Y’all ready to kiki and spill some tea, okurrrr?
No. I’m kidding. As much as I would love to explain the origins of AAVE, especially in relation to the queer black community, that’s for another post.
This post is going to be an introduction to the words that help define the existence of trans people. This will be helpful for anyone that’s just starting to transition and doesn’t yet have the words to describe how they feel, who they are, what they need, etc. It’s also aimed at educating cis-people who may not know some of these terms and want to gain some further understanding.
I’m going to try and keep it from being as dry as Aunt Brenda’s turkey dinner, but no goddamn promises. Read it anyway, learn you a thing. ❤
Let’s start with the absolute basics! What does TRANSGENDER mean?
This is the definition that is the first thing that pops up when you google it:
- denoting or relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender does not correspond with their birth sex.
Hm. Okay. That’s sort of it, but not perfect. Gonna need you to update, Googs.
Transgender is an umbrella term for anyone that does not identify as cisgender. This includes people who who are transmen, transwomen (like yours truly), and people who are non-binary/genderqueer/agender, and numerous others. It IS an adjective, which means that when Chad on Tinder tells you “I’VE NEVER BEEN WITH A TRANSGENDER BEFORE”, be sure to fucking correct the jackass. Likewise, calling someone “a trans” is equally incorrect.
So, I threw a bunch of other terms in there that you may not know–cisgender, transman, transwoman, non-binary, and genderqueer, but don’t worry, I’m here to clarify. These terms are just a selection of the ways that people under the umbrella of trans experience may identify, save for cisgender. Let’s start there.
Cisgender (or cis for short) is an adjective that just means “not trans”. Seriously, that’s it.
Becky w/Bad Hair: “BuT wHY dO wE NeeD a WeRD fOR NoRMal?”
Oh, fuck. It looks like she followed us from the safari. Ugh–I thought I wore enough bug spray, christ.
Well, Becky, since you’re delightfully here, let me tell you why–because calling someone who is cisgender “normal” or “real” delegitimizes trans people as “abnormal” or “fake”. While transpeople may not be what the media shows you every day, and you may believe that you’ve never encountered a transperson in your life, let me assure you–we are neither abnormal or uncommon. We’re just not cis. Thus why the word “cisgender” exists.
There are a lot of people who believe that the word “cis” or “cisgender” is an insult because it denotes a label on people who should be the standard. There is another word for these people other than cisgender too!
Transphobes. So instead of wasting time on them, let’s move on, shall we?
A Transman, or a transwoman, are words refer someone who identifies with a binary gender other than the one they were assigned at birth. Both are nouns. Binary here refers to the two genders most of the world think as “standard” (aka, boring) of male or female. Generally, people who identify this way will use binary pronouns, such as she/her or he/his. Adjective versions of these would be transmale or transfemale.
Non-binary is an adjective which describes someone who identifies outside the “standard” (again, boring) gender binary. They might use any pronouns, depending on who they are as people, but common ones include they and ze/zir (pronounced zee and zir, respectively). People who are non-binary may also refer to themselves as Agender—or without gender. Some people use these terms interchangebly, but some do not.
Someone who is Genderqueer can use it to mean a number of things, ranging from how they express themselves (style), to whether they’re trans, so on and so forth. They may or may not identify as trans depending on how they feel or express themselves, but several of them do. Someone who is genderqueer may also be non-binary, or they may alternate pronouns depending on internal feeling.
There are many, many other ways of identifying beyond these, but for now, those are a pretty good basis to start.
Becky w/ Bad Hair: “BUT StEpHaNIe, thEre’S OnLY tWo GEndErS.”
One, Becklizabeth, no there isn’t. And two, my name isn’t fucking Stephanie. It’s Persephone. Get it right or you won’t be able to pronounce any names again, feel me? Don’t you have a manager to harass? Food to assault? A yoga class to attend?
A common tactic you will encounter from transphobes is the argument that there are only two genders. These people generally don’t care about receiving any education in what it means to actually be trans, and aren’t usually worth explaining anything to. They’re also devoted to the concept that gender is only bindary instead of a unique experience for everyone. Therefore, they are boring.
Like, Becky here. As her main obsession in life is telling transwomen that they’re monstrous men out to rape women, she simply can’t devote her time to anything that would make her interesting as a person. Like a hobby. Like knitting those terrible pink pussy hats she’s so fond of wearing, or finding some of her own business to mind.
Becky w/bad hair: “Ur A FuKiN MaN, StEphAniE.”
…what did I tell you before, bitch?
Becky w/bad hair: “oH, i’M SoRRy, not StEpHaNie. uR ReAl name is P–”
So sorry about that, had to take out the trash before we can move forward. Please, do ignore the smoke coming off my shotgun–anti-TERF shells do produce some kickback.
Ignoring people like Becky–there is no wrong way to identify. Scientists, psychiatrists, and numerous other people with fancy degrees can all tell you that. It just seems to be people with no qualifications to talk about it that really like to complain. Simply put, if you don’t want to be an asshole, respect what someone tells you they identify as, and use the pronouns that they ask you to use. It costs zero dollars not to be a dick.
Beyond ways of identifying, there are a few other terms that you as a transperson might use, or that cis-people may hear your transfriends use.
HRT–Hormone Replacement Therapy. While not every transperson does hormone replacement, a lot of us do, and not just binary transpeople. This is the process by which trans people reduce the presence of their naturally produced hormones, and replace them with other ones, often the ones traditionally associated with their true gender. To simplify, for binary trans people, that means reducing Testosterone for transwomen, and replacing it with Estrogen. For transmen, it means reducing Estrogen, and replacing it with Testosterone. People who are non-binary may also choose to take hormones, but the choice is largely a personal one for every transperson.
There are a number of ways which HRT can be done, ranging from pills, to injections, to patches, etc. It’s basically a reeeeeallly really slow anime transformation.
Okay, not really, but I fucking wish it were.
T—no, not the kind you spill when talking about Aunt Brenda the Raisin Kween, but Testosterone. Many people who take testosterone will shorten it to “T” for the sake of ease. It also makes it a bit easier to talk about HRT when you may be in mixed company. Though some people who take Estrogen do shorten that to “E” as well, it is far less common, I’ve found.
Passing— this term comes with a deep, deep dramatic sigh from me, because it is such a goddamn problematic term, but it must be mentioned. “Passing” is when someone who is trans is indistinguishable from someone who is cis. Basically, that they don’t look trans to cis people, even though there is no way a transperson is meant to look.
This is one of my least favorite terms, because it comes with a number of problems. In the past, especially among those who are binary trans, the ultimate goal was to “pass” unseen, or being able to go “Stealth” among cispeople. In the last ten years or so, there has been a lot of pushback against this sort of thing, because trans people shouldn’t have to pass to have the right to exist. The subject deserves far more detail than it is getting here, and I will have a post on it sometime in the future.
Full-time: This term refers to transpeople that have fully come out of the closet in most, if not all, aspects of their life. While some may not be able to do so for personal or professional reasons, going full-time is often the goal of many transpeople, because it means living 100% of your life as your most authentic self.
AMAB/AFAB: These terms are acroynms. AMAB is short for “Assigned Male at Birth”, and AFAB is “Assigned Female at Birth”. These are used by transpeople to define the conditions of their birth and what their doctor marked on their birth certificate based on sex markers. You should use these terms instead of things like “when you were a boy” or “their real gender”, both of which delegitimize trans experience.
Binding/Tucking: These terms refer to techniques by which transpeople reduce the presence of certain sex markers–namely breasts and AMAB genitalia, respectively. Binding flattens and smoothes the appearance of breasts, and is often done by transmen and non-binary AFAB people. To do it safely, a proper binder should be used, never tape or bandages. Tucking, on the other hand, reduces the appearance of AMAB genitalia through a number of techniques. Cispeople should not really point out or ask about either. Ever.
That covers the basics! Obviously there are other terms that come up when it comes to trans terminology, but this is a good base to start from. In the future, I will definitely be posting more about the language trans people use to define ourselves and our world.
As a quick logistics note–the blog will be on hiatus until January 7th for the holidays. It was originally going to be until the 2nd, but I need the extra time to build up a buffer of posts, so all of you don’t go without your necessary weekly quota of yours truly. I promise, updates will begin again on that date, as I still have a lot of things to say here.
Until then–have a wonderful holiday season and I’ll see you in the New Year!
Becky w/bad hair: i’M sTilL…aLiVe.
Always double tap, my friends.
Special thanks to our newest Patreon Supporter–Larisa E.! If you’d like to support the blog, you can do so through http://www.patreon.com/thebrokeasstranswoman