Inspired by this question on CSE I am asking is there a term to describe a transgender individual who chooses not to physically transition to how they identify?

Lots of terminology is offered in this Wikipedia page for example:

Passing, transitioning, going stealth, going full time, social transitioning.

So is there an easy way of saying that one is resisting transition for the sake of not alienating friends and family?

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    This isn't really a question about English, even though the word(s) you come up with may be in English. It's probably a term of art of the LGBTQ+ community.
    – Robusto
    Oct 1, 2019 at 18:25
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    @Robusto all of the words and terminology suggested by LGBTQ+ community necessarily become English language and usage terms.
    – Kris
    Oct 1, 2019 at 19:31
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    Maybe they do, and maybe they don't. It's going to be too early to tell for quite some time, which is why I would confine them for the present to terms of art.
    – Robusto
    Oct 1, 2019 at 19:42
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    @DavidM: A "term of art" is merely a word that has a particular meaning in a particular context. I think that applies here.
    – Robusto
    Oct 1, 2019 at 19:47
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    I thought this kind of concealment was called being in the closet. The reason or reasons are many and diverse, and are unlikely to combine with the condition or circumstance to produce a single word.
    – Xanne
    Oct 2, 2019 at 0:39

2 Answers 2


You may be looking for the term non-op, as defined by the Gender Wiki as:

Non-op refers to those who do not wish to have gender confirmation surgery.

(Compare pre-op and post-op.)

However, non-op still includes some people who physically alter themselves through other means, such as hormones or binding.

  • Thanks for addressing the question. Gender wiki lists a few reasons one may be non-op. Could I assume that one may be non op for reasons such as not wanting to alienate family and friends? Non op for religious reasons?
    – Kris
    Oct 1, 2019 at 23:59

Transgender person still describes these people rather nicely.

If you wish to state that they have not yet disclosed their identify to the world at large, you'd call them closeted or in the closet.

Closeted and in the closet are adjectives for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender etc. (LGBTQ+) people who have not disclosed their sexual orientation or gender identity and aspects thereof, including sexual identity and sexual behavior. It can also be used to describe anyone who is hiding part of their identity because of social pressure.

The decision to transition physically is not what makes them transgender, but rather the personal feeling that their biological gender is not their gender identity. Many transgender people will never choose to make a transition.

Some choose to use the term transexual for those who have (or wish to) transition physically, but there is some disagreement on this nomenclature.

As an aside which is off-topic to the OP's question, but is always worth addressing in these types of questions.

When it comes to matters of gender identity, sexual identity/orientation, name, ethnicity, or any other matter of personal identity I use the following rule:

I'll call you whatever you wish to be called.

I think that most people would welcome the question if it's asked in a respectful manner.

The use of pronouns is a minefield all its own.

When speaking to someone, this is rarely an issue, as you is ungendered in English. But, we frequently need to speak about someone, often in his or her presence.

Third party pronouns are more complex. Some people prefer to be called by their identity, some prefer to be called by their outward appearance (and this can change with things like transvestitism), and yet others prefer genderless pronouns (Shim, sher, etc. etc.). Using they seems like an awkward appropriation of the plural.

Here too, I repeat the advice of inquiring as to a person's preference.

If you are unable to ask someone about their preference, writing about a historical figure for example, then I'd recommend going with their outward appearance.

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    What I find weird in all this is the pronoun thing. the idea that someone can tell me how to address them when I am talking about them and not to them. No one ever seems to point that out. The only way to address someone directly in English is "you". What have I missed?
    – Lambie
    Oct 1, 2019 at 18:43
  • @Lambie See my edit. I feel that I've addressed this.
    – David M
    Oct 1, 2019 at 19:36
  • The question is asking for a term that a transgender person would use for their situation of internally identifying as other than birth gender but determining not to transition because they do not wish to have others view them differently. It is not asking how others should address transgender persons.
    – Kris
    Oct 2, 2019 at 13:33
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    @Kris you'd still call them transgender. If they're in the closet about it, you'd say that. Closeted is the term that most of the LBGTQ+ community uses. My point in the post was that regardless of whether or not you've chosen to transition you're still what you are. How to refer to people includes how to address them.
    – David M
    Oct 2, 2019 at 13:37
  • @Kris Edited to reflect my comment.
    – David M
    Oct 2, 2019 at 13:46

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