Annotated Glossary of Terms

(Last updated: December 13, 2008)


The purpose of this project is not to define the terms, but to document the way the terms are used within and surrounding a particular faction of modern society.

This is an annotated glossary of terms commonly (and sometimes less commonly) used by the members of the transgender community and those with whom they associate. It contains some well-known and accepted terms, but concentrates on what might be considered lingo, jargon, and slang.

For the sake of consistency, the term "Community", capitalized, will be used to indicate that segment of society often referred to as the Transgender community.

There is considerable controversy and disagreement regarding the exact definition of some of these terms.

Members of the Community often disagree, sometimes very assertively and personally, on seemingly insignificant nuances of these terms. These people often have a very strong self-identity, and many do not associate with others in the Community until adulthood, if at all, and have their own very personal meanings that they have acquired individually with little external influence.

The clinical community prefers explicit and unambiguous definitions of terms, but there is some blending of clinical terms with those used within the Community.

The general public (including the media) is often clueless regarding the specific meanings, or even general meanings, of many of these terms.

In controversy, particularly, are the precise definitions of the terms which assign individuals to one or more categories, such as:

  • Crossdresser
  • Drag Queen
  • Female Impersonator
  • Transgender(ist)
  • Transsexual
  • Transvestite

While the general public (and the media) will often use many of these terms interchangably (an example would be the terms used by the media in regards to a recent incident where a celebrity gave a ride to an individual who was crossdressed at the time), the Community is in constant disagreement over the nuances of some of the definitions.

Any term that has the slightest perception of a negative connotation tends to develop dislike from within the Community. The term "Crossdresser" is often preferred over "Transvestite", for example.

Another example is the strong objection to the term "subculture", used to refer to the Community. Although it is technically correct, meaning a segment of society, it is perceived by many in the Community to have a strong negative connotation, possibly from the frequent use of such terms as "DRUG Subculture", "CRIMINAL subculture", etc. by the media and general public.

Some clinical terms are included here, mostly with terse definitions. Links to some publications have been included. Medical texts should be consulted for more information on clinical terms.


The propensity (of a genetic male) to be aroused by the thought or image of oneself as a woman. (R. Blanchard, ca. 1989)

Benjamin Scale
The Benjamin Sex Orientation Scale (SOS) by Dr. Harry Benjamin, et. al. A scale of sex and gender disorientation in males, ranging from Type I (Transvestite, pseudo), to Type VI (True Transsexual, high intensity).

Benjamin Standards Of Care
A statement of the appropriate standards of care to be offered to applicants for hormonal and surgical sex reassignment, published by The Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association.

Bigender (-ed -ist)
Somewhat overloaded. Can be a synonym for transgender (-ed -ist) or more of a general case of having characteristics of both genders.

Blend, blending
Somewhat overloaded terms of recent popularity. Blending is used either as a synonym of or euphemism for passing, or to refer to someone who does not pass in the visual sense but has little difficulty going out and interacting in mainstream society.

Joani doesn't really pass, but she blends quite well.

Said of a male crossdresser (and others) when dressed in male attire and presenting socially as a man.

Brother (twin brother, evil twin brother)
Term commonly used by genetic male crossdressers to refer to themselves when dressed in male attire and presenting as a man.

Unfortunately I had to go as brother. I know too many people in that part of town.

Benjamin Standards Of Care

Candy Hormones
Non-prescription supplements, often herbal in composition, and other substances, which are taken in an attempt to produce the effects of hormone replacement therapy. (See Hormone Replacement Therapy.) The effectiveness of such self-medication is the subject of endless debate.

Not transgender(ed), the Latin prefix "cis" meaning "same" or "on the same side", the opposite of "trans". Someone whose gender identity is what is normally associated with his or her biological sex is said to be cisgender(ed).


Clocked (Brit.)

An individual who keeps such things as homosexuality, transgenderism, etc. secret is said to be "In The Closet."

The closet is a dark, lonely, miserable place to hide.

Closet Queen
Usually refers to a male homosexual who wishes to keep his sexual preference private, but is sometimes used to refer to those who are transgender(ed) and with to keep their gender identity private.

Come Out (of the closet)
To go public with a previously secret identity, condition, or lifestyle. To announce same to friends and family.

One who crossdresses, who (regularly or occasionally, fully or partially) wears the clothing intended for the opposite sex. Usually used in referring to a genetic male who wears womens clothing but who does not have a strong desire to transition.

Note that there is much disagreement within the Community regarding the meanings and the usage of the terms "Crossdresser", "Transvestite", and similar terms.

The popularity of the label "Crossdresser" increased steadily from the 1970's, with a corresponding decrease in the popularity of "Transvestite" as a self-identification. Some believe that the two terms are in fact synonyms, others insist that "Crossdresser" has less of a sexual or arousal connotation than "Transvestite" does.

The popularity of the label "Crossdresser" appears to have decreased since the year 2000 in favor of "Transgender(ist)" and variations.

Drag Queen

Opposite of "Drag". Dressed As A Boy. See "Boymode", "(as) Brother". Evolved during the late 20th. century.

Dressed As A Girl. A male who is dressed in womens clothing can be said to be "in drag." This term has been in use for centuries. Said to be attributed to William Shakespeare.

Drag King
Not quite the literal opposite of Drag Queen, having diverse and overloaded meanings. 1. A lesbian who wears male attire and may or may not desire or attempt to pass as a man. 2. A performer (usually genetic female) who does impersonations of male performers on stage. 3. Any female to male crossdresser. 4. The name of a musical group.

Drag Queen
Someone (almost always a male) who very flamboyantly wears womens attire, usually without regard to passing. Often implies homosexuality. The term "queen" has been used since the 1920's to denote a gay man. "Drag Queen" evolved from this to mean a gay man who wears womens clothing. The meaning of this term has broadened somewhat over the past few decades.

En Femme. Are you dressed tonight?

Crossdresser, Transvestite.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, published by The American Psychiatric Association. A publication used by clinicians which provides the current definition of Gender Identity Disorder.

En Drab
In boymode, Dressed As A Boy.

En Femme
In girlmode, Dressed As A Girl. (Some controversy on how this term is to be pronounced. Some very defensively insist on the French pronunciation.)

En Homme
In boymode, en drab.

Transvestism, crossdressing. From Chevalier D'eon de Beaumontis, a noted French crossdresser of the 1700's. Term not in common usage today.

One who practices eonism. Transvestite, crossdresser. Again, very seldom used at this time.

Female Impersonator

Female to male. Usually refers to a transsexual who is born female and transitioning to male.

FemmePersonator. (Term seldom used since the 1970's). Coined as an alternative to the terms "Transvestite", "Female Impersonator.", etc. Stressed personation, rather than impersonation. Attributed to Virginia Prince, ca. 1970.

Foundation for Personality Expression. The original name of what is now Tri-Ess.

Female Impersonator
Someone (almost always a male) who performs impressions of female celebrities on stage.

1. A very flamboyant and overstated drag queen, one who flaunts gender-bending and seeks attention doing so. Prob. from "flaming queen", which refers to a gay man who flaunts his homosexuality. 2. A member of the Community with a bad attitude toward self and others, appearing intentionally unpleasant.

Girl At Birth. One of several recent acronyms. Synonyms: GG, WAB, WBW

A close-fitting undergarment used to conceal the male genetalia. See "Tucking"

Masculine or Feminine, often erroneously used as a synonym (or euphemism) for sex.

"Gender is in your head, sex is between your legs." -- S. Lewis, ca. 1980 There are many variations and attributions of this quote.

Gender Bender
An overloaded catch-all term used by the media and the general public to refer to almost anyone whose gender presentation is ambiguous or not in sync with what they think it should be.

The gender bender rock star Boy George has reunited with his band, Culture Club.

Gender Challenged
Transgender(ed). Seldom used within the Community and quite disliked. From the 1980's euphemistic lingo which includes such terms as "Visually Challenged", "Physically Challenged", etc.

Gender Dysphoria
Discomfort with one's sex, gender, or gender role. Clinicians will state that the term Gender Identity Disorder is to be used instead of this term. Mostly obsolete as of this time.

Gender Euphoria
An overloaded term, which can mean a feeling of comfort in either gender role, the opposite of gender dysphoria, a euphemism for Gender Dysphoria, or a synonym for transgenderism or transsexualism. Highly context dependent. Also the name of a periodical.

Gender Gifted
Transgender(ed). May also be used as a euphemism for any of several related conditions.

Gender Identity
The particular gender, masculine or feminine, with which a person identifies.

Gender Identity Disorder
Clinical term describing gender dysphoria and related conditions. There have been movements to persuade the medical community to cease classifying this as a mental disorder.

Genderqueer (also Intergender, Pangender, and Third-Gender)
A gender identity which is other than masculine or feminine. The identity is sometimes described as "none of the above" and/or having characteristics of both.

Gender Shock
A temporary feeling of disorientation and sometimes discomfort reported by those who rapidly shift from one gender role to another.

I was in Gender Shock. I got called in to work, so I changed back to brother in the van. When I got in I just nonchalantly walked right into the ladies room without even thinking.

Genetic Girl. One who is born female. Attributed to the late Virginia Prince, ca. 1968. This term is almost universally used throughout the Community. In the 1970's, this could also mean Genuine Girl, but this was ambiguous and disliked.

Gender Identity Disorder.

GLBT Community
The segment of society made up of those who are Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender(ed). The term "GLB" was in common usage in the 1980's, and GLBT became common in the 1990's. Variations include "BGLT" (in alphabetical order), LGBT (ladies first), "GLBTS", with the S meaning Sensitive or Supportive, and GLBTI, with the I meaning Intersexed. Other variations and transpositions are in use.

Someone who has physical characteristics of both sexes.

Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone Replacement Therapy refers to providing someone with hormones that the body has stopped producing or cannot produce. This has been used for years for genetic females who have gone through menopause.

Hormone Replacement Therapy is used to provide transgender(ed) individuals with the appropriate hormones their bodies cannot produce naturally, such as estrogen (and often anti-androgens) for male to female, and androgens for female to male.

Hormone Replacement Therapy.

Intersexed, Intersexual
A person born having physical attributes of both sexes. This term covers a broad range of conditions.

Kleinfelter's Syndrome
A genetic disorder of type XXY.

A term that's considered crude and demeaning and is quite disliked by members of the Community. See entry for shemale.

A crossdresser, transvestite, or drag queen. Not commonly used since the 1980's. From a popular 1970's song.

Male to female. Most commonly used for a transsexual who is born male who is transitioning to female, but is sometimes used for crossdressers and transgenderists who are biologically male.

Most often heard as a noun used as an adjective to denote something associated with the general public as opposed to something associated with the GLBT community.

I don't go to tranny bars anymore, I prefer mainstream clubs.

Slang for hormones. (See Hormone Replacement Therapy)

No-Op or Non-Op
Usually refers to a transsexual who has transitioned socially, but will not seek sex reassignment surgery.

To successfully appear in public in one's chosen gender role without arousing attention or suspicion.

Wendy can pass perfectly. Nobody even suspects she wasn't born female.

Sometimes used to denote the Transgender Community, as a euphemism for the term "subculture". Term seems to be out of common usage today.

Postoperative. A transsexual who has completed sex reassignment surgery.

One who enjoys petticoats, crinolines and any kind of bouffant fashion.

Preoperative. A transsexual who has not had sex reassignment surgery.

Purge (v. or n.)
To attempt to suppress cross-gender identity or desires by discarding all items such as clothing, cosmetics, literature, and ceasing contact with the Community.

Real Life Test

When someone fails to pass, he/she is said to be "read", meaning others have determined or suspected that his/her biological sex is opposite to the gender role being presented.

When I heard the kid shout "Hey, that's a guy!", I knew I had been read.

Real Girl or Real Woman
A very strongly disliked term within the Community. See GG.

Real Life Test
A period of transition prior to surgery, where the individual must successfully live in the chosen gender role. This is required by almost all SRS providers.

Sex (Biological Sex, Anatomical Sex, Genetic Sex)
Male or female. Traditionally implies gender. Anatomic(al) sex refers to the presentation of the reproductive organs. Genetic sex refers to the chromosonal makeup of the individual, normally XX or XY.

She-Male or Shemale
Sometimes used as a dysphemism for "drag queen" but often implies a degree of promiscuity. "Chicks with dicks." There is a strong degree of dislike for this term in the Community.

Sister (twin sister, evil twin sister)
Term commonly used by male crossdressers to refer to themselves when dressed in female attire and presenting as a woman.

Skagdrag, Genderf*ck, or Genderf*ck Drag
The practice of flamboyantly wearing womens attire in an inappropriate manner, often as an incomplete outfit, with no attempt to present as a woman. An example would be someone with a beard wearing an evening gown and paratrooper boots.

Sex Reassignment Surgery.

1. Living and passing in society in the opposite gender role, with absolutely no contact with the Community, and no knowledge of such by friends, coworkers, associates, etc. 2. Highly closeted, giving no hint of being transgender(ed) to friends, spouse, etc. 3. Any of several variants of the above. Term is somewhat overloaded.

Short-lived euphemism for subculture. Seldom used since the 1970's

Supermale Syndrome
A genetic disorder of type XYY.

Transgender, transgendered.

Encompasing TV/TG/TS, the asterisk coming from computer lingo meaning "matching all."

T-Community, Transgender(ed) Community or Gender Community
The segment of society made up of those who are in one way or another transgender(ed). The term "Community" (capitalized) is used in this text to denote this.

T-friendly or TG-friendly
Said of an organization, business, community, workplace, etc. when they either actively encourage participation/business/etc. by transgender(ed) individuals, or have no objection to same.

T-oblivious or TG-oblivious
Similar to T-friendly but implies (positively or negatively) a less active attitude. Means that members of the Community are treated the same as others in the general public.

A social gathering of members of the Community.

Members of the Community.

Very common abbreviation for Transgender, Transgendered or Transgenderist

Crossdresser or transvestite. From a popular 1980's film of the same name. Not currently in common usage.

Trannie or Tranny (orig. Brit.)
Transvestite, Transgender(ist), or Transsexual.

In the recent decade, this term has fallen into disfavor in the Community, now having somewhat of a pejorative connotation, and some consider it to be the TG equivalent of the "n-word". Others continue to use the term endearingly.

Tranny Chaser
Transphile, admirer.

Transexual or Transsexual
A person whose gender identity is in conflict with his/her biological sex to the degree that transitioning and possibly sex reassignment surgery are desired. The double-S spelling has been attributed to Dr. Leo Wollman.

Transgender(ed) (adj.)
To have a cross-gender identity in one form or another.

Lately, several people have been under the mistaken impression that the term Transgender(/ed/ist) was coined by the late Virginia Prince. This appears to be false, although it is quite possible that she contributed to the popularity of the term within the Community. The term appears to have originated in the early 1970's, appearing in the proceedings of two New England Conferences of Sex and Gender Identity in 1973 and 1974, and may have been in use earlier. None of Dr. Prince's writings of that era use the term.

The -ed suffix has been falling out of favor over the past few years.

Transgender(ist) (n.)
This term has become increasingly overloaded during the recent years and has become highly context-dependent. Some meanings can be confusing and contradictory, even to those well-versed in the vernacular.

1. A member of the transgender community. 2. Someone who assumes the opposite gender identity but does not seek physical sex reassignment.

This term evolved in the early 1970's. It was originally intended to fill a gap in the spectrum between the transvestite and the transsexual, meaning someone who perhaps crossdressed more due to gender identity and not for arousal or for the sake of crossdressing itself.

The usage of the term has broadened significantly in the last two decades.

One who crosses generational boundaries, such as an adult who assumes the role of an infant or child.

To change socially (often professionally and intimately as well) from one gender to another. Often prior to surgery.

Transphile or Transophile
An admirer (socally or sexually) of those who are transgender(ed) to one degree or another.

The practice of wearing articles of clothing intended for the opposite sex. Attributed to Dr. Mangus Hirshchfeld, ca. 1919.

One who crossdresses.

Transy or Transie
Short-lived slang for a member of the T* community. Has been replaced by the term "tranny" in most cases.

Tri-Ess or Tri-Sigma
Society for the Second Self. A predominately American organization for male crossdressers and their significant others with chapters in several cities. Originally named Foundation for Personality Expression (FPE). Founded by Virginia Prince.



Any of several techniques used to hide or disguise the external male organs under close-fitting garments.

Turner's Syndrome
A genetic disorder of type X0.

1. A male homosexual. 2. A drag queen. This term has been in use since the 1920s to refer to a gay man. Today's usage has broadened somewhat, but the original usage continues.

Woman At Birth. One of several recent acronyms. Synonyms: GAB, GG, WBW

Woman born woman. One of several recent acronyms. Synonyms: GG, GAB, WAB

Crossdresser. Not in common usage since 1970's.

Transvestite. Not in common usage since 1970's.