Definitions of these terms are not universally agreed upon, nor completely agreed upon within the transgender/gender diverse communities. Different people will understand and define their identities differently. These definitions reflect the current common usage, not an unchangeable standard.
AFAB/AMAB or DFAB/DMAB- Terms meaning ‘Assigned Female at Birth’/’Assigned Male at Birth’ or ‘Designated Female at Birth’/’Designated Male at Birth’. This refers to the gender someone is called when they are born, usually by a doctor. This gender assignment is then reinforced as they grow up by the rest of society, including family, school, etc. It acknowledges that when someone is born they are not able to determine their own gender identity, and thus it is something that others impose upon them.
Gender- refers to an individual’s internal sense of self and how they identify.
Transgender/gender diverse- someone who does not exclusively identify with the gender they were assigned at birth.
Cisgender- someone who does exclusively identify with the gender they were assigned at birth
Non-binary/genderqueer- Someone who does not identify as exclusively male or exclusively female- their gender falls somewhere outside the typical binary of ‘man’ or ‘woman’. This can fall under the umbrella of ‘transgender’, but not all non-binary/genderqueer people label themselves that way.
Coming out- the process through which individuals come to recognise and acknowledge, both privately and publicly, their gender identity. This is a process, not a one-off event, and will look different for everyone. It may involve talking to people directly, writing a letter, posting an update online, or many other approaches.
Gender dysphoria- Intense discomfort or distress around gendered physical characteristics (e.g., body parts, clothing) or words (e.g., pronouns, names) not reflecting one’s preferences. Some trans/gender diverse people experience dysphoria, but not all do.
Cissexism – the discrimination and prejudice faced by transgender/gender diverse people for being transgender/gender diverse
Pronouns- These are words we use instead of people’s names, such as he/him/his, she/her/hers, they/them/theirs, or fae/faer. There are many different pronouns, and it’s best to ask someone what pronouns they prefer, instead of just assuming.
Transition/gender affirmation – The process a person takes to affirm their gender and express their identity in the way that suites them best. This can involve using a different name or different pronouns, dressing differently, telling people what gender one really is, hormone replacement therapy, gender affirmation surgeries, and anything else that someone wants to use to express themselves. This process looks different for everyone, and no one has to do any of the things listed here if they don’t want to.
FtM/ F2M and MtF/ M2F- these expand to ‘female to male’ and ‘male to female’ respectively. These terms are decreasingly used, and many trans/gender diverse people view them as misgendering labels, as they assume that a person used to be a different gender. Some trans/gender diverse people do consider themselves to have ever truly been the gender they were assigned at birth, however they did not always have the language or a safe enough space to explain that.
Transsexual– this is an outdated term that used to be used to refer to transgender people, particularly in a medical or psychiatric context. Some trans/gender diverse people may refer to themselves with this term, but today many find it to be derogatory and offensive.