Gendered Language Glossary

I will try to keep this page up to date with how I am using certain gendered terms throughout my writing, since different sub-sub-subcommunities use different words differently

Lesbian (and subcategories)

Anyone who identifies as a lesbian, is a lesbian

Unless otherwise specified, I only use “trans lesbian” to refer to AMAB lesbians. Nonbinary AFAB lesbians who identify as trans, are still trans, but because it’s common for TERFs to bait-and-switch by claiming to include “trans lesbians” when they really only mean the AFAB ones, for clarity I refer to AFAB nonbinary lesbians as “nonbinary lesbians”.

Male and Female Refer to Gender Identity

“Biological sex” doesn’t exist. Individual biological features exist, and different bodies have different features. But the way that we group certain clusters of characteristics into a binary of “male/female”, or even a ternary of “male/female/intersex”, is socially constructed. This becomes clear when we consider how biologists use “male” and “female” in other species, including plants, that do not exhibit sexual dimorphism. If “biological sex” were merely descriptive, we would say that bees have three sexes (queen, worker, and drone). Instead, male/female is a binary that humans have crudely imposed on the physical world based on our preconceived notions of gender roles.

This means that “female” cannot be separated from “woman”. If a “female body” is a woman’s body, then trans women’s bodies are necessarily female. That said, I recognize there is variation in how individual trans people relate to “male” and “female” for themselves. So rather than categorically say “trans women are female”, I will leave it at trans women who identify as female, are by definition female-bodied.

In Female Masculinity

(Note: trans femininity is not an example of female masculinity. Only trans women who identify as masculine, are masculine.)

Jack Halberstam is most famous for his 1998 book “Female Masculinity”. Apparently there are TERFs who have latched onto this, but they have presumably not actually read the book, because he is very clear about what he means by “male” vs. “female”:

While many female-to-male transsexuals (FTMs) live out their masculinity in deliberately ambiguous bodies, many others desire complete transitions from female to male (and these people I will call transsexual males or transsexual men).

“Female Masculinity”, p. 154

We can infer – and this is consistent with the rest of the book – that when Halberstam says “female”, he does not mean AFAB. He means people who identify as female. Trans men who identify as male are expressly not “female”. Trans terminology has clearly changed somewhat since 1998, and in some places he does refer to “genetically female” and the like. But unless otherwise specified, we should assume that “female” includes, at a minimum, people who were assigned male at birth, identify as female, and have undergone medical transition.