The word ‘trans’ is often used as an umbrella term to describe people who feel their gender is, or has been, different from the one they were labelled with at birth (in more recent times even before their birth).

‘Trans’ describes someone’s gender identity rather than their sexuality.

How do you know?

You may have felt like you are not the ‘right’ gender from a very young age. Or your feelings may have come up when you started going through puberty or even later on in life. If you have any concerns about your gender identity there are people who can support and advise you – see ‘Meeting other people’.


Some people assume that all trans people are ‘born in the wrong body’ and want to change their gender with surgery. This is not necessarily the case, although it may be true for some trans people.

All the same?

Everyone is an individual, and not all trans people feel exactly the same. Below are explanations of a few of the most common terms trans people use:

Transman – someone who is labelled female at birth but who has an internal sense of gender which is male.

Trans woman – someone who is labelled male at birth but who has an internal sense of gender which is female.

Transsexual – someone who usually feels that their gender identity does not match their appearance or the gender they were labelled with at birth. They may present to the world as the gender they truly are and many transsexuals will undergo hormone therapy and ‘gender confirmation surgery’.

Bi-gender – someone who sees themselves as both masculine and feminine.

Cross-dressers – are usually comfortable with the gender they were assigned at birth but enjoy wearing clothes usually identified with the opposite sex.

Gender non-conforming – someone who expresses their gender differently from society’s expectations of the sex they were assigned at birth.

Gender queer – someone who identifies as being between genders, or as neither man nor woman.


Unfortunately trans people sometimes experience prejudice – this is called transphobia and, apart from making people feel worried and vulnerable, it is illegal. If you need help because of transphobia find out more.


If you have recently started questioning your gender identity, you may be feeling confused and lost and need someone to talk to. The following organisations can help:

Gender Intelligence

Gendered Intelligence work with young trans people.


Mermaids provide family and individual support for teenagers and children with gender identity issues.


THT Direct

You can also talk to somebody at THT Direct about any aspect of sex and sexuality. We can put you in touch with face-to-face support if you need it as well.

Page content supplied by Copyright 2012 © Terrence Higgins Trust.

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