The most important information to know about language in this publication is that no single term or definition for any given concept is the only term or definition. Instead of rigidly following the terms and definitions found here, listen to what the people you are serving say, and mirror what they say.
Keeping this in mind, the following are working definitions for this guide and are not intended to be universally accepted or applied. Do not "correct" victims you are serving if their self-definitions differ from what is found below.
The socially constructed concept that there are only two genders: male and female.
Cisgender (or non-transgender)
Non-transgender individuals who are comfortable in the gender they were assigned at birth.
FTM, or female-to-male
An individual who was assigned female at birth but who may now identify as male or who may have taken medical, legal, or social steps to present in more masculine ways.
How a person expresses gender through clothing, grooming, speech, hair style, body language, social interactions, and other behaviors.
An individual's internal sense of being male, female, or another gender (not necessarily visible to others).
A person who does not adhere to traditional binary gender identity, roles, or expression.
The direction a person's gender may be moving, for example, toward a more feminine or a more masculine identity or expression. The term "gender vector" acknowledges that gender is not necessarily binary (or does not have an end point) and that many peoples' identities evolve over time.
MTF, or male-to-female
An individual who was assigned male at birth but who may now identify as female or who may have taken medical, legal, or social steps to present in more feminine ways.
Words that can be used to refer to an individual in place of their name. Common masculine pronouns include he, him, his; common feminine pronouns are she, her, hers. Some transgender individuals use gender-neutral pronouns (e.g., ze, s/he, sie, hir), and the singular use of "they" is growing in popularity.
An identity or a process of introspection whereby a person learns about their gender identity. This process can happen at any age or at multiple times throughout one's life.
An acronym for significant others, friends, family, and allies. Everyone is a SOFFA to many others. Everyone has a SOFFA circlethe people around them who are a part of their life.
Transgender, or trans
An umbrella term that encompasses a wide range of people whose gender identity or expression may not match the sex they were assigned at birth. "Trans" is used as frequently or more frequently than "transgender."
Process and time within which a person goes from predominantly being seen as one gender to predominantly being seen as another gender.