What is Trans*?

‘Transgender’ (abbreviated to Trans*) is used as an umbrella term to describe anyone who feels that the sex that was assigned to them at their birth incompletely describes or fails to describe them. This term umbrellas:

  • Trans women/men – Individuals who identify with the opposite gender to which they were assigned at birth.
  • Non-Binary people – Individuals who identify outside of simply ‘male’ and ‘female’.

A difference is often perceived between the terms ‘sex’ and ‘gender’. Sex is used to describe the biological characteristics (chromosomal/gonadal). Gender is how someone perceives themselves within society, and is often expressed through their look, actions and behaviour.. The two terms are used to varying degrees.

The term Trans* is very broad (a huge brolly) encompassing may different constituents who face a distinct sort of issues. There are large overlaps within the term as well for example, many intersex people do not self-identify as Transgender because they feel their condition does not relate to gender but rather to physical sex. There is no right way to be trans*, and all the identities however are equally valid.


  • Transgender: A person who does not identify with the gender given to them at birth – usually used for identifying as the opposite gender (ie. trans women and trans men).
  • Trans*: A more umbrella term for those who identify as any gender other than the one given to them at birth – the * denotes inclusion of a non-gender binary identity.
  • Transsexual: An older term for transgender, more often used by people who desire to change their anatomy to match their gender identity.
  • Cisgender: A person who identifies with the gender given to them at birth.
  • Sex: Referring to a person’s reproductive anatomy. Usually male, female or intersex. A person’s sex at birth is commonly used to determine their birth gender.
  • Gender Identity: A person’s internal experience of themselves and their gender.
  • Gender Roles: Socially constructed expectations and standards associated with a gender. Conformity to a gender role does not reflect a person’s real gender.
  • Gender Dysphoria: Negative feelings caused by mismatch between someone’s body and their gender identity. Many trans* people experience gender dysphoria, but it is not an essential feeling in order to be trans*.
  • Intersex: Someone born with reproductive anatomy or genetics that do not fit the conventional male or female. Intersex people can be cis or trans.
  • Gender Binary: The social construct of two genders, male and female.
  • Non-Binary/Genderqueer: Umbrella term for gender identities that are not entirely male or female. Examples are gender-fluid (a gender that is changeable), agender (no gender) and bigender (having two or more genders).


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