What Does Trans Mean?
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Young trans people working at a table

What does trans mean?

Trans is an umbrella term to describe people whose gender is not the same as, or does not sit comfortably with, the sex they were assigned at birth.

Trans people may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms, including (but not limited to) transgender, cross dresser, non-binary, gender queer.

It is important to remember:

  • Trans identities are diverse. Trans young people may identify in lots of different ways.
  • Not everyone identifies as ‘male’ or ‘female’. Sometimes, people assume that being trans is about feeling you are the ‘opposite’ gender. This is true for some trans people, but not for others. This assumption makes things difficult for those who identify outside of ‘male’ or ‘female’, for example non-binary young people. A non-binary young person may need some different things to feel comfortable to, for example, a trans young person who identifies as ‘male’.
  • Not every trans young person will want to transition but may still like, or benefit from, ongoing support of some kind.
  • Language is important. School and college staff sometimes worry about using the correct language when talking about gender identity and are often concerned about ‘getting it wrong’. Our glossary includes a list of common terms and can be used to build staff confidence around trans terminology. A young person may change the term they use to describe their identity, or use a new term which is unfamiliar to staff. It’s important to make sure that the words a young person uses to describe their identity are respected by others.

Return to supporting trans young people: guidance for schools and colleges