Know Your Lingo

Sex
Your reproductive role, whether or not you reproduce.

Gender
Sugar and spice and everything nice / Snips and snails and puppy-dogs’ tales. Your perceived role in society, formerly synonymous with your sex but now split into potentially unlimited possibilities. Most people still conflate sex and gender. This can get confusing very fast.

Female
XX

Male
XY

You will read that it’s more nuanced than this, but note that there is no third sex. There are variations of the above, and rare conditions where it’s difficult to tell just what a person is (other than fully human, of course). We are a sexually binary species with a spectrum of gender.

Non-binary
Perhaps wisely sitting the whole thing out, though can give grammarians a headache.

Transexual
Someone who has surgically altered themselves to approximate the physical characteristics of the opposite sex.

Transgender
Has mostly replaced the above in common useage. They may or may not have surgery. The vast majority don’t. (You can’t blame them. Surgery is traumatic, and satisfactory results are far from guaranteed.) They’re more likely to have hormone therapy, but this is not considered a requirement.

Trans woman
Born male, identifies as a woman. They get the lioness’s share of the bad press.

Trans man
Born female, identifies as a man.

Gender dysphoria
The overwhelming conviction that you were born in a body with the wrong plumbing.

TRA
Trans Rights Activist. See Twitter. (It’s at or near the bottom. Sorry, I haven’t alphabetised this.)

GRA
Gender Recognition Act. Act of Parliament that allows people who have gender dysphoria to change their legal gender. They mean sex. I think. See what I mean about getting confused?

Self-ID
Overriding the expert opinion of the doctor or midwife who brought you into the world, on your own recognizance.

Gender Critical
Those not buying what they consider to be the TRA agenda of making biological aka natal women a subset of their own sex.

Cis
Or cisgender. According to a more authoritative source than this, has its origin in the Latin-derived prefix cis-, meaning “on this side of”, which is the opposite of trans-, meaning “across from” or “on the other side of”. Comes from the neologism cissexual. Zissexuell, in the original German.

Not everyone wishes to be called cis. Zissexuell sounds pretty good though.

TERF
Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist. Almost never used as a compliment.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T
Something everybody wants. Trans women and men don’t wish their status to be considered any less ‘normal’ than anyone else, and to be allowed to live as the opposite sex, in most if not all respects. Gender critical women want their spaces, including rape crisis centres and refuges, single sex hospital wards, prisons, changing rooms, toilets, and sports, reserved for females.

Toilet
Where discussions frequently get bogged down. Bathroom/restroom in the US.

Twitter
The main battleground to win hearts and minds. Fortunately it still takes sticks and stones to break bones, or the casualties would rival Covid.

Invisible Women
A book you might want to read no matter how you identify.

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