Table of Contents

Overview of Search Terms

Terminology used to describe transgender individuals has evolved over time. This variability in language can make searching comprehensively for literature on transgender topics difficult. Below is a list of search terms that can be used in databases from a variety of disciplines. The list is annotated to provide context and guide their use. Many of the definitions were adapted from https://www.digitaltransgenderarchive.net/learn/glossary.

Term

Notes

Transgender

As an identity term, describes individuals whose gender identities and/or expressions do not align with the sociocultural expectations of their birth-assigned gender; most widely used term in the literature

Gender identity An umbrella term referring to one's sense of self

Trans men

Generally describes people assigned female at birth who identify as men; plural

Trans man

Generally describes someone assigned female at birth who identifies as a man

Trans women

Generally describes people assigned male at birth who identify as women; plural

Trans woman

Generally describes someone assigned male at birth who identifies as a woman

Trans youth

Children and adolescents who are transgender

Transfeminine

Individuals who were assigned male at birth but align more closely with the female side of the gender spectrum.

Transmasculine

Individuals who were assigned female at birth but align more closely with the male side of the gender spectrum.

Trans folks

Gender neutral reference to transgender people.

Trans folx

An alternative spelling for trans folks

Intersex

A variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male

AFAB

Assigned female at birth

AMAB

Assigned male at birth

Cross gender

Across multiple gender identities, that draw from or pertain to, the traditional opposite role of the individual’s gender.

Crossgender

Across multiple gender identities, that draw from or pertain to, the traditional opposite role of the individual’s gender.

Trans people

Plural reference to people who identify as transgender

Trans person

Singular reference to a person who identifies as transgender

QTPOC

Queer and trans persons of color

Gender change

Referrers to changing one’s gender they were assigned at birth.  Differently, sometimes used instead of sex change. Can also mean changing gender markers in systems.

Gender transition

The process of gender identity and expression development of an individual whose gender assigned at birth is not aligned with their self-identified gender. Gender transition is comprised of personal, social, legal, and physical processes. Some examples of these processes may include hormone replacement therapy, name changes, and or a change in wardrobe.

Trans male

A person assigned female at birth who identifies as male or has a masculine gender identity (Female to Male)

Trans female

A person assigned male at birth who identifies as female or has a feminine gender identity (Male to Female)

Two spirit

A modern term used by some Native American populations to describe a third-gender or gender variant individual

M2F or MTF

A person assigned male at birth who identifies as female or has a feminine gender identity (Male to Female)

F2M or FTM

A person assigned female at birth who identifies as male or has a masculine gender identity (Female to Male)

Sexual minority

A group whose sexual identity, orientation, or practices differs from the majority of the surrounding society

Trans spectrum

An umbrella term for people whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth; a continuum that accounts for every variation of gender identity

Gender minority

A group whose gender identity or expression differs from the majority of the surrounding society

Gender queer

A person whose identity falls outside of the gender binary, or an umbrella term to describe identities outside of the gender binary (e.g., agender, genderfluid)

Genderqueer

A person whose identity falls outside of the gender binary, or an umbrella term to describe identities outside of the gender binary (e.g., agender, genderfluid)

Gender fluid

Nonbinary gender identity that’s not fixed and is capable of changing over time

Non-binary

Individuals that do not define or describe themselves according to a binary female and male gender spectrum.

Agender

Individuals that do not define or describe themselves as having or belonging to a gender.

Gender variant


 

A term noting an individual whose gender identity or expression does not conform to dominant or socially accepted gender norms. Other related terms include gender fluid, gender non-conforming, gender expansive, gender diverse, and gender creative.

Gender non-conforming

A person whose behavior or appearance does not conform or match masculine or feminine gender norms.

Gender expression

How a person performs gender within a spectrum of femininity and masculinity.

Gender expansive

Used for individuals who broaden their own culture’s commonly held definitions of gender.

Gender diverse

Describes an ever-evolving array of labels people may apply when their gender identity, expression, or even perception.

Gender creative

People, often children, who don’t conform to traditional gender norms.

Transvestite

Outdated terminology relevant for historical and/or archival research.

Transsexual

Outdated terminology relevant for historical research in medical and psychological subject areas.

Third gender

Characterizing one’s gender as neither male nor female.

Transphobia

Discrimination against trans-identified people.

Trans

Short for transgender; keep in mind that truncating this term (e.g., trans*) will also retrieve results such as transportation, transdisciplinary, transnational, transglobal, etc.

Health/Clinical Terms

 

Gender confirmation surgery

Various medical interventions to enable individuals to present in the gender as which they identify.   Synonyms include sex affirmation surgery, gender confirmation surgery, or sex reassignment surgery.

Sex realignment surgery

Various medical interventions to enable individuals to present in the gender as which they identify.   Synonyms include sex affirmation surgery, gender confirmation surgery, or sex reassignment surgery.

Gender reassignment

surgery

Various medical interventions to enable individuals to present in the gender as which they identify.   Synonyms include sex affirmation surgery, gender confirmation surgery, sex realignment surgery.

Gender affirmation or affirming

Various medical interventions to enable individuals to present in the gender as which they identify

Sex reassignment


 

Clinical and/or surgical treatments used to change one’s physiological characteristics to reflect their gender identity. Most widely used in medical and psychological literature.

Gender dysphoria

Discontent or distress with one’s gender assigned at birth

Search Hedges

Hedges are tested and standardized search strategies that can be used to retrieve articles on specific concepts (e.g., randomized controlled trials, resource poor countries, transgender populations). To apply these filters, click on the link we've provided (the links will only work for UMN affiliates, except for PubMed), copy and paste the strategy into the relevant database, or recreate the strategy we've provided in the relevant database. Hedges are not a guarantee of retrieving quality research; you still need to critically appraise results for quality and relevance.

Ovid Medline Search Hedge

Last reviewed: May 13, 2019

#

Search Statement

1

exp Transgender Persons/

2

exp Transsexualism/

3

exp Sex Reassignment Procedures/

4

transgender*.tw.

5

transsexual*.tw.

6

("trans m#n" or "trans wom#n" or "trans person*" or transpeople or "trans male*" or "trans female*").tw.

7

((gender adj3 (non-binary or agender or fluid* or trans* or non-conform* or nonconform*)) or gender-nonconform*).tw.

8

gender dysphori*.tw.

9

(sex reassignment* or gender reassignment* or gender affirm*).tw.

10

(transfeminine or transmasculine).tw.

11

(AFAB or AMAB).tw.

12

(gender adj (expression* or transition*)).tw.

13

(transvestite* or transvestism).tw.

14

or/1-13

Link: Link to search in Ovid MEDLINE

Notes:

The following terms were excluded due to too few or irrelevant results

Trans girl

Trans boy

Trans guy

Trans youth

Trans folks

Trans folx

Cross gender

Gender change

Gender minority

Sexual minority

Two spirit

M2F and F2M

Gender diverse

Gender creative

Gender expansive

Trans spectrum

Ovid PsycINFO Search Hedge

Last reviewed: July 11, 2019

#

Search Statement

1

Gender dysphoria/ or gender identity disorder*.tw.

2

exp Transgender/ or Transgender.po.

3

exp "Transgender (Attitudes Toward)"/

4

Gender reassignment/

5

"sex change*".tw.

6

Human.po.

7

animal.po.

8

5 and (7 not 6)

9

5 not 8

10

transgender*.tw.

11

Transsexualism/ or Transsexual*.tw.

12

("trans m#n" or "trans wom#n" or "trans person*" or transpeople or "trans male*" or "trans female*").tw.

13

Gender Nonconforming/

14

Gender identity/

15

(non-binary or agender or fluid* or non-conform* or nonconform*).tw.

16

14 and 15

17

(Gender adj3 (non-binary or agender or fluid* or non-conform* or nonconform*)).tw.

18

(genderfluid* or genderqueer or "gender varian*" or "gender ambigui*").tw.

19

13 or 16 or 17 or 18

20

Transvestism/

21

Transvest*.tw.

22

cross gender*.tw.

23

or/1-4,9-12,19-22

Link: Link to search in Ovid PsycInfo

Other official terms of possible interest:

Intersex Conditions

LGBTQ

Sexual Minority Groups 

(APA scope note, “Individuals whose sexual orientation, practices, or gender identity differ from the majority”)

 

Notes:

 

  • In line 14 do not explode Gender Identity/ as relevant narrower headings included elsewhere

  • Dropped (MTF or FTM or m2f or f2m) as it introduced too much noise without additional good matches. 

  • Cross gender*.tw. - included as a few (mainly unindexed) additional articles found. Many of the potentially irrelevant articles are around gender identity formation, so may be warranted, depending on topic.

PubMed Search Hedge

Last reviewed: May 13, 2019

("Transsexualism"[Mesh] OR "Transvestism"[Mesh] OR "Sex Reassignment Procedures"[Mesh] OR "Transgender Persons"[Mesh] OR "Gender Identity"[Mesh] OR "Health Services for Transgender Persons"[Mesh]) OR (transgender*[tw] OR transsexual*[tw] OR "gender identit*"[tw] OR "sex reassignment*"[tw] OR "gender dysphori*"[tw] OR "trans men"[tw] OR "trans man"[tw] OR "trans women"[tw] OR "trans woman"[tw] OR "cross gender*"[tw] OR crossgender*[tw] OR "trans people"[tw] OR "trans person*"[tw] OR "gender reassignment*"[tw] OR "gender change*"[tw] OR "gender transition*"[tw] OR "trans male*"[tw] OR "trans female*"[tw] OR "gender non-conform*"[tw] OR "two spirit*"[tw] OR "gender fluid*"[tw] OR "non-binary"[tw] OR agender*[tw] OR "gender varian*"[tw] OR "gender queer"[tw] OR genderqueer[tw])

Link: Link to search in PubMed

EBSCO CINAHL Search Hedge

Last reviewed: May 13, 2019

#

Search Statement

S1

(MH "Transgender Persons+")

S2 (MH "Transsexuals")
S3 (MH "Transsexualism")
S4 (MH "Sex Reassignment Procedures+")
S5 TX transgender*
S6 TX transsexual*
S7 TX "trans m#n" or "trans wom#n" or "trans person*" or transpeople or "trans male*" or "trans female*"
S8 TX gender* N3 (non-binary or fluid* or trans* or non-conform* or nonconform* or queer*)
S9 TX gender dysphori*
S10 TX sex reassignment* or gender reassignment* or gender affirm*
S11 TX transfeminine or transmasculine
S12 TX AFAB or AMAB
S13 TX gender N2 (expression* or transition*)
S14 TX transvestite* or transvestism
S15 TX gender minorit* or gender diver*
S16 S1 OR S2 OR S3 OR S4 OR S5 OR S6 OR S7 OR S8 OR S9 OR S10 OR S11 OR S12 OR S13 OR S14 OR S15

Link: Link to search hedge in EBSCO CINAHL

Ovid Embase Search Hedge

Last reviewed: July 11, 2019

#

Search Statement

1

transgender*.tw.

2 transsexual*.tw.
3 ("trans m#n" or "trans wom#n" or "trans person*" or transpeople or "trans male*" or "trans female*").tw.
4 ((gender adj3 (non-binary or agender or fluid* or trans* or non-conform* or nonconform*)) or gender-nonconform*).tw.
5 gender dysphori*.tw.
6 (sex reassignment* or gender reassignment* or gender affirm*).tw.
7 (transfeminine or transmasculine).tw.
8 (AFAB or AMAB).tw.
9 (gender adj (expression* or transition*)).tw.
10 (transvestite* or transvestism).tw.
11 exp transgender/
12 exp transsexualism/
13 exp sex reassignment/
14 exp sex transformation/
15 OR/1-14

Link: Link to search in Ovid Embase

EBSCO Women's Studies International Search Hedge

SU ( Transsexualism OR transsexuals OR “transgender people” OR transgenderism OR “Male-to-female transsexuals” OR “Female-to-male transsexuals” ) OR SU “Gender identity” OR SU ( “Sex change” OR “sex reassignment surgery” OR “gender transition” OR “genital surgery” OR “Genitourinary organs -- surgery” )  OR ( genderqueer OR "gender fluid" OR "Gender dysphoria" ) OR ( trans m*n” OR “trans wom*n” OR transm*n OR transwom*n )

Proquest GenderWatch Search Hedge

su(("gender identity" OR "transgender persons" OR transsexuality OR "gender nonconforming")) OR (genderqueer* OR "gender fluid" OR "trans m*n" OR "trans wom*n" OR transm*n OR transwom*n OR "gender reassignment surgery" OR "sex change" OR (transgender* AND surgery) OR "gender dysphoria" OR "gender identity disorder")

EBSCO Education Source Search Hedge

SU ( Transgenderism OR Transsexualism OR "sexual minorities" ) OR SU ( "transgender identity" OR Transgenderism OR Transsexualism OR "sexual minorities" ) OR SU ( "Sex reassignment surgery" OR "gender transition" OR "genital surgery" ) OR SU ( "gender identity in education" OR "transgender youth" OR "Gender identity" OR "Transgender students" ) OR SU ( "gender expression" OR "gender bending (gender expression)" OR "gender-nonconforming people" OR "transgender people" ) OR ( genderqueer OR "gender fluid" OR "Gender dysphoria"  OR "trans m*n” OR “trans wom*n” OR transm*n OR transwom*n )

 

EBSCO LGBT Life with Full Text Search Hedge

SU ( ( "TRANSGENDER people" OR TRANSSEXUALS OR" OR "GENDER-nonconforming people" OR Transgenderism OR "GENDER benders (Gender expression)" ) OR ( "GENDER identity" OR "GENDER nonconformity" ) OR ( "GENDER transition" OR "GENDER expression" OR ) OR ( "MALE-to-female transsexuals" OR "FEMALE-to-male transsexuals" )  OR SU ( "hormone therapy" OR "sex reassignment surgery" OR ) OR SU "STANDARDS of care (Transgenderism)" ) OR ( ( genderqueer OR "gender fluid" OR "Gender dysphoria" ) OR ( trans m*n” OR “trans wom*n” OR transm*n OR transwom*n ) )

EBSCO ERIC Search Hedge

Simple search (will retrieve vast majority of relevant records):

SU Sexual Identity OR TX (transexul* OR transgender*)

Complex search (this is a more sensitive search, with more articles about cysgender difference, bias, conformity, etc.)
SU Sexual Identity
OR
TX (transsexual* OR transgender* OR “gender minorit*” OR "trans m?n" OR "trans wom?n" OR “trans male” OR “trans female” OR “trans girl*” OR “trans boy*” OR “trans youth” OR transmasculine OR transfeminine OR "trans person*" OR "trans people"  OR (gender N3 (non-binary OR fluid* OR trans* OR non-conform*) OR “gender non-conforming” OR "gender identit*" OR agender OR genderqueer OR “gender queer” OR “gender ambigui*” OR “gender divers*” OR “gender expansiv*” OR transvest* OR Gender reassign* OR  “sex change” OR “gender dysphor*”) NOT SU (“Sex Role” OR “Gender Differences”)

Last Updated: Jun 24, 2020 10:45 AM