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Gender Identity – for professionals

“Transgender” (or “trans”) is an umbrella term to describe people whose gender identity (the gender with which they associate themselves) and/or gender expression (how they outwardly show their gender) differs from what is typically associated with the sex assigned to them at birth. Trans people may describe themselves using a wide variety of other terms. Many trans people are prescribed hormones and/or undergo surgery as a way of expressing their gender identity. However, not all trans people take such steps and trans identity does not depend on undergoing any form of medical treatment.

The WSCP has published an information and guidance document to support professionals and those working with young people who are trans or questioning their gender identity.

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Useful links, resources and articles

Below are some terms you may hear in relation to gender identity, including the definitions


LGBTQ is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer abd/or questioning (sometimes with a “+” at the end in an effort to be more inclusive); GSM is gender and sexual minorities; DSG is diverse genders and sexualities. Quiltbag is queer (or questioning), undecided, intersex, lesbian, trans, bisexual, asexual (or allied) and gay (or genderqueer).


A (typically straight- or cis-identified) person who supports, and respects for members of the LGBTQ community. While the word doesn’t necessitate action, we consider people to be active allies who take action upon this support and respect, this also indicates to others that you are an ally.


A person who fluctuates between traditionally “woman” and “man” gender-based behavior and identities, identifying with both genders (and sometimes a third gender).

Biological sex

A medical term used to refer to the chromosomal, hormonal and anatomical characteristics that are used to classify an individual as female or male or intersex.


A person whose gender identity, gender expression and biological sex align (eg, man and male-assigned).

Coming out

(1) The process by which one accepts and/or comes to identify one’s own sexuality or gender identity (to “come out” to oneself). (2) The process by which one shares one’s sexuality or gender identity with others (to “come out” to friends, etc).


Generally with another term attached, like gender-fluid or fluid-sexuality, fluid(ity) describes an identity that may change or shift over time between or within the mix of the options available (eg, man and woman, bi and straight).

FtM/F2M; MtF/M2F

Abbreviation for female-to-male transgender or transsexual person; male-to-female transgender or transsexual person.

Gender expression

The external display of gender, through a combination of dress, demeanour, social behaviour and other factors, generally measured on a scale of masculinity and femininity.

Gender identity

The internal perception of an one’s gender, and how they label themselves, based on how much they align or don’t align with what they understand their options for gender to be.


A gender identity label often used by people who do not identify with the binary of man/woman; or as an umbrella term for many gender non-conforming or non-binary identities (eg, agender, bigender, genderfluid).


Someone whose combination of chromosomes, gonads, hormones, internal sex organs, and genitals differs from the two expected patterns of male or female. Formerly known as hermaphrodite (or hermaphroditic), but these terms are now considered outdated and derogatory.


A person who experiences sexual, romantic, physical or spiritual attraction for members of all gender identities and expressions.


Used as an umbrella term to describe individuals who don’t identify as straight. Due to its historical use as a derogatory term, it is not embraced by all LGBTQ people.


An individual who or when someone is unsure about or is exploring their own sexual orientation or gender identity.


Attracted to genderqueer and transsexual people and expressions.

Third gender

A person who does not identify with either “man” or “woman” but identifies with another gender.


An umbrella term covering a range of identities that transgress socially defined gender norms. Trans with an * is often used to indicate that you are referring to the larger group nature of the term. (2) A person who lives as a member of a gender other than that expected based on anatomical sex.


This term is primarily used to refer to the process a trans* person undergoes when changing their bodily appearance either to be more congruent with the gender/sex they feel themselves to be and/or to be in harmony with their preferred gender expression.


A person who identifies psychologically as a gender/sex other than the one to which they were assigned at birth. Transsexuals often wish to transform their bodies hormonally and surgically to match their inner sense of gender/sex.


A person who dresses as the binary opposite gender expression (“cross-dresses”) for any one of many reasons, including relaxation, fun, and sexual gratification (often called a “cross-dresser,” and should not be confused with transsexual).


Gender Identity Research & Education Society (GIRES) and Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has created an e-learning course to help professionals and families understand the needs of these young people. To access the e-learning module please click on the link.


Action for Children – guidance for professionals

LGBT Youth – Trans Youth in Care