Today marks the first anniversary of Caitlyn Jenner’s public debut as a transgender woman on the cover of Vanity Fair.
Few stories have gripped the public’s imagination as much as the former Olympic athlete’s journey to womanhood. But while this transformation was relatively straightforward and widely extolled, the same cannot be said of changes to our gender lexicon.
Last week, we published the New York City Human Rights Commission’s Gender Identity info card, which lists some examples of gender identities protected under the New York City Human Rights Law. Much to our regret, the city does not provide definitions for these.
But fear not. If you’re still not versed in all of the non-traditional identities under the sun, we’ve got the perfect guide for you.
Cisgender: 1) A person whose gender identity is aligned with what they were given at birth, based on their physical sex (i.e.: a non-trans person). Most people can be described as cisgender. As the Merriam Webster puts it: “If the pronouncement your mom heard at your birth—It’s a girl! or It’s a boy!—still feels like it was accurate, then you’re cisgender;” 2) At times, a derogatory internet slur.
Neutrois: A non-binary gender identity generally considered neutral or null, i.e. not corresponding to either male, female, or trans. See also: “Agender”
Agender: See “Neutrois”
Trans*/Transgender: 1) A person who experiences a disconnect between their gender identity and birth sex; 2) An umbrella term for just about anybody who doesn’t conform to the traditional models of gender/sex.
Bisexual: A person emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to both men and women. It is not necessarily an equal split between genders, and there may be a preference for one gender over others.
Transsexual: A person who experiences a gender identity totally opposite to the the sex they were assigned at birth . In other words, someone who feels like they were born in the “wrong” body, and wishes to permanently transition to the gender with which they identify, often through hormone replacement and sex reassignment therapies. e.g.: Felicity Hoffman in Transamerica (2005)
Drag Queen: An individual who identifies as a man or male and dons feminine clothing, makeup, and mannerisms for the purpose of theater, performance, or in everyday life. e.g: the bearded queen of Europe and 2014 Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst.
Drag King: An individual who identifies as a woman or female and dresses in masculine clothing, makeup, and adopts a stereotypically masculine demeanor for the purpose of entertainment or personal enjoyment.
Cross-dresser: Someone who wears clothing commonly associated with the opposite sex for the purpose of entertainment, disguise, comfort, or identity.
Pangender / Omnigender: 1) A person whose identity is not limited to one gender and who may feel like they identify with a wide multiplicity of genders or all of them at once; 2) Someone who likes a little bit of everything in the sexual catalog.
Gender Blender / Gender Bender: 1) A young adult novel by Blake Nelson; 2) A person who “bends” and subverts traditional gender roles by mixing masculine and feminine identities, codes, and markers, usually to expose their artificiality.
Gender Fluid: A person whose gender identity fluctuates over time. A gender fluid person may feel like a boy one day, a girl another, or neutrois, or everything at once.
Hijra: A term widely used in South Asia to describe cross dressers, male-to female transsexuals, eunuchs, and transgender individuals. See also “Third Gender.”
Male-to-Female: A person who is born male and subsequently transitions to female, by adopting the identity or physical appearance of a woman, generally though sex reassignment surgery, e.g.: Caitlyn Jenner.
Female-to-Male: Opposite of “Male to Female”
Non-Op: A transgender person who has not yet, or has chosen not to undergo sex reassignment surgery.
Butch: A woman, or lesbian who exhibits stereotypically masculine traits in appearance and manner.
Femme: A woman, lesbian or a gay man who exhibits stereotypically feminine traits in appearance and manner.
Femme Queen: A term issued from the LGBT ballroom community (an underground subculture) to describe a male to female transsexual.
Androgynous: A person exhibiting both male and female characteristics. e.g: David Bowie in all his glittery Ziggy Stardust glory.
Two spirit: A term used by indigenous North Americans to describe individuals who do not confirm to traditional gender roles and tend to embody both female and male characteristics or “spirits.”
Third Gender: A person who is are categorized as neither male of female. Also a societal category used to describe societies that recognize more than two genders, e.g.: India.
Genderqueer: See “genderfluid”
The Human Rights Commission’s press secretary, Seth Hoy, told Heat Street that while the City does not keep records of the number of New Yorkers who identify as transgender (or any other gender identity, excluding “Male” and “Female”) on government forms and surveys, “it is illegal in New York City to harass an employee by intentionally and repeatedly misgendering them or ignoring repeated requests to use an individual’s preferred name or pronoun and has been for many years.”