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Non-op is a descriptive term for any transgender person who does not want gender confirmation surgery. It is an alternative to the descriptive terms for transgender individuals who do want gender confirmation surgery. Pre-op (for transgender people who haven’t yet had gender confirmation surgery) and post-op (for transgender people who have had gender confirmation surgery).
The term non-op is a shortened form of the adjective non-operative. This term is sometimes used in place of non-op. Non-op transgender people are sometimes called transgenderists.
Transgender individuals may be non-op for several reasons. Some transgender people may be comfortable in their own bodies and not wish to change them in any way. Others are happy with a social gender transition, where they simply dress and otherwise present in line with their gender identity. This may or may not involve taking hormones which help the body, voice, and other characteristics appear more in line with the person’s gender identity.
Transgender people may be non-op for a variety of reasons. Finances can be a substantial barrier to gender confirmation surgery and enough to deter many transgender people. Others are truly comfortable with their own bodies, even if they don’t match their gender identity. Some transgender people may not be good candidates for gender confirmation surgery due to age, ill health, or psychological issues.
While non-op transgender people do not have gender confirmation surgery, they may have other surgeries that help them align to their true gender identities. These include breast augmentation and castration.
The term non-op helps make visible a large part of the transgender community which does not fall into the more recognizable categories of pre-op and post-op. A lack of visibility isn’t the only thing non-op transgender people struggle with. Non-op people may not easily be able to legally change their genders because many authorities require applicants to have bottom surgery as a bare minimum. They may also struggle for acceptance in a community where so many people elect to have gender confirmation surgery.