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Gender Definitions Masterlist, Forum Ettiquette, and FAQ

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Hello everyone and welcome to AVEN's Gender Discussions forum! I have compiled here my best attempt at a master-list of genders, etiquette, and frequently asked questions. It's not perfect, but it never will be, so please remember that labels are about expressing oneself; they should always be used descriptively, and not prescriptively.


Firstly, thank you to everyone who did give feedback. I tried to incorporate as much of it as I could, and I really appreciate the overwhelming community support for this project. If you gave feedback and don't see the changes here, please accept my apologies! It's possible I couldn't think of how to do it, it's possible I misinterpreted what you said, but I tried my best.


Please note that I am going to leave this thread locked. I want to encourage anyone to start a new thread to discuss definitions, ask for advice, or just to interact with us here in the Gender forum. I also acknowledge that language evolves over time, so please feel free to add new definitions by starting a thread if you see a lack. If you see anything problematic about these first two posts (for example, if I said something in a manner as to exclude someone from an identity they use) then please PM me so I can consider how to correct it. I am not and never will pretend to be perfect.


So. Without further ado, I present to you good folks, an incomplete master list of genders:



Gender: Though gender is often described as what one "feels like inside", this is not referring to an emotion. Rather, the word feel is used to denote a kind of sense; one feels like a gender much the same way that one may feel like a sexual orientation. Sometimes gender is the sex that one feels like one should be. Sometimes it is referred to as the non-physical identity. The definition of gender is hard to write down, and you'll find that there is a lot of debate on how to actually define such a concept as gender. This may have nothing to do with one's physical sex or one's gender presentation, though sometimes these things are correlated.


Man or Boy: Identifying as a man or boy as per traditional societal definitions of that term in the individual person's culture.


Woman or Girl: Identifying as a woman or girl as per traditional societal definitions of that term in the individual person's culture.


Genderqueer or Non-Binary: An umbrella term for anyone who does not identify as a binary gender (ie man or woman).


Bigender: 1) Identifying as both a man and a woman, or a boy and girl. This may be simultaneous, or "flip" between one and the other, but does not express on a spectrum (for example, a bigender person usually does not experience androgynous or neutrois gender between man and woman).

2) Identifying as any two genders, but only two. For example, identifying as a demiboy and woman, or neutrois and man. This may be simultaneous or by "flipping" between the two.


Androgyne: 1) Identifying as a combination of man and woman or feminine and masculine. This does not have to be exactly half and half, but can be any combination. However, a person identifying as androgyne typically does not experience fluctuations between man and woman, but is rather both at the same time.

2) Identifying somewhere between masculine and feminine.


Transmasculine: A person who identifies as masculine but not a man.


Transfeminine: A person who identifies as feminine but not a woman.


Pangender: Identifying as all genders within the person's cultural context. This may be identifying as all genders simultaneously or alternating between them. In the later case, sometimes the person identifies as genderfluid, see below.


Genderfluid: Identifying as more than one gender, in a way such that one "flows" between genders, or experiences a change in gender in some way. A fluctuating or shifting gender. This may be between all genders or any subset of genders. It is often different from bigender in that a genderfluid individual may experience slow gradual changes as well as abrupt flips, whereas bigender people tend to only experience "all or nothing" flips, and no "in-between" period.


Neutrois or Third Gender: 1) Experiencing a gender that is neither man nor woman, nor a combination of the two. Rather, neutrois people often describe it as a "third" gender completely, or a "neutral" gender. However, this is a gender, and is not to be confused with genderless or agender (below).

2) Sometimes used synonymously with agender, though not usually on AVEN.


Maverique: A term coined by Queer As Cat as discussed by them here, to distinguish from the second definition of neutrois, above. Maverique is a gender that is characterized by an inner conviction in one's gender, and a complete independence from male/masculinity, female/femininity, or anything that derives from them including neutrality.


Genderless or Agender: A state of not identifying with any gender; a person with no conscious gender identity. Such an individual may or may not experience dysphoria about their body, or a desire to transition or express their gender in a non-binary way.


Demigirl: 1. Someone who feels but the barest association with being a woman or girl, but not a significant enough association to identify as a woman or girl. The association with the female gender is not strong enough to identify as female, but the dissociation is not strong enough to create physical discomfort or dysphoria if referred to as female rather than genderqueer, neutral or male.
2. someone who is feminine or transfeminine but not wholly binary-identified, so that they feel more strongly associated with "female" than "male" or "non-binary," socially or physically, but not strongly enough to justify an absolute self-identification as "woman."

Demiguy: 1. Someone who feels but the barest association with being a man or boy, but not a significant enough association to identify as a man or boy. The association with the male gender is not strong enough to identify as male, but the dissociation is not strong enough to create physical discomfort or dysphoria if referred to as male rather than genderqueer, neutral or female.
2. someone who is masculine or transmasculine but not wholly binary-identified, so that they feel more strongly associated with "male" than "female" or "non-binary," socially or physically, but not strongly enough to justify an absolute self-identification as "man."

Demigender: The state of feeling loosely attached to a gender (any specific gender, or gender as a generality), but not attached enough to identify as having a gender. A demigender person may feel some association with a gender, but not enough to fully identify as that gender. They may also feel some association with a gender-less identification.

Cis-genderless: The state of being in which one identifies as what they were assigned at birth (usually male or female, though sometimes intersex) without having feelings or concepts pertaining to gender. A genderless individual with no dysphoria.


Genderweird: A term used to describe those whose gender cannot be described by any existing label, or cannot be pinned down as such.


Sex: Though this typically refers to sex characteristics of a person, such as having a penis or vagina, these things are not always binary. While some babies have a clear penis or vagina, there is a lot of variation, and some babies are born with genitalia that are ambiguous. Also, a person's sexual characteristics may change over the course of their lives for various reasons, including surgeries and hormone therapies. As such, one's "sex" is not a clear concept. The below terms focus on what doctors assigned a person when they were born (the sex on their birth certificate) rather than physical characteristics.

Like everything to do with humans, sex is probably much more complicated than anyone can even know.

AFAB, FAAB, DFAB: An acronym for "Assigned Female At Birth", "Female Assigned At Birth" and "Designated Female At Birth" respectively, referencing the sex that the doctor assigned at birth.

AMAB, MAAB, DMAB: An acronym for "Assigned Male At Birth", "Male Assigned At Birth" and "Designated Male At Birth" respectively, referencing the sex that the doctor assigned at birth.

Intersex: Intersex is when an individual has some variation in their sex characteristics, for example genitalia or chromosomes, from what is traditionally defined as female or male. Some intersex variations are found at birth, others don't appear until later in life, and some are never found until after the person has passed away.
Note: Hermaphrodite, as a term, has a history of being used in a discriminatory manner. Strictly speaking, hermaphrodite means having the reproductive system of both a male and female; while this happens in very rare cases in humans, most intersex people are not in fact hermaphrodites. Please avoid labelling people as such unless they themselves use the term to refer to themselves.

Difference of Sex Development (DSD): A term that some communities prefer over intersex. The definition remains the same.


Transitioned: A person who has undergone surgery and/or taken hormones and/or changed their appearance in some way to make their body resemble a sex other than their birth sex. This may mean transitioning to a male body, a female body, or a non-binary body. Sometimes, one may transition to a neutral body in which the goal is to have no sex characteristics, or an androgynous body in which one has characteristics from both male and female sexes. There is no one way to transition, and it can be an intensely personal journey.


Gender Expression: Gender expression refers to how one presents oneself in terms of gender and/or sex to the world via clothing, mannerisms, etc. This can have no correlation whatsoever to one's gender or sex, or can be a powerful tool of self-expression of gender. The above terms may be mixed in any combination with the ones below. One does not have to have a consistent gender expression; this may change as often as one cares to.

Masculine: Dressing and presenting in a typically manly manner in the relevant culture. This may include, but is not limited to, wearing suits and ties to formal events, using men's washrooms, and participating in male-only events (such as a "boy's night out").

Feminine: Dressing and presenting in a typically womanly manner in the relevant culture. This may include, but is not limited to, wearing dresses and make up to formal events, using women's washrooms, and participating in women-only events (such as a "girl's movie night").

Androgynous: A gender expression whose goal is to appear both manly and womanly in equal measure. There are as many ways to do this as there are people, but some examples include: appearing to have both breasts and a bulge at the crotch, wearing clothing that leaves the body shape and/or sex of a person ambiguous, or mixing jewellery with a suit and tie, or a dress with a masculine hair cut and/or beard.

Neutral: A gender expression whose goal is to appear neither manly nor womanly. The goal is to suppress all sex characteristics. This may include but is not limited to: wearing a binder to hide the appearance of having breasts, or compression underwear or tucking to hide the appearance of having a penis; using gender-neutral washrooms or avoiding public washrooms completely; using neutral pronouns.


Genderfuck: A gender presentation/expression with very gendered elements coming from both masculine and feminine gender presentation/expression in a goal to subvert gender.



Other Terms:

Gender Binary: An outdated model of gender based on sex, which assumes people can all be grouped into male or female based on what they were assigned at birth (which is, in turn, usually based only on the appearance of their genitals at birth).
Binary's Bitch: A state of being in which the individual is ambivalent about their relationship with the binary. On the one hand, they feel restricted and confined by its limits, but on the other find it inescapable. In some respects it is the opposite of agender; rather than having no gender, the Binary’s Bitch has far too much gender going on for their own comfort. A specific subset of androgyne.
Cisgender: A person whose gender matches the sex that they were assigned at birth.
Transsexual: 1. a person who is/will/would transition/ing from one sex to another; 2. Someone who is medically transitioning, usually within the biological sex binary, although some intersexed people will transition to a binary biological sex, and some people will transition to non binary genders, such as neutrois.
Transgender: 1. umbrella term for a person whose gender and sex do not match up; 2. specifically an MtF (male to female), FtM (female to male), FtN (female to neutral), or MtN (male to neutral) transgender person; 3. MtF or FtM who lives openly but without any surgical transition (as opposed to transsexual)
-Trans: originally a shortened form of "transgender," sometimes used as an umbrella term for all non-cisgender people
-Transyada: 1. (loosely) a person who identifies outside the gender binary (i.e., not strictly as male or female); 2. Those which don't fit into the gender binary, and who hang out in the 'transwhatever' thread or their own Yada Forum.
-Transman/FtM: a person born female who identifies as male
-Transwoman/MtF: a person born male who identifies as female
Transition: 1. for a trans person of any gender to come out and live openly according to their gender; 2. when one undergoes surgery/ies and/or hormone therapies to make one's body better conform to one's gender, including but not limited to sex reassignment surgery (SRS)
Igender: Inspired by the concept of igtheism, igender refers to a sense of some degree of uncertainty about the definition of gender. One may identify as igender if one believes that the concept or definition of gender is too unclear in order to be able to identify as any gender.


These are the definitions that we, as a community, have come up with to help with your time here. They are not necessarily perfect, and if you have a problem understanding, then please feel free to say so! We're always happy to help.

Links: The old master definitions thread, the preliminary consultation for suggestions, and a second thread for consultations.

Edited by Heart
Updating all the things!
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Gender Etiquette, Pronouns, and FAQ




I don't know what pronouns to use for someone. What do I do?


If you can, why not just ask them? It's not rude. And while you're at it, feel free to tell them your pronouns :) Remember, you can also check the extra information under their avatar to see if they list their pronouns. And if you can't ask and don't know, then it is considered good practice on AVEN to use "they/them/theirs" pronouns when a person's pronouns are unknown.


I was always taught that they/them/theirs is plural. What if I don't want to use it to refer to a single person?


Fun historic fact: "you" used to be only for use in the plural too. Back in Victorian English, if you were talking to a single person, you referred to them using "thou", not "you". Over time, "you" evolved in the English language to be both singular and plural. The same thing has started happening with "they" a long time ago (like, 1759, or arguably even earlier). Think about it: when you talk about an imaginary person whose gender isn't specified, you probably use they pronouns even though it's one person. For example, President George Bush said, in his 1991 State of the Union Address, "If anyone tells you that America's best days are behind her, then they're looking the wrong way [my emphasis]."


So, in short, using they for a singular person has a few centuries' worth of precedent; it's fine grammatically.


It is, however, worth noting that a lot of the push-back against using they as a singular pronoun has come from people who object to the idea that someone can be referred to by pronouns other than the ones that match their gender assigned at birth. If you feel comfortable with a statement such as "If anybody calls, take their name and ask them to call again later" but don't feel comfortable with a person who asks specifically to be called by they/them/theirs pronouns, then it is worth asking yourself why.


I'm still uncomfortable referring to someone by they pronouns, and/or by any pronouns other than he or she.


Ok, but you can't refer to people by he or she pronouns unless they give you permission. We encourage you to do your best to use the pronouns they ask for, but if you really can't, then a last course of action can be to use no pronouns at all. For example, if I am talking to MemberX who has told me that they use they/them/theirs pronouns. I can say:

"I like MemberX, they are a great person!"

"I like MemberX, MemberX is a great person!"

But I cannot say:

"I like MemberX, she is a great person!"


Someone told me to use a set of pronouns I don't know how to use. Help!


Wikipedia to the rescue! That link has a very exhaustive table of pronouns and examples. Also, I found this handy, smaller, table in case it's helpful:



Having said that, pronouns are constantly evolving. It may be that someone one day uses one that is not on those tables. If you're not sure, just ask them or a staff member. We'll try to help you out :)


I'm really anxious that I might forget or screw up someone's pronouns :(


I get it. We all make mistakes, and it sucks. I've made some pretty inconvenient mistakes myself in the past. But honest mistakes are honest mistakes; apologize and move on. We don't tend to use disciplinary action against someone for using the wrong pronouns if it is clearly a mistake.


Having said that, I've found a few things to be very helpful in helping me remember and use the right pronouns. The most helpful thing for me is to tell stories about a person. So if MemberY tells me that she is now using she pronouns, but I'm used to using he pronouns with MemberY, then it might be difficult for me to change my habits. In that case, I sometimes tell myself stories about MemberY in order to practice the right pronouns until it feels more natural. Another option, since we are on AVEN, is to look just below a member's avatar picture, to the left of their post, and see if they have listed their pronouns. And remember, if in doubt or if you've completely forgotten, you can default to "they".


Someone keeps using the wrong pronouns for me. What do I do?


The first thing to do is to correct them as nicely as you can. If you find yourself doing that more than a couple times, then ask yourself if this person maybe needs some help remembering. At this point, you can either offer help yourself or ask them to talk to a member of staff about getting some help. Remember, it doesn't have to be your job to educate people on tips and tricks to remember pronouns. It's kind of you if you try to help, but you're not obliged.


If, however, you think it may be malicious, then we encourage you to report this user. Purposefully and/or maliciously using the wrong pronouns for another member is against the terms of service.





What pronouns do I use for someone who is transgender and has transitioned when I talk about them before they transitioned?


Some people's first instinct is to use the pronouns they were using before the transition, but this is actually considered rather bad to do. Not only can it "out" them to people around who may not have known that they are trans, but it can be really triggering and/or cause a lot of gender dysphoria. It is best practice to use their current pronouns, no matter what time in the past you are referring to them at.


For example, suppose MemberZ is a trans man, and has transitioned to live his authentic life. He has told me to refer to him using he/him/his pronouns. Maybe I want to talk about him back when he was presenting as a woman, so I can say:

"Back in 2009, he was a great figure skater!"

But not:

"Back in 2009, she was a great figure skater!"

And especially not:

"Back in 2009, when he was a woman, she was a great figure skater!"


In short: try not to refer to a transition at all unless it's necessary. And if it's necessary, then make absolutely sure that this is a context in which they are comfortable being openly trans. If in doubt, don't refer to a transition; you can ask them later in private if it's ok to refer to a transition and when it's ok to do that. And if you do refer to a trans person's transition, then it is best practice to refer to them as their current pronouns no matter when you are talking about them. The idea behind this is that this person has always been the gender they say they are; they may just not have told the rest of the world yet, or may not have been presenting that way before their transition.



What is deadnaming, and when is it ok?


Deadnaming is when someone refers to a person by an old name, usually the name they were given at birth by their parents. For a trans person who has a chosen name that matches their identity, being referred to by their "deadname", or the old name (usually from a birth certificate), can be very triggering. It can remind them of painful memories. Not all trans people feel this way about their deadnames, but it is always good practice to try your best not to use them. In addition, like the question above about pronouns, using someone's deadname can reveal that they are trans to people who may not have known already, and depending on the situation this can come with a host of safety issues on top of the emotional ones.


A good rule of thumb is to avoid using a person's old name no matter what. They have probably changed it for a reason, so we always try to use their chosen name, which is the current name that they choose to go by. For short, we simply call this their name.


What is deadgendering, and when is it ok?


Deadgendering is to gender what deadnaming is to names; it's referring to a person's old gender label (usually, the gender assigned at birth: man or woman). So, if someone was assigned male at birth and is now identifying as a woman, then referring to their old gender of man is deadgendering (for example, "Back when you were a man, you were much less happy!"). It can be problematic for all the same reasons, and should be approached with the same attitude as deadnaming. In short, don't do it.


How do I know I've found the right gender?


There's no definite way to know for sure, much like it can be hard to even define gender. Many people will describe the feeling of finding the correct gender label as "fitting like a second skin" or "fitting like a glove". That's how it felt to me too; at one point in my life, the word "cis woman" no longer felt right. After some exploration (and many months of confusion) I realized that the best word to describe my experiences was "genderfluid". Some people come across their gender much quicker or much slower; we all have our own pace. And sometimes, we find "intermediate" steps, where a label feels "good enough" for now until a better one comes along. Or, sometimes, a label is just good enough and we move on with our lives. All of these are valid ways of experiencing a gender journey, and everyone's gender journey will be unique to them.


Additional "clues" that I had found the right gender for me include a feeling of kinship; when I read posts from other genderfluid people describing their experiences and feelings, I had "aha" moments where I thought "me too!" I still feel a kinship with other genderfluid people, in the same way I feel kinship with other Canadians; I may not ever have met this other person, but if they are genderfluid or Canadian, then I know that I likely share some kind of experience with them, be it about gender or nationality respectively.


Some people never find a label that feels like a fit, and that's ok too. Not everyone needs a label. And it's important to remember that all labels are valid, even if they become less of a fit later and change, or if they only feel partially right or "close enough". Labels should always be treated like a tool; they are descriptive but should not be prescriptive or limiting. They are useful tools for quickly communicating basic (or not so basic) concepts, but they do not embody the entirety of a human being's experience.


I feel like hijra / two spirit / intergender / autigender describes my gender perfectly, but I'm not Indian / of First Nation decent / intersex / on the autistic spectrum. What do I do?


There are some genders that are situated in a specific culture, community and/or context. We encourage you to respect that. So, if you do not have Indian heritage, we encourage you not to use hijra to describe yourself. Likewise, if you do not have First Nations or Inuit heritage, then we encourage you not to identify as two spirit. And, if you do not have an intersex condition, we encourage you not to identify as intergender. Likewise, please do not identify as autigender if you are not on the autism spectrum.


There are, however, lots of other gender identities out there that express something that may feel like more of a fit for you. Please check out the above list of genders (in particular, sometimes genders like androgyne, maverick, and neutrois are ones that people find useful in this context), and if you can't find something that fits then ask the forum! We're generally a very helpful bunch, and we'd all be happy to try and help you find an identity that fits like a second skin.


How do I avoid overwhelming newcomers? AKA a quick set of suggestions on how to welcome newcomers.


Firstly, thank you for welcoming them! This takes time and energy, but it's part of what makes our community so awesome. Here are a few quick common mistakes when welcoming a newcomer:

  • Too many labels! If someone introduces themselves and asks for help figuring out their gender, try giving them one or two, or at most three, suggestions for possible labels. If a newcomer is showered with five or ten possible labels, it can be really intimidating! If none of the two or three that you suggested seems right, they will let us know and we can think of two or three more suggestions based on why they said the others don't work. For example, if someone comes on to the forum and they express an experience that I might label as androgyne or neutrois, I can suggest those two. But if they say "no, those two don't feel quite right; I'm more on the masculine end," then I can refine my suggestions and suggest they check out trans-masculine or demiboy.
  • Give definitions when you suggest a label. If you can't give a simple definition, you can also provide a link, but try not to make them google it themselves. They came here for help, let's try to be as helpful as we can be and provide definitions and resources when possible. Feel free to copy/paste the definition from above if you like, or to link them to the post above and give them a suggestion of which term to look up. But try not to just list terms without context or definitions.
  • If you don't know what to suggest, then sometimes simply saying hi is good too! Be welcoming, and if you think of a member who might be able to better advise this newcomer, then try shooting that member a PM to suggest they poke their head into that thread and share their experiences.
Edited by Heart
*fights off spelling errors with a stick* Begone! And now updated too :)
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