In the area of gender and healthcare, please know that terminology is changing daily and there is no way to be up on all the latest terms all the time. You can only do the best you can to attempt to stay connected to the community and respond to terminology changes and additions long the way.
If you aren’t familiar with the genderbread person, you can visit the website for a lot more thorough information, but the diagram is above. Overly simplified, it is a creative way of helping explain that gender identity exists in the brain/mind of each person and has nothing to do with genitalia or hormones. Your sexual orientation (who you’re attracted to sexually) is also a completely separate thing. Please visit the website for a much more thorough overview: www.genderbread.org
There is so much terminology that I couldn’t possibly cover it all here in this one blog. It would go on forever. What I can do is provide a few good resources for you to link to for an overview of basic terms that may be useful when working with transgender and gender queer individuals.
Lastly, it is important to know and understand defamatory language and terms, in order not to use them. It’s imperative to avoid using this language…period (and especially when speaking with or about transgender individuals). You can also help educate others when they may use defamatory terminology. These terms can be found on the GLAAD website, as well.
In the next and last blog post of this series, we will cover more about respectful communication and culturally competent healthcare.
Kimberly Atwood is a licensed psychotherapist and certified sex therapist working in private practice in Princeton, NJ. She also provides online therapy with clients living in Indiana, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. She specializes in sexual health, intimacy and relationship issues. For more information, please check out her website.