Transgender Alphabet Soup
Androgynous. Having both female and male characteristics; hermaphroditic. Being neither distinguishably masculine nor feminine, as in dress, appearance or behavior.
Autogynephilia. In its literal translation means self-love as a woman. Diagnostically, autogynephilia is an erotic obsession with the image of one's self as a woman. Autogynephilia is listed in passing - not as a diagnosis - in the DSM IV. Autogynephilia caused a firestorm of controversy in the trans community after the release of Michael Bailey's book, "The Man Who Would be Queen".
Bio-boy. A genetic-born male. The counterpart to a genetic girl (natal female) See GG
Crossdresser (CD). Typically a heterosexual male who expresses his feminine side, and sometimes gets sexual satisfaction, by dressing part-time as a woman. Crossdressers don't want to take hormones (except for experimentation), nor have sex change surgery (SRS). Crossdressing is not a disorder and cannot be "cured."
Clock. To clock. To be perceived by people that one is not a genetic male or female; not passing. For example, "I got clocked by some teenage girls today" (teenage girls are very perceptive at reading transsexuals). See read.
Drag King. A woman who impersonates a man through appearance and mannerisms. The counterpart of a drag queen (next).
Drag Queen. A gay male who impersonates a female and often performs in night clubs and drag shows. They typically employ garish makeup and exaggerated mannerisms and speech.
DSM IV. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - Fourth Edition. Diagnostic Criteria for the most common mental disorders including: description, diagnosis, treatment, and research findings. GID (Gender Identity Disorder) is listed as 302.6 in the DSM IV. Though currently listed as a "mental disorder," the latest evidence indicates it's biological and happens prenatally and could have genetic causes. Female brain structures have been found in the brains of transsexuals. I think gender dysphoria is more accurate as it indicates a discomfort with one's born sex, not a disorder.
Dysphoria. An emotional state characterized by anxiety, depression, or unease. The opposite of euphoria. See GID
Gender. The two terms, sex and gender, are sometimes used interchangeably in the vernacular. However, in a medical and technically scientific sense, these words are not synonymous. Sex is defined by the gonads, or potential gonads, either phenotypically or genotypically. It is generally assigned at birth by external genital appearance. If an intersex condition is present, one sex is often chosen with the intention of making social interactions and rearing simpler. However, studies have shown this doesn't work in many cases. For example, someone may be surgically assigned as a female, but develop the opposite gender identity later in life, usually during puberty.
Gender, on the other hand, is a social construct that places men and women into distinct categories, each with its own attributes, such as dress, hair style, mannerisms, speech and walk. In essence, gender is how we present ourselves to society and not necessarily a reflection of one's biological sex, or sexual orientation.
Gender queer. Someone who identifies with the gender opposite to their born sex or blends gender.
GID. Gender Identity Disorder. The medical definition of transsexualism. Also known as *gender dysphoria. A more accurate term, in my opinion. GID is still classified as a psychological 'disorder' in the DSM IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), though evidence indicates it's a biological condition and could be caused by a mix-up in the fetal hormone balance at critical periods in fetal development, or have genetic causes. One study found that the brains of male-to-female transsexuals had female neuron numbers in the central subdivision of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis.
All fetuses are female by default. When the gonads kick in if they produce testosterone the fetus develops into a phenotype male; if they produce estrogen it remains female. One theory holds that due to a mix-up in fetal hormone balance at a critical times, the fetus develops into a phenotype male with a female brain. There are physical differences in male and female brains.
The only successful treatments for transsexuals are cross-gender living, hormone therapy and sex reassignment surgery (see SRS). Attempts at changing transsexuals' internal gender identity, using aversion therapy, psychoactive drugs, even shock treatments have been unsuccessful. Gender dysphoria is not caused by a strong identification with the mother or familial adjustment disorder, such as caused by an absent father. Though they may factor in if one has transsexual tendencies.
*A deep uncomfortableness with one's gender. Dysphoria = opposite of euphoria.
GRS. Genital Reconstructive Surgery, or Gender Reassignment Surgery. See SRS.
Hermaphrodite. Intersexed. An older term. See IS
Homosexual transsexual. A so-called "category" of transsexuals coined by Michael Bailey [The Man Who Would be Queen], largely dismissed by the trans community. Bailey defines homosexual transsexuals as "extremely feminine gay men." These are people who had homosexual sex as males before transitioning, who Bailey claims have sex-change surgery so they can have better "gay sex." More on 'homosexual transsexual'
HRT. Hormone Replacement Therapy. The taking of estrogen, and sometimes progesterone, by a MTF (male-to-female) to feminize the body, i.e. breast development, soft skin, fat redistribution, muscle shrinkage, etc. A FTM (female-to-male) takes testosterone. Transsexuals must take hormones for the rest of their lives since their bodies do not produce them naturally.
IS - Intersexed. Also, hermaphrodite (older term). Intersexed is a biological condition in which the person has the internal reproductive anatomy of one sex with ambiguous external genitalia. For example, a person might be a biological female in terms of hormones and reproductive system, but may manifest an enlarged clitoris that may resemble an underdeveloped penis. Chromosomes cannot be used to definitively tell a person's sex. Male babies can be born with XX chromosomes and visa-versa, or a combination of XX and XY cells. There are cases of intersexuals who have been surgically assigned a gender shortly after birth or in early childhood and raised as that gender only to develop the opposite gender identity later in life. In some cases this is a deliberate decision on the part of the parents, while in others the parents mistook the external genital appearance for the actual biological sex. Once considered malleable, gender identity is now understood to be hardwired before birth.
'Male transsexual' Another inaccurate term coined by author Michael Bailey [The Man Who Would be Queen], who refers to trans women as "males," which is incorrect and derogatory. The correct term is transsexual woman. See autogynephilia.
Orchiectomy. Castration. Removal of the testes. Some transsexuals have an orchie to stop the production of testosterone when SRS isn't in the near future. This allows the reduction of hormone intake to post-op levels which is safer and the elimination of an anti-androgen.
Pass. To pass is being able to move about society without being detected as transgender. Generally, the younger one starts hormones the more dramatic the physical changes and usually makes it easier to pass, but also depends on genetics and body type one started with. See stealth.
Phalloplasty. Genital reconstructive surgery for the FTM (female-to-male). A much more involved and expensive surgery than vaginoplasty, typically consisting of a hysterectomy and closure of the vagina. Skin grafts are used to create the penis, the urethra lengthened and prosthetic testicles created. The surgery is usually done over several stages.
Post-op. A transsexual who has had sex reassignment surgery (see SRS). Post-op's usually report satisfactory to very good sensation in their vaginas, have the ability to orgasm and sometimes self-lubricate.
Pre-op. A pre-op transsexual is one who has not yet had sex reassignment surgery.
Purge. To purge - throwing away, or destroying, one's clothes often preceded by feelings of guilt. He or she will then sometimes declare themselves "cured." Invariably the urge to crossdress, or change gender, cannot be suppressed.
Read. Being read is when someone realizes an individual is transsexual, or transgender, and not a genetic male or female. The opposite of passing. Also, to clock. When we see someone our mind, in a fraction of a second, unconsciously makes a decision whether the person is male or female based on visual and/or audio clues. If one falls outside the expected norms of male or female the person will sometimes continue looking for more clues until they're satisfied he or she is male, female or otherwise.
RLE. Real Life Experience. See RLT.
RLT. Real Life Test. A period of time where the individual lives and works full-time as their chosen gender. Kind of a try before you buy experience to see if one really wants to live permanently as the opposite gender and prepare him or herself for life in their new gender role. Usually one is required to work and live full-time at least one year before they can be approved for SRS.
Sexual orientation. Whether one is heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual or asexual. Sometimes equated with gender identity, sexual orientation is separate and distinct from gender identity. For example, a transsexual woman isn't necessarily attracted to men and vise-versa. For the transsexual sexual orientation can be in flux, sometimes not solidifying until after experimentation and sex reassignment surgery.
Shemale. A biological male who takes hormones to develop female secondary sex characteristics, but stops short of SRS. It's been reported that the term was coined by the porn industry and is used liberally in transsexual pornography.
SOC. Standards of Care, by Dr. Harry Benjamin. The accepted requirements that most therapists and surgeons adhere to for SRS which are: six months of counseling and hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and one year of full-time crossgender living and working before a transsexual can be referred for sex reassignment surgery (see below). Most surgeons also require two letters of referral from a MD, Ph.D., or other masters level professional.
SRS. Sex Reassignment Surgery. For the MTF (male-to-female) an operation that transforms the male genitalia into female genitals called vaginoplasty. The most common procedure is penile inversion. In this procedure, the testes are removed and the erectile tissue of the penis is excised. A canal is created for the neo-vagina, the penile skin inverted and used to line the vaginal canal; part of the scrotum is used to lengthen the new vagina and to create the labia (sometimes skin graphs are necessary when there's not enough penile and/or scrotal tissue to create adequate vaginal depth and are usually taken from the hips). Part of the glans, or head of the penis, is used to create a sensate clitoris. Sex change surgery has improved to the point, with a skilled surgeon, of being nearly indistinguishable from a genetic female.
SRS for the FTM (female-to-male) is more complex, usually requiring several separate surgeries. It's easier to create female genitalia from male genitals than visa-versa, since structurally male genitals are basically female genitalia turned inside-out (with the testes corresponding to the ovaries and penis to the clitoris). The cost of SRS for the MTF varies from $6500 to $20k-plus and $40k to $60k-plus for the FTM.
As this website caters mostly to male-to-female transsexuals, I do not have information on the different types of surgeries for the female-to-male. Please visit other websites for more information on FTMs.
Stealth. Stealth is being passable enough to live one's life in society without detection; one who isn't read. How a trans person is treated by society varies significantly depending on blending in or standing-out. Unfortunately, those who don't pass well are sometimes mistreated, ridiculed, discriminated against, attacked, even murdered. As a consolation to those who don't pass well, no one passes 100% of the time. Anyone who claims they do must be a mind-reader of everyone who sees them.
TG - Transgender or transgendered. An umbrella term that includes the full spectrum of gender-variants from those who don't choose to dress in the mode that society expects for their sex, to crossdressers (see CD) to transsexuals, who alter their bodies through hormones and surgery. Unlike sex, which is biological and based on characteristics such as reproductive organs and chromosomes, gender is a social construct that's projected by appearance and behavior including clothing, hairstyle, speech, mannerisms, etc.
Some make a distinction between transgender and transsexual, in that a transgender person doesn't have sex reassignment surgery.
Transbian. Slang. A male-to-female transsexual who identifies as lesbian.
Transition. The process of changing one's gender involving taking hormones and living crossgender full-time and can also include a legal name change, electrolysis (for the male-to-female), learning the mannerisms and speech of the opposite gender, etc. See Beginning your transition
TS. Transsexual. A person who has a deep, core identity of the gender opposite to their born sex. It's often expressed at an early age, as young as three or four. Transsexuals can't be "cured" except through hormones and surgery and sometimes experience guilt and confusion about their gender identity and try to suppress it, which is inevitably impossible and usually only find peace when they accept who they are and begin their transformation. Also GID
TV - Transvestite. Crossdresser. From the Latin trans or cross and vest or clothes. See CD.
Vaginoplasty. A surgical procedure that transforms the male genitals into female genitalia. See SRS.
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