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Terminology and glossary


Learning the Lingo for Youth

PDF: Learning the Lingo

Sexual Orientation

Who you are attracted to. Some common sexual orientations are queer, gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual and heterosexual.

Gender Identity

Who you are, not who you like or are attracted to. It is how you feel you were born to be–masculine, feminine or somewhere in between. This identity doesn’t always match up with your biological sex, or the gender you were assigned at birth.

Gender Dysphoria

Feeling extremely uncomfortable (persistently in distress) with your physical sex characteristics or your sex assigned at birth.

Gender Expression

The way a person presents themselves to the world through clothing, hairstyles, toys and other preferences. Most people’s gender expression matches up and/or is congruent with their physical sex characteristics or birth sex.

Gender Variant

This occurs when your gender identity or expression is different from your physical sex characteristics or birth sex.

Gender Fluid/Gender Queer

Someone who identifies as both male and female at once or at different times, or a someone who identifies as neither male or female, but somewhere in between.


This is a term we use to acknowledge the gender identity of a person. They are not changing their gender. We are changing our perceptions of a person by what he or she has told us/expressed to us.

Affirmed Female (mtf or m2f)

A person who was assigned male at birth but identifies as female.

Affirmed Male- (ftm or f2m)

A person who was assigned female at birth but identifies as male.

Social Transition

A change in appearance and or presentation in order to express your gender identity (usually changes in clothing, hair or makeup).

Medical Transition

Medical intervention to alter the physical/sexual characteristics of your body in order to affirm your gender identity.

Puberty Inhibitors

A group of drugs that are prescribed by an Endocrinologist to suppress or stop the production of estrogen or testosterone in a gender variant child. Doing this in early puberty will prevent many unwanted secondary sexual characteristics, such as breast development and facial hair.

Hormone Treatment (HRT)

Introduction of hormones by a health care provider to help develop the desired secondary sexual characteristics associated with a person’s gender identity. Some effects of this treatment may not be reversible.

Sexual Reassignment Surgery (SRS), Gender Reconstructive Surgery (GRS), top surgery, bottom surgery

Surgical procedures that alter one’s anatomy in order to make the body congruent with their gender identity. Surgical procedures are typically irreversible.

PDF: Learning the Lingo