Put 10 trans people in a room and I guarantee you’ll come up with at least a dozen different definitions. There is no complete consensus – and interpretations do change. This is how I’ve used the following terms on this website.

Acquired gender

 The Gender Recognition Act 2004 uses the phrase ‘acquired gender’ to refer to the gender in which a transgender person lives and presents to the world. This is not the gender that they were assigned at birth, but it is the gender in which they should be treated.



Assigned Female At Birth/ Assigned Male at Birth

How individuals were identified at the time they were born - in contrast to how they may identify later.

Affirmed Gender

Term used to describe the gender after a person has transitioned (generally preferred to the term ‘acquired gender’).

Body Dysmorphia

The “Phantom Limb” syndrome is well reported – where individuals have lost limbs but feel that those limbs are still there; sometimes causing significant distress. Body Dysmorphia may be the reverse of this – where the brain’s map of the body doesn’t include a particular part.  

It seems quite reasonable, for example, to expect the process that instigates the development, or not, of sexual organs during foetal growth to include the mapping of the relevant parts in the brain. If the brain remains significantly female in spite of the body developing as male, it may, for example, that the penis develops physically but is not present on the brain’s map of the body – and the individual feels that it doesn’t belong to them.

Whilst this may be reported in a significant proportion of transsexual individuals, it is not necessarily restricted to gender variant individuals. I had a client once who identified as a gay male with no desire to change genders – but wanted to have his penis removed as he didn’t feel it belonged to him.


An individual born with matching sex and gender identity. Ie not transgendered / gender variant.


Presenting as a Cisgendered person rather than as a trans person; trying to remain Stealth

Cross Dresser

Someone who wears the clothes usually expected to be worn by someone of the opposite gender, typically of a part time activity.  (see Transvestite for more detail)

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