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Trans 101


What is "Trans"/"Cis"?

  • Trans or Transgender is an adjective describing a person whose gender identity is different from the sex they were assigned at birth. 
  • Cis or Cisgender is an adjective for describing a person whose gender identity matches their sex assigned at birth. 
  • Transfemale or Transwoman is a transgender person who identities as female.
  • Transmale or Transman is a transgender person who identities as male.

What is Gender Identity and Gender Expression?

  • Gender Identity is a sense of one's self as male, female, both, neither, or other gender(s), which may or may not be the same as the person's sex assigned at birth.  
  • Gender Expression is how one expresses oneself though one's name, pronouns, clothing, haircut, behavior, voice, or body characteristics. 

What is "Non-Binary"?

  • Non-Binary is an umbrella term for all genders other than female or male.  Not all non-binary people identity as trans and vice versa.


  • A Transmasculine person is a transgender person who identities greater with masculinity than femininity.  This can range between gender neutral and male.
  • A Transfeminine person is a transgender person who identities greater with feminine than masculinity.  This can range between gender neutral and female.
  • An Agender person is a transgender person who doesn't identify as female, male, or anything in between.

Quick Things to Avoid

What not to do. Why not to do it. What to do.
Outing someone's identity without permission. This is a violation of the person's privacy, and might endanger them. Never out someone without permission. Let that person choose who to come out to and when.
Using "Transgenders", "A transgender", "Transgendered" Transgender is an adjective and not a noun or verb. "Transgender people" or "A transgender person" or "Transgender"
Using "Transsexual" or "Tranny" Transsexual is a mostly outdated term. Tranny is extremely offensive. "Transgender" or "Trans"
Assuming a transgender person's sexual orientation. Gender identity is separate from sexual orientation. They can have any sexual or romantic orientation. Do not assume.
Asking a transgender person about surgery, genitals, or sex life. These are personal questions about their body, and is invasive and inappropriate. Not all transgender people have or want surgery. Do not ask.
Ignore someone's preferred name or asking for their birth name. Legal name changes can cost a lot of money, and asking for a birth name is incredibly disrespectful. Use the person's preferred name.
Guessing someone's pronouns. They may not "pass" as what they identify as, and trying to guess invalidates their identity. Ask the person what their pronouns are. Use they/them as a neutral pronoun if you do not know and can't ask.