Hudson's FTM Resource Guide

FTM Basics: Terminology

This page contains definitions of a number of terms that are commonly used within FTM and transgender communities. These definitions are not meant to be the "last word" on any particular term or subject; rather, they are meant to help orient those who may be new to FTM issues. Please think of this page as one possible starting point toward knowledge and understanding of trans men's issues. Remember that each of us is different, and the best way to learn is to be inquisitive, respectful, and to keep an open mind.

bilateral mastectomy: see "double incision"

binding: The process of flattening one's breast tissue in order to create a male-appearing chest. The type of materials and methods used for binding will vary depending on the size of an individual's chest and the overall build of his body. Some trans men don't bind at all due to personal preference, comfort issues, or because they may have small chests. Some use different methods of layering clothing to help hide their chests. Some bind only on certain occasions; some bind all the time. To learn more about binding methods and store-bought binding products, click here.

bottom surgery: see "genital reconstruction surgery"

chest surgery, chest reconstruction surgery: Sometimes also referred to as "top surgery." Chest surgery is the most common surgical procedure sought by trans men. The goal of chest surgery is to create a contoured, male-looking chest. There are two basic procedures that are usually performed to accomplish this goal: 1. Double incision/Bilateral mastectomy, or 2. Keyhole/Peri-areolar incision (see individual entries for more detail).

There are a few other surgical variations used for chest reconstruction, including the "inverted T" incision, the "pie wedge" method, and other combinations of incisions that a surgeon may see as the best approach for the patient. To learn more about chest surgery procedures, click here.

cypionate: Short for testosterone cypionate. (Chemical Formula C27H40O3) Testosterone cypionate is one of the main injectable forms of testosterone prescribed to trans men in the United States. It is a slow-acting ester with a release time between 10 to 14 days. The name-brand of T-cypionate available in the United States is called "Depo-Testosterone," which is suspended in cottonseed oil. Testosterone cypionate is typically injected intramuscularly anywhere between once every week to once every three weeks. To learn more about cypionate, esters, and other types of testosterone, click here. See also "testosterone."

double incision: Also called "bilateral mastectomy." A type of chest surgery procedure that is effective for individuals with a medium to large amount of breast tissue. In this method, large incisions are made horizontally across each breast, usually below the nipple. The skin is then peeled back so that the mammary glands and fatty tissue can be removed with a scalpel. The muscles of the chest are not touched. Certain areas of harder-to-reach fatty tissue may also be removed via liposuction (such as areas near the armpits). Once the extraneous tissue has been removed, the excess chest skin is trimmed and the incisions closed, leaving two seams/scars just below the line of the pectoral muscles. Nipples are usually resized and grafted into place. To learn more about chest surgery options, click here. See also "chest surgery."

enanthate: Short for testosterone enanthate. (Chemical Formula C26H40O3) Testosterone enanthate is one of the main forms of testosterone prescribed to trans men in the United States. It is a slow-acting ester with a release time between 10 to 14 days. The name-brand of T-enanthate available in the United States is called "Delatestryl," which is suspended in sesame oil. Testosterone enanthate is typically injected intramuscularly anywhere between once every week to once every three weeks. To learn more about enanthate, esters, and different types of prescribed testosterone, click here. See also "testosterone."

ester: A name for a chemical compound that is formed from reaction between a carboxylic acid and an alcohol. Much of the testosterone that is prescribed for the purposes of hormone therapy is in the form of esters. The most commonly prescribed testosterone esters in the United States for FTM hormone therapy are testosterone cypionate and testosterone enanthate. To learn more about esters, and other types of testosterone, click here. See also "cypionate" and "enanthate."

F2M: see "FTM"

female-to-male transsexual: Often referred to as FTM, F2M, or a trans man. A person who was born in a female body but whose gender identity is male. Also can refer to those assigned female at birth, in the case of intersex people, whose gender identity is male. Usually, female-to-male transsexuals will seek hormonal and/or surgical treatment in order to live successfully as a men in society.

FTM: Short for Female-To-Male. Usually said aloud as "F to M." The term originally was intended to refer specifically to female-to-male transsexuals (and the female-to-male transition process), though in recent years it has come to be used by others who are born in female bodies and who move toward masculine or male presentation without hormones or surgery. See also "female-to-male transsexual" and "transition."

gender confirmation surgery (GCS): Considered by some to be an affirming and positive term for the various surgical procedures included under the broad category of "sex reassignment surgery (SRS)." See also "sex reassignment surgery (SRS)," "chest surgery," "genital reconstruction surgery (GRS)," "hysterectomy," and "oophorectomy."

gender dysphoria: Also body dysphoria. A term coined by psychologists and medical doctors that refers to the state of discomfort felt by transsexuals and some transgender people caused by the incongruity between one's physical sex and one's gender identity.

gender identity: A person's internal self-awareness of being either male or female, masculine or feminine, or something in-between.

Gender Identity Disorder (GID): A condition identified by psychologists and medical doctors wherein a person who has been identified as/assigned a specific gender at birth identifies as belonging to another gender.

genderqueer: A person whose gender identity is neither male nor female, is between or beyond genders, or is some combination of genders.

genital reconstruction surgery (GRS): Sometimes also referred to as "genital reassignment surgery," "bottom surgery," or "lower surgery." For trans men, this is the process of constructing a phallus/penis from an individual's own donor tissue (this is usually referred to as "phalloplasty"), or the process of "freeing up" the enlarged clitoris from its connective tissue (the clitoris is typically elongated and changed somewhat in appearance as a result of testosterone therapy) so that it is presented on the body in a more phallic/penis-like manner (this is usually referred to as "metoidioplasty"). Scrotal implants may or may not be added during these procedures. To learn more about genital reconstruction surgery, click here. See also "phalloplasty" and "metoidioplasty."

GID: see "Gender Identity Disorder"

GRS: see "genital reconstruction surgery"

Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association (HBIGDA): see "World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH)"

Harry Benjamin Standards of Care (HBSOC): see "World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) Standards of Care"

HBIGDA: short for "Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association;" see "World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH)"

HBSOC: short for "Harry Benjamin Standards of Care;" see "World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) Standards of Care"

hermaphrodite: considered by many to be an outdated and pejorative term; see "intersex"

hysterectomy: Sometimes shortened to "hysto." The surgical removal of the uterus. This surgery is often pursued by trans men as part of the transition process, as well as for health reasons. A hysterectomy is required by some states in order to legally change one's gender status from female to male. To learn more about the hysterectomy procedure, click here. See also "oophorectomy."

hysto: see "hysterectomy"

intersex: The condition of being born with genitalia or reproductive anatomy that is difficult to label as male or female, and/or developing secondary sexual characteristics of indeterminate sex or which combine features of both sexes. The term "hermaphrodite" had been used in the past to refer to intersex persons, but that term is now considered by many to be negative and inaccurate. (For an in-depth discussion of intersex conditions, please visit the Intersex Society of North America's web site: www.isna.org/faq/what_is_intersex.)

Many intersex infants and children are subjected to genital surgeries and hormone treatments in order to conform their bodies to the standard of either "male" or "female." There is a growing movement to prevent such surgeries in children to allow freedom of choice for intersex people regarding their bodies.

keyhole: A type of chest surgery procedure that is effective for individuals with small amounts of breast tissue. In the keyhole method, a small incision is made along the border of the areola (usually along the bottom), and the breast tissue is removed via a liposuction needle through the incision. The nipple is left attached to the body via a pedicle (a stalk of tissue) in an attempt to maintain sensation. Once the breast tissue has been removed, the incision is closed. The nipple is usually not resized or repositioned. To learn more about chest surgery options, click here. See also "chest surgery."

low ho or lo-ho: A term that refers to taking relatively low doses of testosterone.

lower surgery: see "genital reconstruction surgery"

meta: see "metoidioplasty"

metaoidioplasty: alternate spelling for "metoidioplasty"

metoidioplasty: Sometimes spelled "metaoidioplasty;" sometimes shortened to "meta." The surgical process of "freeing up" the enlarged clitoris from its connective tissue (the clitoris is typically elongated and changed somewhat in appearance as a result of testosterone therapy) so that it is presented on the body in a more phallic or penis-like manner. Scrotal implants may or may not be added. To learn more about metoidioplasty and other kinds of genital reconstruction surgery, click here. See also "genital reconstruction surgery."

oophorectomy: The surgical removal of one or both ovaries. This surgery is often pursued by trans men, usually in combination with a hysterectomy, as part of the transition process, as well as for health reasons. A hysterectomy is required by some states in order to legally change one's gender status from female to male. To learn more about the oophorectomy procedure, click here. See also "hysterectomy."

packer: see "packing"

packing: The process of creating a male-looking and/or male-feeling bulge in one's crotch. This can be accomplished through a home-made or store-bought pants stuffer, or through a realistic-looking prosthetic device. A packing device may be referred to as a "packer" or "packy," or as an "STP packer" if it can also be used to pee through while standing up (STP= Stand To Pee). Some guys simply refer to their packer or prosthetic as a cock and balls, a dick, etc.

Some trans men do not pack at all-- some find it too hot and/or sticky, others find it uncomfortable and/or inconvenient, and still others find it personally unnecessary. Some trans men pack simply for the sake of creating a realistic-looking bulge in their pants. Others may pack only on certain occasions (while swimming, while in the locker room, or wearing tight-fitting pants). Still others may feel incomplete and/or conspicuous without wearing a packer or prosthetic device. Some have realistic prosthetics that are affixed to the skin for wear throughout the day and night. For some trans men, the term "packing" itself is not even an accurate descriptor for the wearing of a prosthetic device-- a prosthetic may be considered more an extension of the body rather than merely a pants-stuffer. To learn more about packing and packing devices and prosthetics, click here.

passing: In an FTM context, being seen or read as male by others (e.g., "On the street, Alex was passing as a man"). Many trans people object to the term "passing," as it implies that one is being mistaken for something they are not, or engaging in deception.

patch, the, or T patch: Refers to testosterone as applied via a patch adhered daily to the skin. There are currently two brand-name testosterone patches available in the United States: "Androderm" and "Testoderm." The testosterone in these patches is suspended in an alcohol-based gel. In order to deliver the testosterone efficiently into the body, chemical enhancers are added to the patch to increase permeability of the skin. To learn more about testosterone patches and other forms of testosterone, click here. See also "testosterone."

peri: see "peri-areolar"

peri-areolar: Sometimes shortened to "peri." A type of chest surgery procedure that is effective for individuals with small to medium amounts of breast tissue. In the peri-areolar method, an incision is made along the entire circumference of the areola. The nipple is usually left attached to the body via a pedicle in an attempt to maintain sensation. Breast tissue is then "scooped out" by scalpel, or with a combination of scalpel and liposuction. The areola may be trimmed somewhat to reduce its size. Excess skin on the chest may also be trimmed away along the circumference of the incision. The skin is then pulled taut toward the center of the opening and the nipple is reattached to cover the opening-- much like pulling a drawstring bag closed. Thus, this procedure is also sometimes referred to as the drawstring or "purse string" technique. The nipple/areola may be repositioned slightly, depending on original chest size and the available skin. To learn more about chest surgery options, click here. See also "chest surgery."

phallo: see "phalloplasty"

phalloplasty: Sometimes shortened to "phallo." A type of genital reconstruction surgery in which a phallus/penis is constructed from an individual's own donor tissue (usually taken from the forearm, leg, side of the torso, and/or abdomen) that has been shaped and grafted into place. Phalloplasty operations are usually done in stages requiring multiple surgeries. Scrotal implants may or may not be added. To learn more about phalloplasty and other kinds of genital reconstruction surgery, click here. See also "genital reconstruction surgery."

Real Life Test (RLT): A period of time in which a transsexual person is required to live full time in the role of the sex they identify with (i.e., a transsexual person born female would be living full time as a male) before the medical community will begin steps in a medical gender reassignment process such as hormone therapy or surgeries. The RLT is required under some Standards of Care for the treatment of transsexuals; however, mental health and medical professionals may sometimes use discretion when determining if a RLT is necessary for a given individual. See also "World Professional Association for Transgender Health Standards of Care (WPATH SOC)" and "Standards of Care."

sex change operation: see "sex reassignment surgery"

sex reassignment surgery (SRS): Commonly termed a "sex change operation." This term is somewhat of a misnomer, because it implies there is one surgical procedure for successful transition into presenting or living as male. For trans men, there are several surgical procedures available, including chest reconstruction surgery, hysterectomy/oophorectomy, and different types of genital reconstruction surgery (GRS). Many trans men undergo chest surgery, but not GRS. Many have chest surgery and a hysterectomy, but not GRS. Some have all three procedures (which may total more than three surgeries, as GRS can often involve several surgical procedures). Still others may not be able to afford any surgery at all, or choose not to have surgery for various reasons, yet live very successfully as men in society through ongoing testosterone treatment.

The requirements for "changing sex" under the law (i.e., changing one's legally recognized sex) vary from state to state, and often depend on the amount and type of surgery or hormone therapy one has had. A few states will not allow for a change in legal sex no matter how much surgery of treatment one has had. Thus, the idea that there is one clear-cut surgical solution for "changing sex" is a bit misleading. See also "gender confirmation surgery (GCS)," "chest surgery," "genital reconstruction surgery (GRS)," "hysterectomy," and "oophorectomy."

SOC: see "Standards of Care"

SRS: see "sex reassignment surgery"

Standards of Care (SOC): When someone uses the term "Standards of Care," they are often (but not always) referring to the WPATH SOC (formerly known as the Harry Benjamin Standards of Care, or HBSOC)-- a set of standards and guidelines used by professionals for the medical and mental health treatment of transsexuals. Certain health clinics and gender clinics have devised their own Standards of Care for transsexual and transgender people, which may differ from the WPATH SOC. See also "World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH)" and "World Professional Association for Transgender Health Standards of Care (WPATH SOC)."

STP device: Short for "Stand to Pee" device. A device designed to aid the user in standing to pee at a urinal or toilet. There are a few different types of STP devices, both homemade and store-bought. To learn more about STP devices, click here.

stealth: After a trans man has transitioned, he may choose not to reveal his transsexual status to those around him (for example, to coworkers, friends, neighbors, etc.); this is referred to as "going stealth" or "being stealth."

Sustanon: The brand name for two formulas of injectable testosterone that contain a blend of esters. "Sustanon 100" contains three testosterone esters: testosterone propionate (C22H32O3), testosterone phenylpropionate (C28H36O3), and testosterone isocaproate (C25H3803). "Sustanon 250" contains four testosterone esters: testosterone propionate (C22H32O3), testosterone phenylpropionate (C28H36O3), testosterone isocaproate (C25H3803), and testosterone decanoate (C29H4603). Both formulas feature both fast-acting and slow-acting esters, and can be injected anywhere from once every week to once every four weeks. Sustanon is prescribed outside of the United States. See also "esters." To learn more about esters, and other types of testosterone, click here.

top surgery: see "chest surgery"

T: see "testosterone"

testosterone: Sometimes shortened to "T." An androgenic hormone responsible for producing masculine secondary sex characteristics such as facial hair growth, deepening of the voice, increased body hair growth, and increased muscle development. Testosterone therapy is administered to trans men to induce and maintain the presence of masculine secondary sex characteristics. To learn more about hormones and the body, click here. To learn more about testosterone therapy basics for FTM transsexuals, click here.

testosterone gel: A form of testosterone applied directly to the skin on a daily basis. There are currently two brand-name versions of testosterone gel available in the United States: Androgel and Testim. Care must be taken to avoid skin-to-skin contact with a partner on the site of application. Transfer of the testosterone from the site can be prevented by keeping the area covered. To learn more about testosterone gel and other forms of testosterone, click here. See also "testosterone."

transgender: Broadly speaking, transgender people are individuals whose gender expression and/or gender identity differs from conventional expectations based on the physical sex they were born into. The word transgender is an umbrella term which is often used to describe a wide range of identities and experiences, including: FTM transsexuals, MTF transsexuals, cross-dressers, drag queens, drag kings, genderqueers, and many more. Because transgender is an umbrella term, it is imprecise and does not adequately describe the particulars of specific identities and experiences. (For example, the identity/experience of a post-operative FTM transsexual will probably be very different from that of a female-identified drag king who performs on weekends, but both are often lumped together under the term "transgender.")

trans: Sometimes short for "transsexual," sometimes short for "transgender." See individual listings for those terms.

trans man: Short for "female-to-male transsexual" or "transsexual man;" sometimes also used to refer to those who were identified as/assigned female at birth and identify along a masculine spectrum.

transition: The act(s) of changing from one sex to the other, and/or the act(s) of changing one's physical body and/or appearance as part of a sex/gender change. For most trans men, transition is not a single discrete event, but a gradual set of changes over a period of time. As such, it is difficult to determine exactly when transition begins and when it ends. Some feel that their transition begins the day they begin hormone treatment. Some feel it begins when they tell their loved ones about their identity. Some feel it begins when they change their name legally to a male name. Some feel they are "in transition" for a few years while hormonal changes settle in. Some feel that their transition has officially ended when and if they are legally recognized as male. Some feel their transition is complete when they have completed genital reconstruction surgery. In short, what constitutes "being in transition" differs among trans men.

transsexual: An individual whose gender identity does not match the sex that was identified with/assigned to them at birth. Many transsexual people will seek hormonal and/or surgical treatment in order to bring their body into alignment with their gender identity. See also "gender identity" and "female-to-male transsexual."

World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH): Formerly known as the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association, Inc. (HBIGDA), WPATH is a professional organization devoted to the understanding and treatment of gender identity disorders. WPATH is best known for developing and refining Standards of Care (SOC) for the treatment of gender identity disorders (formerly known as the Harry Benjamin Standards of Care, or HBSOC). The WPATH SOC, currently in their sixth version, are periodically updated and revised as new information becomes available. www.wpath.org

World Professional Association for Transgender Health Standards of Care (WPATH SOC): Formerly known as the Harry Benjamin Standards of Care (HBSOC), the WPATH SOC are the most widespread set of standards and guidelines used by professionals for the medical and mental health treatment of transsexuals. The WPATH SOC, currently in their sixth version, are periodically updated and revised as new scientific and medical information becomes available. See also "World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH)."

WPATH: See "World Professional Association for Transgender Health"

WPATH SOC: See "World Professional Association for Transgender Health Standards of Care"

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