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 Some of these words are outdated terms and others are very new.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

Identity Policing

Any statement or action that dictates how one should identify, express, or present their gender. Identity policing may come from cisgender people who seek to punish or “correct” a person’s gender-variant identity or expression, but may also be observed among some transgender people who believe other transgender individuals should conform to the gender binary. Identity policing ensures the persistence of gender roles and the gender binary. Ex: Telling a transgender woman to “dress more feminine”, as it suggests that women must adhere to standards of conventional femininity in order for their womanhood to be respected. (Source: Trans Lifeline Glossary of Terms and Definitions)

In the Closet (aka: closeted)

Keeping one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity private. Someone who is “in the closet” may only share this personal information with partners and close friends, or not at all. Their decision to not disclose this information should be respected. (Source: VeryWell Mind “What Does It Mean to Be ‘In the Closet?’”)

Informed Consent

A model of medical care requiring physicians to disclose complete and accurate information regarding the known risks of pharmaceutical drugs, medical procedures, and tests before administering them to patients. The practice is intended to empower individuals with the information necessary to make evidence-based decisions regarding their medical care. (Source: Trans Lifeline Glossary of Terms and Definitions)



For some intersex people, their intersex identity can strongly affect their relationship to their gender identity. Some may identify as intergender, a non-binary gender that reflects this relationship. Intergender individuals may identify as between the genders of man and woman, or a combination of them. “Intergender” has been used by individuals who are not intersex, but many in the intersex community believe it should only be used by intersex people. (Source: LGBTQIA+ Wiki “Intergender”)

Internalized Oppression

The fear and self-hate of one’s own minority identities, usually stemming from hostile surroundings or the internalization of oppressive ideas. One form of internalized oppression is the acceptance of the myths and stereotypes applied to the oppressed group. Someone experiencing internalized oppression may believe they deserve the discrimination they experience and/or may lash out at others in their identity groups or participate in gatekeeping. Internalized oppression turns the oppressed into their own oppressors.

Internalized Transphobia

A form of internalized oppression where a trans person believes in or supports anti-trans attitudes. Internalized transphobia may result in negative emotions like shame, anger, and worthlessness. People struggling with internalized transphobia are likely unconscious of it. They may participate in self sabotaging practices, lash out at other trans people, practice gatekeeping, or generally enforce the idea that only particular trans experiences are valid.


A term coined popular by law professor Dr. Kimberlé Crenshaw in the 1980s to describe the way that multiple systems of oppression interact in the lives of those with multiple marginalized identities. Intersectionality looks at the relationships between multiple marginalized identities and allows us to analyze social problems more fully, shape more effective interventions, and promote more inclusive advocacy amongst communities.


An adjective used to describe the experience of naturally (that is, without any medical intervention) occurring variations in reproductive or sex anatomy that do not fit neatly into society's definitions of male or female. Variations may appear in a person’s chromosomes, genitals, or internal organs. Intersex is an umbrella term, and there are around 30 variations of intersex that are included under this umbrella. Intersex people are relatively common, although society's denial of their existence has allowed very little room for intersex issues to be discussed publicly. Intersex advocates work to end unnecessary cosmetic and medical surgery on intersex youth. “Hermaphrodite” is an outdated and inaccurate term that has been used to describe intersex people in the past. (Source: interACT “Intersex Definitions”)