- n. 1. A person
whose biological sex is not readily apparent, whether owing to
chance or choice (see 'genderfuck'). 2. A person who is
intermediate between the two traditional genders. 3. A person
who rejects gender roles entirely.
'hermaphrodite' refer to people intermediate in
sex, 'androgyne' to people intermediate in gender.
- A creature that alternates between male and female. This word
is so obscure it is not even in the O.E.D.; as far as I know it
occurs only in the Physiologus, an anonymous book of the early
Renaissance. The Physiologus uses it to describe hyenas,
which were commonly believed to change their sex every year; it would
apply equally well to Ursula LeGuin's Gethenians.
- adj. and n. 1. (of words) indicating either sex with only
one grammatical form; 2. partaking of the characteristics of both
sexes; 3. common to both sexes; worn or inhabited
by both sexes.
This word has taken on a variety figurative meanings over the
centuries (Ben Jonson used it to mean something like 'effeminate');
still, more than any other word I know of, it emphasizes what is
common to both sexes. Its Greek root means 'common,' and it
shows up in descriptions of garments that either sex can wear, or
places both sexes dwell ('Epicene...Convents, wherein Monks and
Nuns lived together.' -- Fuller, c.1661). It is probably preferable
to 'androgyne' for the meaning ANDROGYNE 3 (see above).
The compiler of this
Dictionary thinks of zirself less as a combination of male and female,
than as the greatest common denominator of male and female; hence
zie rather likes this term to describe zirself. Alas, it will
probably never catch on. See the section Not
This, Not That: A Meditation on Labels.
- n. Sex is a set of biological differences between people; gender
is a set of social statuses built on the backs of those differences.
That, at least, is the brief definition; see
What is Gender for a longer one.
Some people, however, use gender to mean sex. This inconsistency
in usage can lead to great confusion. One day I plan to compile a
summary of harmful interactions between meanings; but not yet.
- Gender Dysphoria
- n. The state of discontentment with one's
biological sex or sex-of-rearing. Not all transgendered people
are gender dysphoric. (Some could only be described as gender
- n. (also v.): 1. Deliberately sending mixed messages
about one's sex, usually through dress (e.g., wearing a
skirt and a beard).
The compiler of this Dictionary likes the thing well enough, but
finds the term too violent. Perhaps 'gender play.'
- Gender Outlaw
- (Kate Bornstein) A person who defies traditional gender
- Gender Refusenik
- Proposed by the compiler of this Dictionary as a term for people
denied SRS (q.v.), whether due to lack of funds or psychological
paternalism. All gender refuseniks are non-ops (see
'transsexual'), but not all non-ops are refuseniks. Also 'gender
otkaznik' for the Slav-savvy.
- n. 1. A synonym for androgyne; now little used, but it's
in the OED. 2. Brent Spiner's child by Whoopi Goldberg.
- n. 1. (medical) A
person biologically intermediate between male and female. 1a.
(sometimes 'true hermaphrodite') a person with both ovarian and
testicular tissue, i.e. a person with ambiguous gonads; 1b. (also
'pseudohermaphrodite') a person with two ovaries or two
testes, but ambiguous genitals. The term 'intersexual'
is now preferred for senses 1a and 1b. 2. (biological)
an animal or plant having both male and female
reproductive organs. 3. (mythological; rarely used
in this sense) A boy with breasts (Hermaprhoditus is
so depicted in Greek art). 4. (probably obsolete,
though not so listed in Webster's Collegiate) Something
that is a combination of diverse elements.
Many people think the term 'hermaphrodite' applies only to a
person with both a penis and vagina. This mistaken idea comes from
a variety of disreputable sources, but chiefly, I think, from
pornographic movies, which sometimes feature 'hermaphrodites' made
the same way as the unicorn in Blade Runner.
porn-movie definition of hermaphrodite in correspondence with the
compiler of this Dictionary may be taken as prima facie
evidence that you are short of clues.
- n. 1. A youth in Greek myth, the son of Hermes and Aphrodite,
who was joined in one body with the nymph Salmacis while bathing.
The best-known telling of this story is in Ovid's
- A person who obsessively, compulsively and neurotically wears
the clothing of zir own sex.
- n. (the adj. form is usually 'intersexed.') 1. (obsolete)
homosexual. (The switch only makes sense, since 'bisexual' used
to mean 'hermaphrodite.') 2. A person biologically intermediate
between male and female.
The 'true intersexed' condition, where both ovarian and
testicular tissue are present in either the same gonad or in opposite
gonads, accounts for fewer than 5 percent of all cases of ambiguous
genitals. . . . Although most cases of ambiguous genitals do not
represent true intersex, in keeping with the contemporary
literature, I will refer to all such cases as intersexed.
Kessler, 'The Medical Construction of Gender,' Signs(1990:5)
- Intersexed children are routinely given surgery to make their genitalia
unambiguous; such surgery is most often medically unnecessary, and can
cripple sexual response. See the Intersex
Society of North America Webpage, Morgan Holmes's essay Queer Cut
- Necker Cube
- n. 1. An optical illusion in the shape of a cube.
May take either of two forms:
. . .
Proposed by the author as a symbol of androgyny, because it is
either concave or convex depending on how you look at it. I prefer
this to the mars-plus-venus sign, which depends upon a
juxtaposition of stereotpyes (sword and shield for male,
looking-glass for female), and which, furthermore, combines the
signs for the two most irritating gods in the Roman pantheon. If
we must depend on Greek mythology, I would prefer to take a cue
from Janus and use some variation of the two-faces motif on the
cover of some editions of The Left Hand of Darkness. The
Necker cube, however, is simpler, and suggests ambiguity in more
than mere gender. Who wants to design the lapel pin?
- Pre-operative Transsexual
- See 'transsexual.'
- v. Used by the author to describe the stuttering of pronouns or
honorifics owing to gender confusion. Named for Radar O'Reilly's
invariable "sir, ma'am, sir" when addressing
Major Hoolihan. Also suggests the scanning motion of the eyes that
often accompanies the stutter.
- n. 1. Suggested by the author as a term for male-to-intersex
and female-to-intersex transsexuals; see Hermaphroditus.
- The only non-latinate term for 'hermaphrodite' in our language,
so far as I know. Its pedigree goes back clear to Old English.
Hermafroditus, waepenwifestre, uel scratta,
(Waepenwifestre and baeddel have meanings similar to scrat, but seem
not to have made it into Modern English in any recognizable form.)
Somtyme one of mankynde is both man & woman &
suche..in englyssh is called a scrette.
--Caxton, Trevisa's Higden (1482)
The origins of the word 'scrat' are murky, but they seem
to be somehow bound up with the Old Norse skratte, meaning
wizard, goblin, monster. 'Old Scratch,' a nickname for the devil,
is an alteration of 'scrat.' In keeping with this derivation,
modern doctors who 'assign' intersexed children seem to regard
themselves as building a sex from scratch. Etymology, alas, is
- n. 1. A classification based on reproductive biology. Most people
think of sex as wholly bipolar, with male and female as the only
possibilities; more precisely, it is a continuum with most individuals
concentrated near the poles.
- Sie, hir
- pron. Gender-free pronouns, used chiefly on the Internet. See
the Gender-Free Pronouns FAQ
- n. Sex Reassignment Surgery. This is the generally preferred
term for what is colloquially referred to as a 'sex change operation.'
The compiler of this Dictionary, however, has a sneaking admiration
for Kate Bornstein's phrase 'genital conversion surgery.'
- n. In Greek mythology, a blind seer of Thebes who is changed
into a woman for several years, then changed back to a man. In one
story, Zeus and Hera ask Tiresias to settle a wager as to whether men or
women get more pleasure from sex. This myth predates Geraldo
by some two thousand years.
Transgendered was a term put into general usage by Virginia
Price. It originally meant a pre-operative transsexual who has no
desire to have the SRS. It later became a catchword for
Transvestites, transsexuals, female and male impersonators, drag
queens/kings, Intersexuals, gender dysphorics, and those that do
not fit any gender label.
What is a Pre/post/non-op transsexual?
These are all transsexuals in various stages of the
procedure. A pre-op transsexual is someone who has begun the
procedure to reassign the sex, but has not had the surgery. This
covers people who have just begun the procedure to those who are
very close to the actual surgery.
A post operative transsexual is someone who has had the
actual genital surgery done. It is very difficult to tell a m-f
post op transsexual from a genetic female. Up to very recently,
female-male transsexuals had no effective surgical technique to
create a penis. There are penile implants and grafts, but these
are often easy to spot.
'Non-op' transsexual is a word that is floating around.
Originally from a computer language, it means a person who has
had all the hormonal/surgical treatments, except the genital
surgery, and who either has no desire to proceed with the
surgery, or who cannot proceed due to financial constraints.
GIDAANT is another term for this (Gender Identity Disorder,
adolescent or Adult onset, Non transsexual).
In a particularly Biercean moment, the compiler of the this Dictionary
was heard to suggest that GIDAANTs are infinitely preferable to
termagants, owing to the latters' habit of becoming longtermagants.
- Zie, zir
- Another set of non-gendered pronouns used chiefly on the Internet. See
Pronouns FAQ. These fit more smoothly into sentences if you
pronounce them with a tz sound instead of plain z.