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​Establishing a Common Vocabulary  

June 22, 2022

To engage in productive discourse about what it means to be a transgender man or woman, we need a common vocabulary to guide us.  While there has been an explosion of new terms and acronymn in the past 30 years, this post will focus on key terms that relate specifically to transgender men and women.


SEX. The biological sex assigned to a person at birth based on external genitalia.  


GENDER  has two components:


(1)   GENDER IDENTITY. A person's internal sense of being a man  or  woman. (Non-binary will be covered in a separate post)


(2)  GENDER EXPRESSION. The appearance, behavior and personality styles  expressed by the individual. Usually influenced by culture. 


For most people, their sex and gender are quietly interlaced and in alignment.  Under these circumstances, many people do not consciously differentiate between their sex and their gender, unless there is a feeling of misalignment.


GENDER DYSPHORIA.  The sense of unease a person experiences when they feel misalignment between their sex and gender.  This unease or dissatisfaction can lead to depression and anxiety while also affecting normal daily life.