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When it comes to the complexities of gender and culture, it's inevitable that no two people are the same. Language changes over time, and many labels hold different meanings depending on an individual's experience and social context. This list is not exhaustive.

Transgender Person

Someone whose gender identity differs to what they were assigned at birth. A transgender person may affirm themselves through medical treatments (hormones, surgery, etc), but not necessarily.

Transsexual Person

Someone who has transitioned towards another sex, which differs from their assigned sex at birth. I consider myself a female-to-male transsexual because the core of my journey has been about altering my sex to reflect my gender, alleviate my dysphoria, and align my sex characteristics with the majority of men. Where labels like "homosexual" refer to sexual orientation, "transsexual" instead refers to the transitioning of a person's sex characteristics. Not all transsexual people transition to the same extent. Some transsexual men have bottom surgery, for example, but not all.

However, the term can be used in more complex ways. Ben, interviewed in Jess T. Dugan's series To Survive On This Shore, explains his identity by saying, "I identify as an FTM, non-hormone, non-op, transsexual heterosexual man." And I personally befriended a non-binary transsexual woman, assigned male at birth, who valued her non-binary identity as passionately as she valued living and identifying as a woman. So there are a lot of us, youngsters and elders, who fit under the transsexual label.

On a personal note, I was held back from identifying as my most authentic self (a transsexual man) because transgender-identifying people repeatedly told me that the word transsexual is always bad, is completely relegated to history, and should never be used by modern-day trans people. I had to unlearn that misinformation in order to embrace the only label which truly validates my transition experience. So, while the term transsexual should never be applied to someone who does not identify with it (as with most identity labels) please be aware that transsexual is perfectly fine as a self-identifier. If you see someone identifying themselves as a transsexual, leave them be! And please stop spreading the rhetoric that nobody identifies as a transsexual nowadays.

At the time of writing, even GLAAD states that the entire trans community has "rejected" the label (because we're all a monolith, right?), before offhandedly mentioning that some people still identify as transsexuals. And my label, which is so precious and ought to be validated, is shoved down below their list of gender terms and displayed in the same list as the term "TERF". If you see that kind of rhetoric out in the world, which treats transsexual people as being less valid than transgender people, please speak up. Nobody should be held back from finding the label which makes them happiest.


A shorthand for transgender or transsexual.

Trans Man

A man who was assigned female at birth, but who experiences a male gender. All kinds of trans men exist, including those who (like me) identify as FTM transsexuals. Others medically transition but prefer the term "transgender" regardless. Some do not take testosterone or undergo any surgeries. All trans men have unique journeys.


An acronym for "female-to-male". I describe myself as an FTM transsexual because I transitioned my sex characteristics to align with the majority of men. Some FTM guys do not transition medically but still use this acronym to reflect the fact that they are socially and culturally transitioning into men. Some trans men do not like the FTM acronym being applied to them in real-world situations, so it should only be directly used if a guy has indicated that he identifies with it. Regardless, the FTM label is used on this site because it is a part of trans male history and identity.


An umbrella term for experiences that are outside of the male/female gender binary. Non-binary can also function as a distinct identity, if someone does not wish to label their gender any further than that. The term is sometimes shortened to "enby". So, a person might say, "I'm an enby" if they are non-binary. However, this shortened version is not used by everyone, and some people are uncomfortable with it. To learn more about what non-binary means, check out this article.

Gender Dysphoria

A sense of distress caused by a misalignment between a person's true gender and the gender that they were assigned at birth. A trans man might experience a dysphoric reaction if referred to as "she" or "her", as he is being misgendered. Such a dysphoric reaction can manifest as anxiety, anger, and distress, which is partly why it is so important to refer to trans men (and all trans people) correctly. Many trans people start to experience body dysphoria (a sense that one's own body is inconguent with one's gender) around puberty, when secondary sex characteristics start to develop.

A trans man having gender dysphoria does not mean he necessarily wishes to undergo a "complete" medical transition, the notion of a complete transition being utterly arbitrary anyway. Every trans man with dysphoria has different needs when it comes to affirming his maleness and alleviating dysphoria. Some trans men need bottom surgery to alleviate dysphoria, some do not. Some trans men need top surgery to alleviate dysphoria, some do not. Some trans men need hormone replacement therapy (testosterone) to alleviate dysphoria, some do not. Some trans men with dysphoria never medically transition at all, whether because they can't safely access medical affirmation or because that is simply the best choice in their lives. Everyone's gender affirmation looks different.


An acronym for "assigned female at birth". This can be a shorthand way of referring to a whole population who may have shared experiences/needs, especially in contexts such as reproductive healthcare or community resources, where unifying identifiers have value. However, in conversation and in real-world situations, many trans people dislike being labelled as AFAB or AMAB. People use a range of different words to describe their pasts/backgrounds. I personally prefer the terms "female-born" and "born female", but many trans men are not comfortable with such terms.


An umbrella term for trans men and other AFAB people who identify with the label. Some butches consider themselves transmasc. Not all AFAB gender-diverse people identify as transmasc, because the centre of their identities may not be masculine or because the term doesn't really describe their journey. I'm one such man. Transmasculinity isn't a term we're all personally comfortable with, in terms of our own identities, but it is a unifying label for many in our community and it is important.

Two Spirit

According to this resource, Two Spirit is "an umbrella term that encompasses a number of understandings of gender and sexuality among many Indigenous North Americans". Craftsperson Aodhan Crawford writes, "I was born female, I am Tar-ghnèitheach or Crossed-Souled, Two Spirit. Although I live my masculine life I rely on my lessons from my years as Erica, to be the person I am today. This balance helps me perform my community duties as I can do the work of both Men and Women."


A Brotherboy is a First Nations person (from the land now called Australia) who was assigned female at birth, but who lives their life through their "boy spirit". Brotherboys can be trans men and transmasculine non-binary people, and can have unique genders not experienced by individuals disconnected from First Nations culture. Not all Brotherboys identify with concepts like "binary" and "non-binary". You can learn more here.


The clearest picture of the Onabe community (certainly for a Westerner like myself) comes from Shinjuku Boys (1995), a documentary about three Onabe in Tokyo. One interviewee named Gaish says, "I don't think I'm a girl, and I don't think I'm a boy... There are all kinds of Onabe... If people say I'm in-between, that's okay." Whereas Tatsu, another interviewee who is hormonally transitioning, consistently describes himself as a man and has a very different experience to Gaish. From what I have been able to read online, the term Onabe is used by trans men, masculine lesbians, female crossdressers, and "women who live as men". Many people find the word Onabe to be offensive, so it should only be used if someone identifies with it. Regardless, it is featured on this site because it is a part of Japanese gender-diverse history and identity. You can learn more about the term here and here.


To get an understanding of the word butch, I recommend checking out this link, which explores the history of the term. This video, featuring prolific butch photographer SD Holman, is also a gorgeous exploration of butchness through several interviewees. I highly recommend Holman's book Butch: Not Like The Other Girls, which really opened my eyes to butch diversity, and emphasised to me that butchness is a nuanced, complex, diverse term used by many different people. Holman's identity, clarified here, is "butch, genderqueer, leather dyke". Some, including a butch in this video, have top surgery to feel comfortable and authentic. Some, including the butches in this thread, identify as transmasculine. In this post-top surgery video, a butch explains, "I am butch, I just also happen to be non-binary, trans, transmasculine, gender non-conforming, genderqueer... These are all words that work for me, that feel good to me."

While many butches do not consider themselves gender-diverse/transmasc and might be offended if such labels were applied to them without them identifying that way, some butches evidently do, which means that butch media belongs on this site.

Holman's book Butch: Not Like The Other Girls includes two trans women, both of whom started to identify with butchness after transitioning, and who were welcomed by Holman as being part of the butch community. However, this site is focussed on AFAB gender diversity specifically. That being said, anyone is welcome to browse this site and see what media they relate to!


Someone whose gender identity matches what they were assigned at birth. Basically, the majority of the human population. Cisgender people do not actively identify as cisgender, per se, it is just used as a way to differentiate trans people from the rest of the population. The prefix "cis" is Latin and means "on the same side of". When combined with gender, "cis" therefore means that a person's gender remains the same as what it was declared to be at birth. The term helps to avoid stigmatising sentences like "trans people and normal people", which inherently labels trans people as being abnormal, or "trans men and real men", which labels trans men as not being real men.

Trans and Gender-Diverse

This is an inclusive shorthand which includes transgender people, transsexual people, non-binary people, and First Nations people with gender identities/experiences that are unique to their culture. For example, the identity of Brotherboy is both a cultural and gender identity which can only be experienced by Aboriginal people (who come from the land now called Australia) or Torres Strait Islander people, and some Brotherboys may not use terms like transgender or transsexual, yet they still have a unique gender experience which deserves to be talked about and included. Saying "trans and gender-diverse", "TGD", or just "gender-diverse" is inclusive of such people, and also inclusive of people who are disconnected from modern Western ideas of gender, and have their own structure of gender variance which does not necessarily use terms like transgender or transsexual.


An intersex person is someone who has innate sex characteristics (chromosomes, genitals, gonads, hormones, etc) which don't fit medical and social norms for male and female bodies. You can learn more here, and learn how to be an intersex ally here. Being intersex is not the same as being trans. While some people (such as Celeste in this video) are trans as well as being intersex, intersex should not be considered synonymous with transgender/transsexual. The only reason I am including this definition in a list of gender-related terms is because I use the word when reviewing Predestination (2014) and CSI, both of which feature intersex characters that are also trans men. It's important to note that intersex is too often tacked onto the end of the LGBT acronym without any real effort being made to understand intersex needs and human rights. If you do not know much about intersex people, I encourage you to visit the links above.


This is a term used to describe people who were born with sex characteristics that fit medical and social norms for male and female bodies. Basically, people who are not intersex. For example, I would describe myself as an endosex trans man, because I was born with sex characteristics that fit medical and social norms for a female body. The alteration of my sex later, when I embarked on my female-to-male transsexual journey, does not make me intersex.

Similarly to the word "cisgender", endosex people (such as myself) do not actively identify as endosex, in the sense that I don't attach a particular pride to being endosex, whereas I do attach pride to being trans. It is a categorisation label which helps to avoid stigmatising phrasing like, "intersex people and normal people". This is especially important because of the horrors intersex people endure because of what is deemed "normal" by society and by the medical community. You can learn more about that here. Self-labelling as endosex is an acknowledgement that I was spared the stigma, discrimination, and forced/coercive medical interventions often experienced by intersex people.

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