Here are some terms that are frequently used to describe trans children and adolescents. Terminology around gender diversity is constantly evolving and varies in different countries as well as changing over time. Some older members of the trans and gender diverse community use terms that are no longer commonly used among younger trans people. It’s important to respect the personal preferences of any individual and this will make your interaction and communication a more positive experience.

These definitions are from the Royal Children’s Hospital Australian Standards of Care and Treatment Guidelines for Trans and Gender Diverse Children and Adolescents and used here with permission.

You can also read more from Transgender Victoria and the Victorian Government Inclusive Language Guide.

Gender Identity

A person’s innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend of both or neither. One’s gender identity can be the same or different from their sex assigned at birth.

Gender Expression

The external presentation of one’s gender as expressed through one’s name, clothing, behaviour, hairstyle or voice, and which may or may not conform to socially defined behaviours and characteristics typically being associated with being either masculine or feminine.

Gender Diverse

A term to describe people who do not conform to their society or culture’s expectations for males and females. Being transgender is one way of being gender diverse, but not all gender diverse people are transgender.

Assigned male at birth

A person who was thought to be male when born and initially raised as a boy.

Assigned female at birth

A person who was thought to be female when born and initially raised as a girl.

Trans or transgender

A term for someone whose gender identity is not congruent with their sex assigned at birth.

Cisgender

A term for someone whose gender identity aligns with their sex assigned at birth.

Trans boy/male/man

A term to describe someone who was assigned female at birth who identifies as a boy/male/man.

Trans girl/female/woman

A term to describe someone who was assigned male at birth who identifies as a girl/female/woman.

Non-binary

A term to describe someone who doesn’t identity exclusively as male or female.

Gender fluid

A person whose gender identity varies over time.

Agender

A term to describe someone who does not identify with any gender.

Brotherboy and Sistergirl

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people may use these terms in a number of different contexts, however they can be used to refer to trans and gender diverse people. Brotherboy typically refers to masculine spirited people who were assigned female at birth. Sistergirl typically refers to feminine spirited people who were assigned male at birth.

Gender Dysphoria

A term that describes the distress experienced by a person due to incongruence between their gender identity and their sex assigned at birth.

Social transition

The process by which a person changes their gender expression to better match their gender identity.

Medical transition

The process by which a person changes their physical sex characteristics via hormonal intervention and/or surgery to more closely align with their gender identity.

Please note: surgical interventions for Australians under the age of 18 are not legal without court orders being sought.