Defining Transgender for the
Medical Community

One struggle for the transgender community has been the gap in understanding between the transgender experience and the medical community at large. Transgender patients are often confronted with incorrect pronouns, terminology, and a general lack of understanding around their preferences, options, and expectations when discussing medical and surgical options with medical professionals.

What does ‘Transgender’ mean?

The American Medical Student Association defines “Transgender” as

An umbrella term for a diverse group of people—such as trans women (male-to-female) and trans men (female-to-male), genderqueer individuals, and many others—whose gender identity or expression differs from societal expectations of how they should look, act, or identify based on the sex they were assigned at birth.

Dr. Brandy Panunti, an endocrinologist with Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans, Louisiana explains: “People who are transgender have determined or recognized along the way that the gender they were assigned at birth, which was appropriate at the time, is not how they identify now.”

Gender Incongruence

Gender Incongruence is a term supported by members of the medical community to label the physical and psychological distress that accompanies a disconnect between one’s assigned sex and gender and one’s gender identity.

Gender Dysphoria

Gender Dysphoria (GD), also known as Gender Identity Disorder, is the psychological condition of emotional and social discomfort accompanying GenderIncongruence.

Talking about medical procedures in Transgender care

Gender Affirming Surgery, also known as transgender surgery, gender affirming surgery, (GRS), MTF (transfeminine) surgery, or FTM (transmasculine) surgery, is a suite of elective plastic surgery procedures that transgender patients may choose in order to more closely align one’s physical body to one’s gender identity. Presently, only the minority of transgender people undergo genital surgery due to complexity and cost.

The following terms were at some point used to describe Gender Affirming Surgery, but are falling out of use or no longer used due to being outdated or inaccurate: “Gender reassignment surgery” or “gender realignment surgery” is no longer used as gender is a matter of identity and cannot be assigned or aligned by way of surgery); “Gender confirmation surgery” or “Gender confirming surgery” as physical characteristics such as genitalia do not confirm one’s gender; “Sex change operation” and “sex reassignment” or “sex realignment surgery,” as these terms imply that a transition can be completed within the scope of a single operation.