Evolution of transgender terminology
Psychiatrist John F. Oliven of Columbia University coined the term transgender in his 1965 reference work Sexual Hygiene and Pathology, writing that the term which had previously been used, transsexualism, "is misleading; actually, 'transgenderism' is meant, because sexuality is not a major factor in primary transvestism." The term transgender was then popularized with varying definitions by various transgender, transsexual, and transvestite people, including Virginia Prince, who used it in the December 1969 issue of Transvestia, a national magazine for cross dressers she founded. By the mid-1970s both trans-gender and trans people were in use as umbrella terms,[note 1] and transgenderist was used to refer to people who wanted to live cross-gender without sex reassignment surgery (SRS). By 1976, transgenderist was abbreviated as TG in educational materials.
By 1984, the concept of a "transgender community" had developed, in which transgender was used as an umbrella term. In 1985, Richard Elkins established the "Trans-Gender Archive" at the University of Ulster. By 1992, the International Conference on Transgender Law and Employment Policy defined transgender as an expansive umbrella term including "transsexuals, transgenderists, cross dressers", and anyone transitioning. Leslie Feinberg's pamphlet, "Transgender Liberation: A Movement Whose Time has Come", circulated in 1992, identified transgender as a term to unify all forms of gender nonconformity; in this way transgender has become synonymous with queer.
Between the mid-1990s and the early 2000s, the primary terms used under the transgender umbrella were "female to male" (FtM) for men who transitioned from female to male, and "male to female" (MtF) for women who transitioned from male to female. These terms have now been superseded by "trans man" and "trans woman", respectively, and the terms "trans-masculine" or "trans-feminine" are increasingly in use. This shift in preference from terms highlighting biological sex ("transsexual", "FtM") to terms highlighting gender identity and expression ("transgender", "trans woman") reflects a broader shift in the understanding of transgender people's sense of self and the increasing recognition of those who decline medical reassignment as part of the transgender community.
Health-practitioner manuals, professional journalistic style guides, and LGBT advocacy groups advise the adoption by others of the name and pronouns identified by the person in question, including present references to the transgender person's past. Many also note that transgender should be used as an adjective, not a noun (for example, "Max is transgender" or "Max is a transgender man", not "Max is a transgender"), and that transgender should be used, not transgendered.
In contrast, people whose sense of personal identity corresponds to the sex and gender assigned to them at birth – that is, those who are neither transgender nor non-binary or genderqueer – are called cisgender.