To answer such a complex question, we first have to analyze an idea that many of us take as a fundamental truth; the gender binary. Many people assume there are only two genders and that these genders necessarily align with the physical sex. But if we think about every other trait with which we are born, it would make sense to think of gender and sex as a spectrum rather than a Black and White, This or That, sort of option.
Our hair color, skin color, and personalities meld so closely together that it is often hard to tell one from the other. Does this person have light brown hair or dark blonde hair? Once we accept that every other physical and mental aspect is formed along a spectrum, it is easier to understand that gender identity and sex are subject to the same rules.
Thus, we begin with some definitions.
Birth Sex/ Biological Sex: These refer to a designation based on physical appearance of the sex organs at birth. This is assigned to the individual.
Intersex- An individual born with ambiguous genitalia, gonads, or sex chromosomes.
Gender: This describes a qualitative experience of a person’s identity, expression and relationship to one’s body. Identities can include woman, man, masculine, feminine, femme, transgender, genderqueer, and trans. An individual defines their own gender.
Transgender- An individual who identifies with or expresses a gender identity that differs from the one which corresponds to the person's sex at birth
Cisgender: Remember how in organic chemistry ‘cis’ meant same? This term describes people whose gender aligns with their assigned sex.
Female-To-Male/ FTM/ F2M/ Trans Male: An individual who was assigned female at birth, but identifies as male. Some trans men choose to utilize hormonal or surgical therapies, while others do not. Use masculine pronouns such as He and Him.
Male-To-Female/ MTF/ M2F/ Trans Woman: An individual who was assigned male at birth, but identifies as female. Some trans women choose to use hormonal or surgical therapies, while others do not. Use feminine pronouns such as She and Her.