Terminology is full of misleading and in-part, disrespectful language on the topic relating to trans identity. The following definitions help to use appropriate language when dealing with trans people.

cis Person

A cis individual’s identity corresponds to the sex assigned at their birth. The term is used to differentiate itself from the term trans person. This represents the majority of the population.


Refers to the process by which a person shares his or her gender identity and/or sexual orientation. This process is an emotional challenge for those involved, as it is often unforeseeable how those around them will respond. Hence, this is why it is important to support trans people in the coming-out as best as possible.


An individual who, irrespective of the motive, dresses at times in such a way that it is perceived in a gender form in which they do not, and do not intend to live in permanently. Wearing of gender specific clothing does not tell you whether a person is trans. The motivations range from the expression of personal imitated to criticism of gender stereotypes to the expression of gender identity. This temporary representation is not sexually motivated in the majority of cases. Obsolete term for this: Transvestite


A person’s sex is said to consist of three dimensions: the body, the gender identity and their gender expression.

Gender includes the classification of people in (mostly) male or female, physical characteristics such as chromosomes, hormones, internal and external sex traits, reproductive organs, secondary sex traits, and gender identity. Last is the deep inner knowledge of one’s own gender. The sexual expression refers to the external manifestations of a person (e.g. clothing, haircut, language, gait, etc.) The society divides these into male and female, although the sexual expression can change over time and from culture to culture.

Gender Identity

Gender identity is the deeply felt inner and personal sense of belonging to a gender that coincides or does not coincide with the gender that the person concerned was assigned at their birth. Gender identity includes the perception of one’s own body as well as other forms of expression of gender, for example through clothing, language and behaviours. In the case of trans persons, the gender identity does not correspond to the gender assigned to them at birth.

Non-Binary (Genderqueer)

If people do not see themselves or only partially identify themselves in the categories of male or female this is referred to as ‘non-binary’ or ‘gender non-conforming’. The terms summarize different forms and identities, for example, “gender fluid” (the gender perception is flowing and changing again and again), “agender” (someone who feels that they don’t have any gender), “bigender” (someone identifies with two genders) etc.

Sexual Orientation

An individual’s sexual orientation identifies a person’s alignment with feeling emotionally and sexually attracted to persons of the same or a different sex, or indeed, more than one sex and to lead undertake emotional and sexual relations with those that they are attracted to (Yogyakarta principles). Sexual orientation is not to be confused with gender identity.

Trans Woman

Person who was identified as male at birth due to their body representation yet holds their identity to that of a female.


Generic term for all people whose gender identity (in part) does not correspond to the gender associated with their public image. It includes trans women, trans men, crossdressers as well as people for whom the binary models of female or male as a gender identity does not work.


Describes the process of socially, physically, and/or legally adapting to the gender to which an individual identifies.

Trans Man

Person who was identified as female at birth due to their body representation yet holds their identity to that of a male.


Rejection or perceived aversion to those who identify and represent as transgender. Transphobia can show itself in particular as verbal or physical violence.

Transsexual / Transsexualism

These are misleading and outdated terms as they refer to sexual orientation and not gender identity. They are increasingly being replaced by the terms”trans person”, “trans woman” or “trans tan” or, in the medical context by “gender-incongruity ” or “gender-dysphoria “.