Identifying as transgender (not transgendered) means that the individual identifies with a gender other than what they were assigned at birth. When a child is born, or sometimes in utero prior to birth, they are assigned a sex based on their genitalia. Outwards genitalia, or a penis, would designate the child is male and inwards genitalia would designate the child is female. Assigning a male sex is shortened to “AMAB” (assigned male at birth) or “DMAB” (designated male at birth). Likewise, assigning a female sex would be shortened to “AFAB” (assigned female at birth) or “DFAB” (designated female at birth).
It is important to note that these designations can have many flaws due to it’s oversimplification of sexual dimorphism in humans. For more information regarding this, please see our page on Intersex. This page will discuss more in depth the biological classification of sex and how it relates to gender.
Using titles like AMAB, AFAB, and so on is often considered outdated within newer communities, as it relies heavily on the concept of biological sex, which is used frequently to invalidate the experiences and existence of trans folk. However, it is still used within the community for certain individuals.
The transgender umbrella is diverse, including many different experiences. Not all folks who have varying gender identities choose to use the identity transgender, often using terms like gender nonconforming.
Each person uses these identities in their own ways. Our information can only be generalized for this reason, but we will discuss many common identities.
In addition, it is important to note that gender identity is separate from someone’s sexual or romantic identities. There is a common misconception regarding what these identities mean, but gender identity is a self-reflective identity regarding what gender that individual is. Sexual and romantic orientation relates to what genders the individual is attracted to.
Gender identity is also not always linked to someone’s body. Gender expression is the outward performance of someone’s gender. Though a transgender individual may chose to alter their gender expression through style or body changes, not all trans folk choose to use those options. The access to these options are also extremely limited, requiring things like repeat visits to multiple doctors and legal offices, and hefty fees. Opportunities for many people are limited.
For trans folk that do choose to pursue changes, there are many routes to altering one’s gender expressions. This can include top surgery, or introducing/removing breasts, bottom surgery, or altering the appearance of the genitalia, and lifelong hormonal therapy to alter gender expression. Non-permanent changes like voice therapy or binding are also popular, especially as they are often easier to come across by far for many people.
Also, some transgender folk decide to not transition at all, being happy with their body, style, or general appearance. For those that do, transitioning is an ongoing and continual process. The choice to transition or not varies from individual to individual, just like any other personal lifestyle choices.
A common misconception that trans folk encounter is that being transgender is somehow linked to mental illness. This, however, is a false connection.
One reason for this misconception is the belief that you must experience gender dysphoria to be transgender. Gender dysphoria is the extreme distress with the sex they were assigned at birth, often being attributed to a hatred of one’s body. However, not all trans folk experience this dysphoria. Many trans folk are happy with their bodies.
Some different gender identities that are often used are included below. These definitions are broad, and individuals may use these terms differently, as best as they see fit to describe their gender experience and identity:
Transgender: A person who identifies as a gender other than the sex determined/assigned at birth.
Cisgender: A person who identifies as a gender that matches the sex determined/assigned at birth.
Nonbinary: A person who’s gender identity exists outside of the binary “male/female” assignments.
Gender Queer: A gender variant person whose gender identity is neither male nor female, is between or beyond genders, or is some combination of genders. Often includes a political agenda to challenge gender stereotypes and the gender binary system.
Gender Fluid / Gender Flux: A person who experiences gender differently at different times, or shifts from gender to gender as time passes.
Agender: A person who feels they are without gender; their gender identity does not fit male, female, a combination, or mix. This is often described as being outside of the spectrum, similar to those who would say asexuality/aromanticism is separate from the spectrum of attraction to various genders, because it is a lack of attraction. Here, there is no gender.
Androgynous: A person whose gender expression is not strictly feminine or masculine, but holds elements classically associated with both. Some use this identity as a form of expression, but others do use this as a term for their gender identity.
Demigender (used as demigirl, demiboy, demiman, demiwoman): A person who’s gender identity aligns partially with this gender, but not fully.