I recently had the chance to interview a 17-year-old named Casey who identifies as a pre-op FTM trans teen.
It was great to hear about Casey's life, but I also realized that some of the terms he used during our conversation, (like pre-op and FTM) might not be familiar to everyone.
So I thought it would be helpful to give you a quick overview of terms that are often used when discussing transgender life.
This list is in no ways complete, so I'd love to hear from you if you think there are any other commonly used words that I should add!
- Transgender: An umbrella term for individuals who may have the genitals of one sex, but a gender identity usually associated with the other. For example, a person born with a penis who feels female may identify as transgender.
- Transitioning: The process of changing one's sex to match one's gender identity.
- FTM or F2M: A trans person who is transitioning from female to male.
- MTF or M2F: A trans person who is transitioning from male to female.
- Pre-op: A transgender person who has not had surgery to alter his or her body, though he or she may want this.
- Post-op: A transgender person who has had surgery.
- Non-op: A transgender person who does not intend to have surgery.
- Hormone therapy: Synthetic hormones taken to affect things like body shape, hair growth patterns and secondary sex characteristics.
- T: Shorthand for the hormone testosterone, which is taken by some FTM individuals.
- Sex reassignment surgery (sometimes mistakenly called a "sex change operation"): This involves physically changing one's sex through surgery. It is often accompanied by hormone treatments.
Another term you might hear is, genderqueer. Genderqueer refers to people who do not adhere to strictly male or female identities and roles. A genderqueer person often chooses to present as neither clearly male, nor clearly female, but rather as a gender-free individual, whose identity may shift and change over time.
Like gender, language can be fluid. In some circles a term might mean one thing, while in others it might mean something different altogether. Even so, having a general understanding of the language used to discuss transgender life can be a really important step in becoming a more inclusive society.