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Understanding Gender. Learning the Language.
Terminology. Acronyms. History.

Gender identity terminology and language is being changed and created all the time. I have included some basic definitions for trans, non-binary and gender-diverse language. There are numerous articles and lists of terms. Included at the end are some historical references.

“The gift of language. The more we give this gift of language to others about things we don’t understand, the more awareness we’re building. The more awareness, the more we normalize things that generally carry stigmas, the more we lift one another up. This is how this all works. Let’s continue to give the gift of passing on definitions and education and language for our trans community. Our entire lives are based off of education and learning and raising awareness. We can do this for our trans loved ones. It’s up to us, allies, to share the language we’ve learned with others who are uninformed. The onus isn’t on the trans community to educate. It’s on us. We know knowledge is power. It was a gift to learn the language I needed to understand my transgender son. Pass it on.”             

 — Excerpt from The Gift of Language, a blog post by Vanessa Nichols, Dec 2019



6 Trans identities to understand
By Rainbow Coalition of Yellowknife. Infographic/poster.  Northwest Territories.

11 Gender terms to know when talking to your kids

By S. Bear Bergman. Today's Parent magazine. Jan 2021.  (Canadian)
“Learning these terms now will help in your discussions about gender with your kids later. Here’s a breakdown of some key concepts.”


auncle, ommer, ontle: gender-neutral aunt/uncle term?

By Jed. May 2018.

Some comments include suggestions like: Onkie,

By Trans Student Educational Resources (TSER ). (US)
“Terms are always changing in the LGBTQ+ community. This list will be updated as often as possible to keep up with the rapid proliferation of queer and trans language.”

FTM basics: Terminology
by Hudson’s FTM Resource Guide. 

FTM is in reference to transitioning Female to Male.  “This page contains definitions of a number of terms that are commonly used within FTM and transgender communities. These definitions are not meant to be the “last word” on any particular term or subject; rather, they are meant to help orient those who may be new to FTM issues. Please think of this page as one possible starting point toward knowledge and understanding of trans men’s issues. Remember that each of us is different, and the best way to learn is to be inquisitive, respectful, and to keep an open mind.”

​Gender definitions
Trans-Parenting website


Gender inclusive language: Building relationships
By Trans Care BC.  Chart.
"Gender-inclusive language signals that your service and space welcomes diversity. Greet everyone new without using gender markers. Once you know the words people use to describe their families and themselves, use their words in a respectful and professional manner."


Gender neutral: Aunt/uncle

By Clio Hartzer. Being’ Enby blog.  Jan 2020.

Gender neutral language in English
Wikipedia (nonbinary wiki)
Incredible list of nonbinary terms for friends, family…


Gender neutral/queer titles

By Gender Queeries

Great list of ideas for gender-neutral “family”, ”relationship”, “official”, as well as miscellaneous titles. Their site also has numerous other categories of gender neutral names.

Gender neutral term for aunt and uncle?

Posted by Grant Barrett. A Way With Words podcast. May 2017.

"A transgender and gender-nonconforming listener wonders if there’s a gender-neutral term for 'aunt' or 'uncle.' Some people have suggested pibling, meaning the “sibling of one’s parent.” Others have proposed baba, titi, bibi, zizi, unty or untie, or simply cousin. In the same way that kids often come up with a pet name for their grandparents, perhaps nieces and nephews (or nieflings, as they’re sometimes collectively called) will come up with their own term. The tumblr Gender Queeries has more suggestions for all kinds of gender-neutral words denoting kinship."  This is part of a complete episode.

Gender neutral terms to address a group
"A poster that @sara_levine created for her grade 4 students went viral after she posted it on Facebook."


Gender nonconformity in children and adolescents
Endocrine Society / Hormone Health Network.  (US)
Discusses terminology, hormones, gender dysphoria, etc.


Gender queer/neutral pronouns

By Gender Queeries

LifeOutsideTheBinary website.
Terminology list.


Glossary of LBGTQ terms
By Liz Dyer, Founder of Serendipitydodah — Home of the Mama Bears
A blog entry containing a glossary of common LGBTQ terms on a US site for moms/parents of LGBTQ kids.

Guide to being a trans ally

by Straight for Equality, a project of Pflag National. (US)
A PDF booklet with information to guide allies of the trans community. Has useful general information.


Handy guide to pronouns
By Rainbow Coalition of Yellowknife. (POSTER)


​How to they/them: A visual guide to nonbinary pronouns and the world of gender fluidity
By Stuart Getty. 2020.  Book.
“What does nonbinary really mean? What is gender nonconforming? And isn’t they a plural pronoun? In this charming and disarming guide, a real-life they-using genderqueer writer unpacks all your burning questions in a fun, visual way. No soapboxes or divisive comment-section wars here! Sometimes funny, sometimes serious, always human, this gender-friendly primer will get you up to speed. It”s about more than just bathrooms and pronouns–this is about gender expression and the freedom to choose how to identify. While they might only be for some, that freedom is for everyone!”


Is there a difference between being transgender and transsexual?
Written by Mere Abrams, LCSW on November 21, 2019. Medically reviewed by Janet Brito, Ph.D., LCSW, CST.  (US)

Language of gender
Gender Spectrum website. (US)
“The vocabulary of gender continues to evolve and there is not universal agreement about the definitions of many terms. Nonetheless, here is some working language and examples of frequently used (and misused) terms. We offer them as a starting place for dialogue and understanding, which begins by clarifying how we are using various terms, rather than asserting that they represent the final or only definition of the various terms.”


Making a mistake with someone’s name or pronouns

By Sarah Kennedy Coaching.  (US)

“When someone makes a name change or pronoun, it is a gift to be given the new ones. You have been entrusted with a piece of themselves so it is not to be taken lightly. Yet we are human and our brains love to work on autopilot. So they will make mistakes now and again. How we handle these mistakes is important.”

Nonbinary identities and labels

By Meaghan Ray. Let’s Talk Gender Podcast. Season 2, Episode 1. Oct 2021.  (Alberta)

“To start off Season 2, I will be talking about nonbinary identities and labels. We talk about this, in Season 1: Episode 1: Language and Labels, but this time I’ll focus specifically on non-binary identities and labels. “

Non-binary terms

By Liz Dyer, Serendipitydodah – Home of the Mama Bears, Sep 2020.  (US)

Tons of optional non-binary terms!  “Here is a helpful list of non-binary terms. Many of these terms were gathered by crowdsourcing LGBTQ people. Of course this isn’t a comprehensive list. If you have suggestions, know of other terms or have requests let us know in the comments.: Here is a helpful list of non-binary terms. Many of these terms were gathered by crowdsourcing LGBTQ people. Of course this isn’t a comprehensive list. If you have suggestions, know of other terms or have requests let us know in the comments.”

Non-binary “they” and style guides

“The current (May 2020) state of the rules.”

By Clio Hartzer. Being’ Enby blog.  May 2020.

A note on the nonbinary ‘they’. It’s now in the dictionary.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary
“We recently announced the addition of the nonbinary use of they—that is, they as it’s used to refer to a single person whose gender identity is nonbinary—and a lot of people had some questions, “why?” being primary among them”.


Pronouns: Beyond the basics!

By Straight for Equality, a project of Pflag National.  Chart.  (US)
A chart on respectful pronouns beyond the basic ones.


A quick & easy guide to queer & trans identities

By Mady G.  Book. 2019.

“In this quick and easy guide to queer and trans identities, cartoonists Mady G and Jules Zuckerberg guide you through the basics of the LGBT+ world! Covering essential topics like sexuality, gender identity, coming out, and navigating relationships, this guide explains the spectrum of human experience through informative comics, interviews, worksheets, and imaginative examples. A great starting point for anyone curious about queer and trans life, and helpful for those already on their own journeys!”

A quick & easy guide to they/them pronouns
By Archie Bongiovanni and Tristan Jimerson. 2018.  Book.
A quick, easy and important educational comic guide to using gender-neutral pronouns.
“A great, simple look at the importance of using correct pronouns; extremely accessible to those for whom gender-neutral language is a new concept.” –– School Library Journal (starred review)

Archie, a snarky genderqueer artist, is tired of people not understanding gender neutral pronouns. Tristan, a cisgender dude, is looking for an easy way to introduce gender neutral pronouns to his increasingly diverse workplace. The longtime best friends team up in this short and fun comic guide that explains what pronouns are, why they matter, and how to use them. They also include what to do if you make a mistake, and some tips-and-tricks for those who identify outside of the binary to keep themselves safe in this binary-centric world. A quick and easy resource for people who use they/them pronouns, and people who want to learn more!”
2018 Chicago Public Library Best Books of the Year – Teen Nonfiction. Autostraddle 20 Best LGBTQ Graphic Novels of 2018.

Range of gender identities


”Everyone has a gender identity—a feeling or sense of being male, female or somewhere in between. Sometimes people’s gender identity matches their bodies, and sometimes it does not. When you share your gender identity with the world through clothing, makeup, how you talk, act and more, this is called ‘gender expression.’ A person’s gender identity and gender expression can be different.”

Reimagine gender
“Gender is a word you’ve probably heard a thousand times; discussions about gender are everywhere. But if you’re like most people, you may not have thought much about it, and what you’ve read and heard may have left you more bewildered than when you started. We’re here to help. / Reimagine Gender began with the work being done at our sibling organization, Gender Spectrum, which was founded by Stephanie Brill in 2006 with a focus on gender-diverse kids and their families in the United States. As awareness of gender grew, the organization received requests to provide education and training about gender in areas beyond Gender Spectrum’s mission. Meanwhile, we realized the need to work with those who most directly shape how gender is seen and understood, particularly corporations, NGOs, legislators and policy makers.””


Singular nonbinary ‘they’: Is it ‘they are’ or ‘they is’? Notes on a conjugation
Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Some common myths about gender
Gender Spectrum website. (US)
“Most of us have had little or no education about gender. So it’s important to understand and address some common myths many of us hold about gender, children and youth.”


​That’s a really good question #2 – What do all the letters mean and which acronym should I use?

By Liz Dyer, Founder of  Serendipitydodah for Moms – Home of the Mama Bears

“There are some common questions that we hear over and over from moms of lgbtq kids and one of those questions goes like this:  What do all the letters mean in the longer lgbt acronyms and which acronym should I use?“

That’s a really good question #5 – Can I just use someone’s name instead of trying to use ‘they/them’ pronouns?

By Liz Dyer, Founder of  Serendipitydodah for Moms – Home of the Mama Bears

“Someone recently mentioned to me that they were very uncomfortable using ‘they/them’ pronouns for someone because there were sentences where it sounded weird to them. They asked if I thought it would be offensive to use the person’s name instead of using ‘they/them' in place of ‘he/him’ or ‘she/her’ “.

Trans-friendly pronouns: An infographic

Graphic is named “A teacher’s guide to trans-friendly pronouns: Why is this important?”

By Clio Hartzer. Being’ Enby blog. Infographic last revised Jan 16, 2021.  (US)

“I designed this for teachers who prefer a visual summary of the key ideas on pronoun use for transgender and nonbinary students. I also have longer text-based pieces for those who want more details:  “Non-binary students: Non-binary ‘they’ and style guides”, and “Non-binary students and pronouns.”

Trans wisdom: Language is important

“Pronouns are for everyone.”

By Meaghan Ray. Purple and Green and the Life In Between blog post. April 2021.  (Alberta)

TransWhat? Glossary of terms

TransWhat website.   (US)
“I encourage everyone to take a look at the TransWhat? pages, including people who do identify as trans, and people who [assume that they!] don’t know a trans person. However, I’m targeting these explanations specifically towards those who have learned — whether recently or a while ago — that someone they are close to is choosing to transition in some way. I hope that, by providing this information to those who might otherwise be confused, I can help maintain peace and support among trans people and their friends/families.”


Understanding gender
Gender Spectrum website. (US)
“Understandings of gender continually evolve. In the course of a person’s life, the interests, activities, clothing and professions that are considered the domain of one gender or another evolve in ways both small and large.”

​Unisex and gender-neutral names

By Gender Queeries.

A-Z list.   (US)

​What does it mean to be transgender?

By Sarah Kennedy Coaching.  (US)

“Humans are mean making machines. Our brains are wired for safety and seeking clarity. In order to find that safety, our brains will assign meaning where it isn’t necessarily there. By generating meaning, we create a sense of certainty and comfort. So let’s dive in to see what meaning is real versus the meaning that we may be self generating about the word transgender.“

What does the word transgender mean? Pose actress Angelica Ross breaks down the history and evolution of the term “transgender

By Angelica Ross of the “Pose” TV series. September 2018.  (US)


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