This glossary covers a wide range of terms and abbreviations used by or when talking about folks in the Trans* community. Some of these words are outdated terms and others are very new. We are constantly creating new language to describe our life experiences and as such, there may be some terms missing from this glossary. If you would like to add a word to our glossary, please email

Glossary of Terms


A prosthetic phallus or phallic object used for packing, which may include a scrotum and/or testicles. Packers range from low-tech, improvised pieces, such as rolled-up socks or gel-filled condoms, to high-quality devices that closely resemble dyadic male-assigned genitalia. (Source: Trans Lifeline Glossary of Terms and Definitions)


The process of wearing padding or a phallic object in the front of a person’s pants or underwear to create the appearance of genitals. Most often used by trans men, non-binary folks, and drag kings. (Source: Trans Lifeline Glossary of Terms and Definitions)


Exhibiting characteristics of multiple genders, deliberately refuting the concept of only two genders.


Refers to a trans person’s ability to be perceived as a cis member of their gender identity. Passing is a subjective measurement that varies depending on people, environment, and culture as well as one’s physical attributes, mannerisms, and gender presentation. Reasons for wanting to pass may include safety, comfort, gender euphoria, and social ease. Not every trans person’s goal is to pass.


Full or partial surgical removal of one’s penis. May be performed on its own or as part of another gender-affirming surgery. After the penis is removed, the urethra is relocated so the patient can pee freely.


Several procedures, often performed in tandem, for the purpose of constructing a penis. This process utilizes a flap of donor skin, usually from the patient’s thigh or forearm, to create a neophallus. Other aspects of the procedure may include a hysterectomy to remove the uterus, a vaginectomy to close the vagina, a scrotoplasty to turn the labia majora into a scrotum, a urethroplasty to lengthen and hook up the urethra inside the new phallus, a glansplasty to sculpt the appearance of an uncircumcised penis tip, and a penile implant to allow for erection. Not all of these procedures are necessary in a phalloplasty, but some are recommended. Phalloplasties have a significant recovery time and often require a multi surgery approach to complete all steps and ensure sufficient healing. (Source: Johns Hopkins Glossary of Transgender Terms)


In terms of mental/emotional wellness - a phobia is a marked and persistent fear “out of proportion” to the actual threat or danger the situation poses after taking into account all the factors of the environment and situation. Historically this term has been used to inaccurately refer to systems of oppression (i.e. homophobia has been used to refer to heterosexism).


This suffix means “repair” or “molding and shaping” and typically refers to the surgical construction or reconstruction of a body part. In the context of gender-affirming procedures, this suffix indicates that a surgery will involve the creation or reshaping of a sex characteristic or organ (e.g., vaginoplasty, metoidioplasty, mammoplasty).

Post-op (post-operative)

A term meaning after surgery which may be used by a medical professional when explaining what to expect after an operation. May also be used to describe trans* individuals who have undergone a gender-affirming surgery, sometimes referring specifically to bottom surgery.

Pre-op (pre-operative)

A term meaning before surgery which may be used by a medical professional when explaining what to expect before an operation. May also be used to describe trans* individuals who have not yet undergone any particular gender-affirming surgery but who desire to and are seeking that as an option.


A hormone taken by some transgender individuals to enhance dyadic feminine characteristics such as larger hips, rounder chest, and generally “curvier” appearance. Also a key ingredient in many birth control medications. (Source: Trans Lifeline Glossary of Terms and Definitions)


Used in everyday speech and writing to take the place of people's names. Some common pronouns include he, she, they, I, you, and it, though there are many others. 

Example: Naomi transferred to UCSB this year. They are excited to get involved on campus!

We frequently use pronouns without thinking about it. Some pronouns have a gender implication. It is important to remember that you cannot tell what pronouns someone uses by the way they look, it’s always best to ask. A person’s pronouns are not a preference, they are mandatory.


Puberty is the process of physical changes through which an adolescent reaches sexual maturity and becomes capable of sexual reproduction. Puberty is associated with emotional and hormonal changes, as well as physical changes such as breast development, pubic hair development, genital changes, voice changes, an increase in height, and the onset of menstruation. It is initiated by hormonal signals from the brain to the gonads (ovaries or testes).