To help readers from outside the trans community to understand articles easily, we have added a glossary to the site.  Explanations will be added as terms are used, so it will take time to grow.  I’ll add important legislation as well, with links to copies to the statute / regulations in full.  If you find any links are broken, please let me know.

Disability and Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA)

[to follow]


The Diagnostic & Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders is published by the American Phsychological Association (APA) and is not available freely online. It is presently (2009) in a transitional version DSM-IV-TR. Work is underway to produce DSM-5 with publication expected in 2012.  The guidance for the diagnosis of GID is of international importance.

Gender dysphoria (GD)

See Gender identity disorder

Gender identity disorder (GID)

Usually abbreviated to GID this is the medical diagnosis of transsexualism.  It may also be referred to as Gender Dysphoria (GD) which is synonymous and preferred by some transsexual people as it avoids the use of the word “disorder”.

GID is defined by DSM-IV 302.85 and in ICD-10 F64.0.   Refer to page 4 of the SOC for more details but the main criteria for diagnosis are as follows:

DSM-IV-TR (302.85)

  1. There must be evidence of a strong and persistent cross-gender identification.
  2. This cross-gender identification must not merely be a desire for any perceived cultural advantages of being the other sex.
  3. There must also be evidence of persistent discomfort about one’s assigned sex or a sense of inappropriateness in the gender role of that sex.
  4. The individual must not have a concurrent physical intersex condition.
  5. There must be evidence of clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning

ICD-10 (F64.0) 

  1. The desire to live and be accepted as a member of the opposite sex, usually accompanied by the wish to make his or her body as congruent as possible with the preferred sex through surgery and hormone treatment;
  2. The transsexual identity has been present persistently for at least two years;
  3. The disorder is not a symptom of another mental disorder or a chromosomal abnormality.

Note – there is guidance of other trans-related diagnoses in DSM/ICD which I will add when I get chance.

Gender Recognition Act 2004 (GRA)

This UK Act of Parliament covers the mechanism by which those who have undergone gender reassignment may apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) and change their birth certificates.  It has been published online here by the Office of Public Sector Information.

The GRA is important in offering the only legal definition of gender dysphoria:  gender dysphoria” means the disorder variously referred to as gender dysphoria, gender identity disorder and transsexualism”.  Effectively that forces the defition back on documents like the DSM and ICD.

Section 22 of the Act also makes is an absolute criminal offenceto reveal that an individual has a GRC if that information has been revealed in an official capacity. This applies to individuals as well as organisations and means, for instance, that if a trans person reveals to one person when applying for a job that s/he has a GRC it would be a criminal offence for that person to mention the applicant’s gender reassignment even to a colleague involved in the recruitment process. There are certain exceptions set out in regulations dealing with issues like taking legal advice.

Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC)

A full Gender Recognition Certificate recognises an indivdual in their correct gender (acquired gender in the language of the GRA).  The key phrase in the GRA is as follows:

Where a full gender recognition certificate is issued to a person, the person’s gender becomes for all purposes the acquired gender (so that, if the acquired gender is the male gender, the person’s sex becomes that of a man and, if it is the female gender, the person’s sex becomes that of a woman).

 International Classification of Diseases (ICD)

The ICD is published by the World Health Organisation.

Mental Capacity Act 2005

An UK Act of Parliament dealing with issues of mental capacity and published online here by the Office of Public Sector Information.

Mental Health Act 1983

The main UK Act of Parliament setting out the legal basis and treatment of mental health in the UK.  It is not available online but the Department of Health has put a synposis online here.  It is also possible to order a copy by following links from that page.

Mental Health Act 2007

An UK Act of Parliament effecting major changes to the Mental Health Act 1983 and published online here by the Office of Public Sector Information.

Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (SDA)

This is the main UK Act of Parliament dealing with discrimination on grounds of gender in employment and the provision of services. It has been amended many, many times and now includes provisions specifically relating to gender reassignment and to harassment on grounds of gender or gender reassignment. The Office of Public Sector Information has put a copy of the original Act online here, but it excludes all the amendments.  The barrister, John Antell, has a copy on his website which he claims (I have not verified this) is upto date to 1st October 2003 – that means it omits several important amendments in relation to gender reassignment but it is still an easier starting point than the 1975 base. 

SOC (Standards of Care)

The SOC states that its main purpose ” is to articulate this international organization’s professional consensus about the psychiatric,psychological, medical, and surgical management of gender identity disorders.”  The protocol  is produced by WPATH and offers the main treatment guidelines for the treatment of GID.  The present version 6 is available online.

Transsexuals (TS) and transsexualism

[to follow]

Transvestites (TVs) and transvestism

Unlike transsexual people who have a desire to live in their correct gender 24/7, transvestites wish to retain a male (occassionally female but the vast majorty of TVs are male) identity and physiology while dressing part time as a woman.  The boundaries with transsexualism are hard to discern as some TVs may spent pactically their entire time cross-dressed, and some TVs come to realise that they are in fact transsexual (TS) and proceed through gender reassignment.

It should not be assume that TVs are homosexual men (or lesbian women).  Many are straight and married.  Gender identity is separate to sexual orientation.


 WPATH is the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, formerly formerly known as the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association (HBIGDA) in recognition of its founder, Harry Benjamin.  It’s main relevance to most transsexual people is as publisher of the Standards of Care protocol which is the main guidance for the treatment of GID.


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