changes may occur through taking hormones or surgical interventions, though this is not required.

Gender Binary: the social construct of gender, which predominantly dominates Western culture, and divides gender into a two-gender or binary system of identification. The only two legitimate genders in this system are male and female. The binary is oppressive by nature to most trans-identified individuals, as it fails to recognize any forms of identification that fall between the binary genders. Some transsexuals follow this binary system when identifying themselves, as someone assigned female at birth who transitions and identifies as a male.

Non-Binary: any gender expression, identity, or lack of gender that does not conform to the two gender binary system. People who identify as non-binary do not see themselves as women or men. Some people see themselves as a blend of both genders or of masculinity and femininity, while others may not identify with any gender. Others may feel aspects of masculinity or maleness some days, and aspects of femaleness or femininity other days.

Gender Expression: the way a person demonstrates or expresses their gender. Gender can be expressed through clothing, behaviors, gestures, body modifications including haircuts/hairstyles, hormones, and surgical interventions, other accoutrements such as makeup and jewelry, and/or through social roles and expectations.

Bigender: a gender identity in which the individual identifies with two or more genders.

Androgynous: a way a person’s gender is presented that falls between male and female, which may blend the two genders.

Gender Neutral: not referring to any specific gender.

Biological Sex: In the gender binary system of identification, biological sex is a social construct that was developed to identify individuals as either male or female based on their chromosomes, their genitalia, or both. This term is often used in oppressive and discriminatory ways, and often makes trans identified individuals uncomfortable.

Chaser: someone who seeks out trans people to date them or have sex with them, usually because they had fetishized trans individuals.

Body Dysphoria: a strong sense of unhappiness and undue stress in relation to how a person views their own body. It is often caused when a person’s gender identity does not match with how their physical appearance labels them in a binary world.

Gender Dysphoria: a strong sense of unhappiness, stress, discomfort, or negative feelings about oneself because a person’s gender identity and their assigned sex at birth do not match. This often includes body dysphoria, but it can also include social aspects of dysphoria, as well.

Gender Fluid: individuals who have gender identities that can change from day to day or over time.

Genderqueer: this is often viewed as an umbrella term for anyone who has a gender identity that does not fit the gender binary

Cisgender: a person whose gender identity and expression matches the gender they were assigned at birth

Heteronormativity: a belief that the default is heterosexuality, which expects individuals within the binary cultural system to identify as cisgender and hetero-romantic.

Preferred Pronouns/Correct Pronouns: the pronouns with which any individual prefers to use when identifying themselves, and having others identify them

Cishet: often used to denote a person who identifies as cisgender and heterosexual

Misgender: to incorrectly label someone with the wrong gender identification or pronouns

Demigender: a non-binary form of gender identification or expression where the individual identifies partially with a specific gender and partially as non-binary. Such identifications may include demigirl (partially female, partially non-binary) or demiboy/demiguy (partially male, partially non-binary).

Neutrois: a non-binary form of gender identification or expression where the individual identifies with a gender that is neutral. This is sometimes referred to as the neutral third gender.

Tucking: a means of tucking the penis back, by AMAB (assigned male at birth) trans individuals, to make it less visibly prominent

Gaff: a term for underwear that is used for tucking

Packer: a prosthetic penis, soft molded dildo, or other phallic shaped device often worn in the undershorts of trans men or trans AFAB (assigned female at birth) individuals who identify with masculinity

Stand-to-pee/STP: a device, often in the same shape as a packer, which allows trans men or transmasculine AFAB individuals to stand while urinating

Passing: to successfully be perceived by others as the binary gender with which one identifies. Passing is often embedded deeply with privilege, and many find the entire concept problematic. At the same time, in a climate where transgender people are at high risk of violence, passing can sometimes be life-saving, and many people may try to pass simply to protect themselves.

AFAB: an acronym for assigned female at birth… sometimes also referred to as DFAB, with the “D“ meaning designated

AMAB: an acronym for assigned male at birth…sometimes also referred to as DMAB, with the “D” meaning designated

FTM/F2M: an acronym for female to male (often used in relation to gender transition)

MTF/M2F: an acronym for male to female (often used in relation to gender transition)

HRT: an acronym for hormone replacement therapy

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