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Author’s Note: How Gender Reassignment Works

The terminology surrounding gender identity, expression and affirmation has changed a lot since I first wrote about gender dysphoria, then called gender identity disorder, and the ins and outs of, what was then called gender reassignment surgery. The first thing I noticed 8 years later is that there is a lot more labeling. For instance: A biologically born man who identifies as a woman may be known as an 'affirmed' or 'confirmed' woman, 'transgender' woman, or you may also hear the term 'trans woman' — all in reference to the same woman. For some, 'transsexual' continues to be used. And then there's also the acronyms, such as MTF (or M2F), which stands for male-to-female, and AMAB (or DMAB), indicating 'assigned male at birth' (and 'designated male at birth'). I'm sure I'm overlooking some, too. And it's a similar list for someone assigned female at birth who identifies as a man (AFAB). What seems to be left out, though is the most obvious: male and female, just as those who are cisgender (a term used for non-trans people). (Unless, of course, we're talking about a person whose identity lies somewhere along a spectrum of gender, who may prefer to describe themselves as neither male nor female, but gender fluid.)

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