Resources are invaluable for both professionals and those personally touched by transgender identities. To assist you in your search for information we have established “Professional” and “Community” resources. Below is terminology and language that may benefit everyone seeking information related to transgender identities. 

What are the differences between biological sex, gender identity and gender expression?

Sex

A person’s biology. Sex is determined by a person’s composition of chromosomes, hormones and internal/external anatomy. Society tends to recognize male and female as the two primary sexes, however in the book Sexing the Body researcher Ann Fausto-Sterling has determined at least five biological sexes.

Gender Identity

A person’s psychological sense of gender identification. A person’s sense of being a man, woman, bi-gendered or two-spirited, agender, genderqueer or gender fluid. A person is born with their gender identity, with a sense of it as early as 18 months. In the book, The Transgender Child by Stephanie Brill and Rachel Pepper, gender identity development is described to begin around age 2 and become stabilized by age 12.

Gender Expression

A person’s communication of gender. The way a person expresses their gender that exists on a continuum that includes masculine, androgynous and feminine characteristics. Gender expression is socially constructed and may or may not be related to one’s gender identity.

What’s the difference between someone who identifies as transgender vs. transsexual?


Transgender

Is an umbrella term for the transgender and transsexual community. Specifically defined as anyone whose gender expression (communication of gender) is considered non-traditional for the sex they were assigned at birth, such as cross dressers, drag artists, androgynous individuals, genderqueer identities, masculine women, feminine men, etc. This umbrella term also includes individuals who psychologically identify as a gender different from the one they were assigned at birth, otherwise referred to as Transsexual.

Transsexual

A person who identifies psychologically as a gender different from the one they were assigned at birth. To match their outer body to their inner sense of gender, a transsexual person may change or have changed their body through hormone therapy and gender confirmation surgeries. It should be noted, some people do not like to use the term “transsexual” as they feel there is stigma and misleading-perceptions attached to its use.

Gender Creative and Gender Independent Children

Gender Creative is a term used to describe children who’s gender expression and/or gender identity differs from what others expect from them, due to their sex assigned at birth. Some children who are gender creative will later identify as transgender, some will continue living a life of gender fluidity and others, as they age, will start to align their gender expression and identity with their peers. The best thing adults can do for gender creative children is to let them teach us who they are, instead of us telling them who they are or how they should act.

Social Transition

—A child or adult who lives and socializes in the world in the gender they identify as, not the sex they were assigned at birth. During a social transition, an individual may go by chosen name and pronoun, use facilities that align with their gender identity, wear clothes that align with their gender expression, etc. 

Medical Transition

—Beginning medical treatments that aligns a person’s physical body with their internal sense of gender.