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Ellen Friedrichs

Trasngender Terms: FTM, MTF, Pre-Op & Post-Op and More!

By July 29, 2008

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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.

Comments
September 18, 2008 at 12:56 pm
(1) M says:

I believe they’re also using ‘intersexed’ as a new politically correct term (because transsexual has a negative connotation). Also, it’s more of a blanket term that covers other things such as those that identify as two spirited, etc.

September 23, 2008 at 11:00 am
(2) gayteens says:

Actually “intersex” refers to a number of different medical conditions affecting the genitals and reproductive systems. Here’s more info: http://gayteens.about.com/od/adviceandquizzes/l/bl_intersex.htm

July 14, 2009 at 12:05 pm
(3) Jade says:

Hello am Jade and am transgender and i just get so tired of being called sir and dudes it just pisses me off so much when i know and feel that i was born as a gurl.

December 19, 2009 at 11:13 am
(4) David says:

I don’t think transsexual has negative connotations, and I’m a transsexual, so yeah

May 13, 2010 at 6:39 pm
(5) Mike says:

I’m FTM and everything seems so brand new to me.. I mean now life is in FULL color and I never feel so bad as I used to… I have a girlfriend and we’re setting out to Oahu tomorrow and I’ll try to pass as a male without my shirt for the very first time.. Hell, I’m pretty stressed out!

May 29, 2010 at 4:24 am
(6) Christina says:

Thanks for the dictionary :D !

I have two fantastic friends, who are transgendered and they are writing a musical at the moment. One of the main characters are transgendered and this list helped me understanding the terms they use in the script :)

Even I (who is an open-minded person) had a lot of prejudices against the word “transexual”, but as soon as my friends opened up and answers the “why” and “how” all the prejudices disappeared.

I wish that someday the world will know and understand the term “transgendered”, so these misunderstandings will disappear.

December 11, 2010 at 6:17 am
(7) Bpb says:

If you’re born a man, you’re a man. Born a woman, you’re a woman. If you’re a man and like men you’re gay, and vice versa…. why so complicated? Maybe I was born wanting to be a cat, does that mean i should take chemicals to make me grow hair and claws and then get sexual with cats???…

February 11, 2011 at 3:46 pm
(8) Ian says:

@Bpb – What you say about sexual orientation is offensive and hurtful. It’s not nearly as simple as you make it seem. Some of us take years upon years to figure this out, let alone tell other people what’s happening. And as for being transgendered, aesthetics has little to do with why someone would start hormone therapy and/or undergo surgery. So if you felt so much like a cat that you wanted to be one, go for it :P Be yourself, whatever that means, and be proud. For me, it means being my true self, a man.

November 6, 2011 at 5:06 pm
(9) Jeff says:

I am “transgender,” for the sake of identity, but I despise the term, and yes it is very offensive to me. The label needs to be revised, or even better, no labels. I am not “becoming,” anything. Rather, I am just expressing who I have been from the beginning.
I was born this way. It is biological.

Whether or not we can see it with our bare eyes is another story. Whether or not the psychological community understands this, is also another story. Sociological understanding does not happen overnight.

Therefore, I am inter-sexed. I do not believe that I need to have visible biological characteristics, just that they are there. It may be hormone showers during pregnancy, there may be chromosomal differences, or the more visible sexual organs.

Let’s remember that there are inter-sexed people, who having been assigned male at birth, simply because they had male genitalia, have ended up identifying as female, because of the overall genetic make up of that person that was completely overlooked. Every person is an individual, and only they can say who they are. Discrimination because of gender expectations is not only silly, ignorant and arrogant, but it is also disrespectful.

We need to honor each other as human beings, especially when we do not understand. Oppression feels horrible in all its forms, and leaves horrible marks in a person’s life. In the end, I would just like to be called by my name, and be respected for the person that I am.

February 9, 2012 at 10:42 pm
(10) Feliks says:

What about people like me? I’m genetically a boy, psychologically a girl. I don’t really want to get a surgery to change that when I get older, so I think there should be a term for people who share that opinion.

September 11, 2012 at 3:27 am
(11) Alice says:

@ Bpb. Have you ever come across someone who wants to be a cat?

I certainly haven’t (yet) but I can tell you of many, many people who feel they were born into the wrong sex.

I found your comments extremely ignorant, offensive and hurtful. People go through more than enough confusion with these issues without others throwing ridiculously over simplistic and insulting comparisons at them.

If you knew the hell people go through (me included) with things like this you’d think twice before you opened your mouth about things you obviously have no idea about.

Sexuality has little to do with it for your information.

@ Ian – Very well said.

December 15, 2012 at 9:50 am
(12) mike says:

I was Thinking that maybe this is meta physical. We all have a girl and male side to us. But we also have connections of energy transfer in our family connections. Maybe transgender is caused by imbalances in that energy flow in your family. Causing you to want to compensate creating gender confusion

April 14, 2013 at 7:17 pm
(13) creed says:

Intersex is totally the wrong term to use for a trans person. Intersex is some one born a certain way with various chromosome types and combinations before they have a chance to identify with any kind of gender.

1. I think the main thing is that person on hormones to be the opposite sex?

2. How long have they been on hormone therapy? Start early as in late teens or early 20s or look like the sex on is born with for most.

3. From a straight male or women point of view does this person look like a girl or a guy? It really does not matter if they are non, pre or post men or women as the case maybe. We straight are attracted because of the way the opposite sex look. Sadly if they can’t pull it off most trans are wrongly rejected by society and closed minds.

March 14, 2014 at 7:27 pm
(14) Sadye says:

It’s verey effortless to find out any mafter on web as compared
to books, as I found this article at tthis web site.

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