What Does That Mean? Understanding Transgenderism Terminology

A man scratching his head, wondering what the term "transgender" means.

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. "