Interested in cosmetic plastic surgery procedures? Visit our sister site:

Glossary of the Different Types of Gender Affirming Surgeries & Terms to Know

happy person hugging selfEveryone deserves to feel at home in their body.

Gender affirmation surgery is a deeply personal decision that allows transgender and non-binary individuals to align their physical appearance with their gender identity. Various surgical and non-surgical options are available for treating gender dysphoria, and choosing the correct procedures is a unique process for each person. 

At the Institute for Advanced Reconstructive Surgery, we aim to provide education and guidance about gender-affirmation surgical options in a caring, compassionate way. 

Most importantly, we believe that each person’s journey is unique, and there is no right or wrong way to affirm one’s gender identity.

Terms of Identity 

Below is a list of terms regarding gender-affirming care and gender identity. Information is intended for educational purposes only, and the primary source of information for each person seeking gender-affirming care should be the patient him or herself. 

This glossary of terms may be helpful for discussions with family members or supportive friends who would like to learn more about gender dysphoria and gender-affirming surgery.

LGBTQIA+: An acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (or questioning) intersex, and asexual or allied. This umbrella term encompasses diverse gender identities and sexual orientations, and the “+” symbol acknowledges that our language for gender and sexual identity is limited and may continue to expand. 

Gender binary: A cultural description of two distinct, opposite genders (male and female).

Nonbinary: A term for someone whose gender identity falls outside the gender binary of male and female. Nonbinary people may identify as having aspects of multiple genders, no gender, or a unique gender altogether.

Agender: A nonbinary gender identity term describing a complete lack of identification with any gender.

Bigender: A nonbinary gender identity term for someone with two gender identities, either simultaneously or fluctuating between the two.

Cisgender: A term for someone whose gender identity aligns with the sex they were assigned at birth.

Queer: A broad identity term encompassing those with non-normative gender identities or sexual orientations. It is sometimes used interchangeably with LGBTQIA+.

Gender expression: How someone presents or expresses their gender identity externally through appearance, dress, mannerisms, speech, etc.

Gender affirmation: The process of making social, medical, or legal changes to align one's outward identity or appearance with one's internal gender identity.

Transgender: Also referred to as “trans,” transgender is a term used to describe someone whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth.

Deadnaming: Referring to a transgender person by the name they used before transitioning, intentionally or unintentionally. This invalidates their affirmed identity.

Different Types of Gender Affirming Surgeries

If you or someone you love identifies as transgender, gender affirmation surgery can be a meaningful step in aligning their outer appearance with their gender identity. Understanding the various available procedures can help empower you to explore treatment options and understand there is no one “right” path to affirming someone’s gender identity. 

Masculine Chest Contouring or Female to Male Top Surgery

Masculinizing chest contouring is a surgical procedure that reduces breast tissue and reshapes breast tissue to create a masculine-contoured chest for transgender men. Techniques include subcutaneous mastectomy and liposuction.

Chest Feminization or Male-to-Female Top Surgery

Breast augmentation procedures using saline or silicone breast implants can be used for male-to-female top surgery, giving transgender women the natural appearance of a fuller, more feminine breast profile.

Facial Masculinization

Facial masculinization procedures involve surgical alterations to create more masculine facial features, such as cheek and forehead augmentation for sharper contours; chin and jaw reshaping to widen and square the lower face; rhinoplasty to alter the nose; and thyroid cartilage enhancement to develop the appearance of Adam’s apple. Each patient’s personalized treatment plan is tailored to align the revised facial features with the affirmed male gender identity.

male face surgery markersFacial Feminization

Facial feminization surgery includes procedures that support a male-to-female (mtf) gender transition. These might consist of blepharoplasty to open the eyes, cheek augmentation to add volume, brow lift to reshape flatter brows into arches, and a facelift to smooth skin and contour the face and neck. Facial feminization can also include reshaping the lip, nose, and hairline, a tracheal shave to reduce the Adam's apple, and fillers or Botox to add volume and relax muscles. Each patient’s personalized treatment plan is tailored to align the revised facial features with the affirmed female gender identity.

Bottom Surgery


A hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus and sometimes the ovaries and cervix. For transgender men seeking to transition, a hysterectomy is often pursued to help align their internal reproductive anatomy with their male gender identity.

Though it is a major surgery, a hysterectomy provides important psychological and emotional benefits for many transgender men in their transition. It is a personal decision, and there are also options like endometrial ablation that stop periods but don't remove organs. 


Vaginectomy is the surgical removal of the vagina. For some transgender men, removing the vagina can help minimize gender dysphoria and align their genital anatomy with their male gender identity. During a vaginectomy, the vaginal canal is removed through surgical incisions. The vulva and labia structures may remain intact. For transgender women, a vaginectomy is a transition-related procedure that can provide psychological relief and affirm their gender.

Other words to know when talking to a doctor about transgender care

Gender identity encompasses a spectrum much more comprehensive than the male-female binary. There are many ways individuals experience, show, and affirm their gender. For those whose identity differs from the sex assigned at birth, transitioning allows them to live more genuinely, and we can support their well-being by using their appropriate and preferred terms. 

Assigned male or female at birth - The sex designation recorded on a person's birth certificate based on external anatomy. This may or may not match someone's gender identity.

Intersex - The term for having biological attributes that are not strictly male or female, which occurs naturally during fetal development

Transition - The process of affirming one's gender socially and/or medically if it differs from the sex assigned at birth. This may include changing their name, style of dress, hormone therapy, or gender-affirming surgery.

Trans man or transgender man - A term for someone assigned female at birth who identifies as a man

Trans woman or transgender woman - A term for someone assigned male at birth who identifies as a woman

Transgender terms to avoid

The most respectful approach is to use the terms transgender people use to describe themselves and their experiences. When in doubt, just ask. 

Below are some transgender terms that should be avoided:

Transsexual - An outdated term previously used to refer to someone who has transitioned through medical interventions like hormones and surgeries.

Transgenders - Using transgender as a noun is generally viewed as dehumanizing. Better to say transgender people/person.

Transgendered - Adding -ed implies something happened to someone to make them transgender, when it is an innate identity. 

Sex change, pre/post-operative - Avoid these terms, which reduce a transgender person to their anatomy. Better to say gender affirmation surgery/procedures.

Birth name, real name, biological name - Referring to the name someone used before transitioning this way, invalidating their identity. Always use their chosen name.

Transvestite - An outdated, stigmatizing term, often with sexual connotations. Use transgender instead.

Biological sex — It is more acceptable to say “sex assigned at birth” rather than biological sex, which conflates sex and gender.

Reshaping Your Future: Finding a Trustworthy Gender Reassignment Surgeon in New Jersey

At the Institute for Advanced Reconstructive Surgery, our world-class board-certified surgeons provide exceptional, compassionate surgical care to the LGBTQ+ community. We proudly support trans individuals seeking gender-affirming procedures, and our highly skilled staff is dedicated to achieving optimal outcomes in a welcoming, judgment-free environment. 

Our experienced medical team offers the full spectrum of masculinizing, feminizing, and gender-affirming surgical services. Use the link below to learn more about our procedures, meet our LGBTQ-affirming staff, and take the first step towards becoming your true self.