These gender health terms don't cover everything. But they should give you a basic understanding of the services we offer to the LGBTQ+ community.
LGBTQ – Stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer. Common acronym for a group of sexual orientation and gender identities that fall outside dominant norms. Does not represent all identities. Many variations exist to include categories like questioning, intersex, asexual, allies (LGBTQIA, LGBTQ+, LGBTQIAA).
Gender Identity Terms
Gender identity – a person’s inner sense of their gender.
Sex assigned at birth – the sex marker on a person’s original birth certificate, usually selected based on external genitalia.
Cisgender – gender identity that matches sex assigned at birth.
Transgender – gender identity that differs from sex assigned at birth.
Nonbinary – a gender identity not solidly female or male. Some people experience gender that shifts over time or integrates a variety of feminine and male qualities. Related terms: genderfluid, genderqueer.
Sexual Orientation Terms
Sexual orientation – how a person characterizes their romantic, emotional, and sexual attraction to others.
Gay – a person who is romantically, emotionally, and/or sexually attracted to people of their own gender. Can be used regardless of gender identity, but is more commonly used to describe men.
Lesbian – a woman who is romantically, emotionally, and/or sexually attracted to other women.
Bisexual – a person who is romantically, emotionally, and/or sexually attracted to multiple genders.
Straight/heterosexual – describes women who are romantically, emotionally, and/or sexually attracted to men and men who are romantically, emotionally, and /or sexually attracted to women.
Pansexual – describes a person who is romantically, emotionally, and/or sexually attracted to people of all genders. Pansexual people may refer to themselves as gender-blind, asserting that gender and sex are not determining factors in their romantic or sexual attraction to others.
Asexual – describes low or absent interest in or desire for sexual activity, or the lack of sexual attraction to others.
Queer – a term used for both sexual orientation and gender identity that exists outside the dominant, conventional norms of sex, attraction, gender expression, and gender.
Intersex or Difference of Sexual Development (DSD) – describes people whose characteristics are not either all typically male or all typically female at birth. A person can have physical variations in:
- The presence of gonads (testes or ovaries)
- Hormone production and response
- Internal reproductive organs
- External sex characteristics or genitalia
- Secondary sex characteristics, like breasts, hair, hips
Gender Health Terms: Legal & Medical
Preferred names and pronouns – a name and/or pronouns used by an individual to affirm their gender identity.
Legal/administrative sex – the sex marker on a person’s legal identification, such as a passport, driver’s license, or other state-issued photo ID.
Gender dysphoria – the distress or discomfort associated with the discrepancy between a person's gender identity and their sex as assigned at birth. Shows up as difficulty in social, occupational, and other settings of a person's daily life.
The letter – most insurance carriers and doctors need a letter from a psychologist to move forward with gender-confirmation surgery. The letter must provide a diagnosis of gender dysphoria and recommend the patient for surgery.
Gender Expression & Modification Terms
Gender expression – how one communicates or displays gender to others within a given culture and time; this can occur in dress, physicality, posture, hair, cosmetics, and other external accessories associated with masculinity, femininity, and beyond.
Puberty blockers – giving these is like hitting the “pause button” on puberty, postponing the development of breasts, facial hair, and periods. The effects are not permanent. Puberty blockers can help ease the distress some teens feel with puberty changes, even preventing suicide.
Binders – flatten out breast tissue for a more masculine chest appearance. It can be a great way to reduce gender dysphoria for trans men, but it also carries some serious risks, including restriction of breathing and skin breakdown.
Tucking – the practice of hiding male genitalia, resulting in a smoother, more feminine appearance under clothes. The most common way this is done is to tuck the testicles up inside the inguinal canal, and then tape the penis to the perineum. Can cause a number of issues, from skin irritation and pain to urethral trauma and hernia.
Gender-Confirmation Surgery Terms
Organ inventory – to make sure a person gets the proper care and screenings they need, providers may screen for what organs are present in a person, regardless of external sex organs, sex characteristics, or gender identity.
Vulvovaginoplasty – creates a vaginal canal for penetrative intercourse.
Vaginoplasty/vulvoplasty – forms a shallow vagina (“dimple”) that can’t be penetrated.
- Neovagina – parts of penis form a new vagina
- Neurovascular neoclitoris – clitoris created using penis erectile tissue
- Labia – created with scrotum skin or scrotal skin grafting
Phalloplasty – creates a penis and urethra (to stand while urinating). We use tissue from your forearm or thigh. We do this in 2 stages.
Metoidioplasty – takes your existing genital tissue and makes it longer, turning it into a defined phallus. This needs only one surgery.
Oriechtomy – removes testicles.
Hysterectomy + Oopherectomy – removes uterus and ovaries.
Autologous breast reconstruction, or DIEP free flap – during mastectomy, or breast removal, we make sure not to move or hurt any existing muscle. Instead, we use tissue from your abdomen to shape your new chest.