New resource: a dictionary of terms commonly used in transgender and gender nonconforming communities
APA has a new set of guidelines for psychologists working with transgender and gender nonconforming people (TGNC). In an appendix to those guidelines, APA included a very useful index defining many of the terms used within the TGNC community. Terminology of this sort is rapidly evolving and it can be difficult to stay abreast of it all. The index APA included in its guidelines is a helpful resource as psychologists strive towards treating others in a respectful and culturally competent way. For example, the term “transgender” has rapidly become part of American lexicon, especially since Caitlyn Jenner told her story in Vanity Fair magazine earlier this summer. However, although I’m familiar with the term, I’ve never heard the term “cisgender” used in the popular media. The APA terminology index defines “cisgender” as “An adjective used to describe a person whose gender identity and gender expression align with sex assigned at birth; a person who is not TGNC.” Only using a term to describe one experience/group implies that those in that group are “not the norm”; you’re either transgender or you’re “normal.” By knowing and using terms like cisgender to describe people whose experience isn’t that of those in the TGNC community, we make a small but important statement affirming the equality of all experiences of gender identity. If you’re interested in updating your knowledge of terms commonly used in the TGNC community, go to the appendix of the APA document.
Author: Jenna LeJeune, Ph.D
Jenna is a clinical psychologist who specializes in working with people who struggle with relationship and intimacy difficulties and with those who have a trauma history. Her research focuses on developing compassion-based interventions targeting stigma, shame, and chronic self-criticism.