What Does That Mean? Understanding Transgenderism Terminology

By Jeff Johnston
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Understanding the culture — and how to respond in a Christ-like manner — often begins with understanding its terminology.

Understanding the culture — and how to respond in a Christ-like manner — often begins with understanding its terminology. Here are just a few terms often used by the transgender-identified community:

Cisgender: Recently coined to describe those who have never experienced a “disconnect” between their physical body and their perceived identity.

Gender: A term borrowed from linguistics by the psychology profession, starting in the 1950’s and ’60s. Until then, the noun “sex” was used to specify male or female.

Gender Expression: How people “express” themselves: as male, female, some combination of the two, or neither. Gender expression may change from day to day.

Gender Identity: How a person identifies, regardless of their physical sex. It is not necessarily related to sexual attractions.

Gender Identity Disorder (GID): A psychiatric term used for those with strong cross-gender identification and gender dysphoria, a state of unhappiness about one’s gender.

Gender-bender, gender blender, gender non-conforming, genderqueer, queer, pre-op, post-op, and more: There are literally dozens of terms to describe the condition of gender confusion and the people involved. There is often disagreement over terminology and a constant invention of new terms. The few listed above are becoming more common and are often used by transgender-identified activists and their allies.

Intersexuality or Disorders of Sexual Development: Congenital, biological conditions where an individual has ambiguous or indeterminate genitalia, or where there is a discord between a person’s chromosomes and bodily gender.

Transgender: An umbrella term including those who believe their gender differs from their bodily gender. It includes cross-dressers and drag performers, and does not necessarily mean that a person has had surgery or hormones. “

Copyright © 2012 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved.

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About the Author

Jeff Johnston

Jeff Johnston works as an Issues Analyst for Focus on the Family, writing and teaching about marriage, homosexuality and gender, as well as encouraging and equipping Christians to engage the culture on these issues. He regularly shares his story of struggling as a Christian with same-sex attractions and how God brought healing and change to his life. Before working at …

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