The terms and definitions below are always evolving, changing and often mean different things to different people. They are provided below as a starting point for discussion and understanding. This Glossary has been collectively built and created by the staff members of the LGBTQIA Resource Center since the early 2000s. Are we missing a word or term? Let us know!

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Glossary of Terms


The asterisk placed after Trans has been used in many different ways. Some folks think of it as being more inclusive towards gender non-conforming and nonbinary folks. But others have offered critique that it feels exclusionary towards GNC and nonbinary folks for enforcing a binary expectation to “fill in the blank" for trans man or trans woman.  There have also been discussions/critique regarding the origin of the asterisk.


A term used to describe trans people who were assigned male at birth and have somehow moved away from that gender. Their gender may or may not be binary (woman), but their gender expression might be more feminine than masculine. 

Transgender woman

Often shortened to Trans woman. A woman who was assigned male at birth. Some trans women may also use MTF (Male to Female) or M2F (Male to Female) to describe their identity.


Transgender is not a gender itself but speaks to a gendered experience of moving away in some way from the gender often associated with the sex assigned at birth. Often just shortened to trans and placed before a person’s gender (i.e., trans man or trans woman, trans nonbinary). It is also used often as an umbrella term. It can describe a wide range of identities and experiences of people whose gender and/or expression differs from conventional expectations based on their assigned sex at birth. 

Transgender/Trans man

Often shortened to Trans man. A man who was assigned female at birth. A person may choose to identify this way to capture their gender identity as well as their lived experience as a transgender person. Some trans men may also use the term FTM (Female to Male) or F2M (Female to Male) to describe their identity.


The process of taking one’s internal identity and outwardly expressing it in their life socially, emotionally, or medically. There are three general aspects to transitioning: (1) emotionally coming to terms and exploring one’s identity, (2) Socially changing of name, using different pronouns, coming out to peers, changing gender expression, and (3) medically taking hormones and undergoing gender affirming surgeries, etc. A trans individual may transition in any combination, or none, of these aspects.


A term used to describe trans people who were assigned female at birth and have somehow moved away from that gender. Their gender may or may not be binary (man), but their gender expression might be more masculine than feminine. 


Transmisogynoir is similar to transmisogyny, but with an added identity. Transmisogynoir highlights the intersection between transphobia, misogyny, and anti-Blackness. It stems from the term “misogynoir.” Misogynoir emphasizes the intersections of misogyny and anti-Blackness, particularly towards Black cis women. (Source: Transgender Law Center "Black Trans Women and Black Trans Femmes: Leading & Living Fiercely")


Transmisogyny describes the intersecting oppressions and discriminations of transphobia and misogyny. Transphobia is the discrimination and oppression of trans people for their gender expression. Misogyny is the hatred and devaluation of women and of femininity. Transmisogyny primarily affects trans women and transfeminine people. However, it also affects trans and nonbinary folks who may be perceived as feminine. (Source: Carey Sokja "Transmisogyny" | BWSS "Transmisogyny 101")


Transphobia is the discrimination and oppression of trans people for their gender expression. This may be subtle or overt forms of discrimination, but consists of fear, hatred, disbelief, and distrust of trans people. Transphobia primarily affects trans people. However, it may also affect individuals who are thought to be transgender, who do not conform to traditional gender roles, or who are under the gender non-conforming umbrella. (Source: Planned Parenthood "What's Transphobia?")


A person who lives full-time in a gender different than their assigned birth sex and gender. Many pursue hormones and/or surgery. This term is becoming outdated and problematic. This term should not be used for a trans person unless they specifically use the term to describe themselves. 


This is an outdated and problematic term due to its historical use as a diagnosis for medical/mental health disorders. Cross Dresser has replaced transvestite, see above definition.

Two Spirit

“[This] term stems from the Ojibwe phrase niizh manidoowag and replaces the outdated, oversimplified term berdache, which appeared frequently in research and anthropological studies that aimed to describe the place of gay men in Native society in the 18th and early 19th centuries […] The phrase ‘two spirit’ began to gain traction across Native America after 1990, when 13 men, women, and transgender people from various tribes met in Winnipeg, Canada, with the task of finding a term that could unite the LGBTQ Native community. […]For me, the term ‘two spirit’ resists a Western definition of who we are and what we should be. Two spirit [people] are integral to the struggle of undoing the impacts of historical trauma, because our roles in tribes historically were part of the traditions taken away from us with Westernization.” - Zachary Pullin (Chippewa Cree), May/June 2014 Issues of Native Peoples

There are a variety of definitions and feelings about the term “two spirit” – and this term does not resonate for everyone.