Transgender terms

Transgender people are a part of the LGBTQ community. Transgender people do not belong to the gender they were given at birth. They may choose to change their gender. Read about the transgender community and learn the meaning of transgender terms.

transgender model against brown background
Photo: iStock/Ranta Images

What is transgender?

Transgender means crossing genders. Transgender people are often called simply “trans.” Trans people belong to a gender that does not match their assigned sex, or the sex they were born with. For example, a trans man may look like a woman to others, but inside, he feels like a man. Some trans people take hormones or have surgery to change their body’s sex to match their gender. Some do not.

In the United States, 0.6% of people are trans (this is an estimated 1.4 million people). Trans people have different rights and needs than lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer people. You can learn more about transgender rights

There are trans-friendly resources that are just for trans people. Resources for gay, lesbian, and bisexual people resources don’t always help trans people.

What are transgender terms?

Transgender terms are words and phrases that are used in connection with trans people. They are terms that show respect to trans people and do not exclude them.

Words to know

Gender neutral

Gender neutral means it doesn’t matter what gender you are or identify with. It is used to describe policies and rules that do not say anything about people’s sex or gender. It applies to job titles and other descriptions that say nothing about whether a person is male or female (for example, salesperson instead of salesman or saleswoman).


A pronoun is a word you use instead of a noun. Pronouns used to talk about people are different for men and women. Trans people can use pronouns to define their gender. If they identify as a woman, their pronouns are she and her. If their gender is a man, they use he or his.


Trans-friendly is that something is supportive of or welcomes transgender people. It can be a business, a group, a place, or anything else.


To transition means to shift from one state to another. For trans people, transitioning means making a change from birth sex to a gender that matches their identity.


Unisex means that something suitable for any sex, male or female. For example, you might see a unisex sign on a bathroom. That means anyone can use it.


Cisgender is a word for a people who identify with the gender they were given at birth.