Gender Definitions

AFAB – assigned female at birth

Androgyne – is a person appearing and identifying as neither man nor woman, presenting a gender either mixed or neutral.

Butch – often refers to a lesbian (but can be used for a gay man) who exhibits masculine traits.

Cisgender – complementing Transgender, a Cisgender person identifies as someone who feels that their gender assigned at birth, their body, and their personal identity all match.

Crossdresser – is a polite term for a transvestite.

Drag King – is usually a female who dresses (or “drags”) in masculine clothes. Drag kings often perform as exaggeratedly macho male characters or impersonate male celebrities like Elvis.

Drag Queen – is usually a man who dresses (or “drags”) in female clothes and make-up, and is often (though not always) gay.

Dyke – is a slang term for a lesbian. Originally it was a derogatory label for a masculine or butch woman, and this usage still exists. However, it has also been reappropriated as a positive term implying assertiveness and toughness, or simply as a neutral synonym for lesbian.

Female-to-Male Transsexual FTM, F2M, F->M – is someone who was born female and transitions to a male gender identity.

Femme – usually refers to lesbians (but can be used occasionally for gay men) who exhibit feminine traits.

Gender – refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women.

Gender Blind – see Pansexuality

Gender Dysphoria – a medical condition in which a person’s sex and gender identity are not aligned. In 2007, the condition was said to affect one in 500 people, but before that it was said to affect one in 1,000, and before that one in 30,000. Many used to consider it a mental disorder.

Gender Expression – how a person behaves, appears or presents oneself with regard to societal expectations of gender.

Gender Identity – the gender that a person claims for oneself, which may or may not align with his or her gender assigned at birth. It is how you see yourself socially: man, woman, or a combination of both. One may have a penis but prefer to relate socially as a woman, or one may have a vagina but prefer to relate as a man. One might prefer to be fluid, relating sometimes as a man and sometimes as a woman. Or one might not identify as either one, relating androgynously.

Gender Non-Conforming Children – A child’s style of expression is considered gender non-conforming when it consistently falls outside of what is considered ‘normal’ for their assigned biological sex. This may be indicated by choices in games, clothing, and playmates. For example, a boy who wants to take ballet, wear pink, and play primarily with girls is gender non-conforming. Gender non-conforming children may become gender normative over time or their style of expression may continue to defy gender expectations as adults. Some of these children grow up to be gay, lesbian or bisexual and some grow up to be heterosexual. Some of these children are or will become transgender .

Genderqueer – is a term for people who feel that their gender identities or gender expression do not correspond to the gender assigned to them at birth, but who do not want to transition to the “opposite” gender OR a person born with male, female or intersex physiology, choosing to identify as genderqueer rather than male or female. For more information, please click here.

Heterosexism – refers to the system of beliefs and practices that exclude and demean those who are, or are perceived to be, same-sex oriented. Heterosexism includes the promotion by individuals and/or institutions of the superiority of heterosexuality over all other orientations. Heterosexist beliefs include the assumption that everyone should be heterosexual; that everyone is heterosexual, unless known to be otherwise; and that non-heterosexuals are unnatural. Heterosexism can be intentional or unintentional. Like other forms of discrimination, it is often invisible to those who are not its targets.

Homophobia – is the term often used to describe personal forms of heterosexism, including verbal and physical abuse. Some find the roots of the term (the irrational fear of same-sex oriented people or feelings) useful in addressing heterosexist attitudes. However, others prefer to use the more inclusive term, heterosexism, to describe all forms of discrimination against lesbians, two-spirited people, gay men and bisexuals.

Intersex – describes those who are born with mixed sex characteristics. They may have some sex/reproductive organs associated with both female and male sexes; or they may have other discrepancies among chromosomal or hormonal markers of sex. Typically physicians decide at birth which “sex” is more surgically or aesthetically viable. The assigned gender may, or may not, match the person’s gender identity. Many intersex people are angry that these decisions were made without their awareness or consent, and for, essentially, cosmetic purposes. Intersex activists wish to prevent this from happening to other infants and children.

Male-to-female Transsexual MTF, M2F, M->F – is someone who was born male and transitions to a female gender identity.

Pansexual – sexual attraction, sexual desire, romantic love or emotional attraction toward persons of all gender identities and biological sexes.

Pansexuality – a sexual orientation sometimes referred to as gender-blind, meaning that gender and sex are insignificant or irrelevant in determining whether they will be sexually attracted to others.

Queer – Historically the term has been used to denigrate sexual and gender minorities but more recently it has been reclaimed by these groups and is increasingly used as an expression of pride. Queer can be a convenient, inclusive term when referring to issues and experiences of GLBT’s. Because it is still used to demean lesbian, gay, bisexual, two-spirit and trans people, those who do not identify as queer are urged to use the term with caution, or not at all.

Sex – Refers to the biological and physiological characteristics that define men and women.

Sexual Identity – is how you see yourself physically: male, female, or in between. If someone is born female, but wishes to see their body as male in all respects, their sexual identity is male. It is generally rude to speak of such a person as female, since it denies their right to inhabit the social and physical role of their choosing. We call such a person a transsexual, whether or not they have had any surgery. Many FTM transsexuals do not undergo genital surgery, often because of disappointing results or extreme cost. As surgical technique improves, this may change. Since it is healthier for these people to live in accord with their wishes and heartfelt need, we call them men, though they may have a vagina where one would expect to find a penis.

Sexual Orientation – A person’s enduring emotional, romantic, sexual and relational attraction to someone else, which is different from an innate sense of gender – i.e. it is the sex of the person you find erotically attractive: opposite (hetero), same (homo), or both (bi).

SGD – Sex and/or/Gender Diverse – is an umbrella term used primarily in Australia to replace “transgender” in a more inclusive fashion. It celebrates the diversity in sex and gender identities, rather than defining particular categories of people. The term includes intersex, transexed, transsexual, transsexual, transgender, androgynous, without sex, gender identity, and cross dressers. Other phrases that have been used in the past to label SGD people include transgender, transsexual, pan-gendered, androgynous, intersex, intergender, sistergirl, and brotherboy. (from Wikipedia)

Trans – (Transgender, Trans-identified) is an inclusive term referring to the many people who cross socially constructed gender boundaries by adopting a gender identity, presentation, or behaviour that is not typically associated with one’s assigned biological sex. This includes transsexuals, transgenderists, cross-dressers and intersexed people.

Transgenderist – is a person who lives as the gender opposite to their anatomical sex – i.e. a person with a penis living as a woman. Sexual orientation varies.

Transition – A process through which some transgender people go when they decide to live as the gender with which they identify, not the one assigned at birth. This may or may not include hormone therapy, sex-reassignment surgery and other medical components.

Transphobia – is the negative valuing and discriminatory treatment of individuals who do not conform in presentation and/or identity to conventional conceptions of gender. Lesbians, two-spirited people, gay men, bisexuals, and trans individuals are typically the targets of transphobia. Transphobia, homophobia, and sexism are closely linked and interdependent. As with any form of discrimination, transphobia can be personal or systemic; intentional or unintentional.

Transsexual – is a person whose sexual identity is opposite to their assignment at birth. Not all TS folk undergo “sex reassignment surgery” (SRS) for various reasons, including personal preference. Sexual orientation varies.

Transvestite – is a person who enjoys wearing clothes identified with the opposite gender, and who is often straight. “The most recent edition of the DSM (1994) acknowledges that some transvestites are attracted to others of the same sex and that the fetishistic aspect may diminish over time, but the clinical definition of transvestism remains a heterosexual male who has a perverse, compelling desire to dress in women’s clothing because of the erotic pleasure he derives from doing so. Because ‘transvestite’ connotes a perversion and excludes female, gay, and bisexual male cross-dressers, as well as heterosexual men who cross-dress for non-sexual reasons, the term is rejected today by many transpeople in favor of “cross-dresser.” ~ Brett Genny Beemyn, from

Two-Spirited – is a term adopted by contemporary North American Aboriginal peoples to refer to those who embody both the male and female spirit. The term is inclusive and can refer to both sexual orientation and/or gender identity or expression. Therefore, lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and heterosexual trans-people may all refer to themselves as two-spirited. Terms such as ” berdache” have a colonial origin; and “gay” and “lesbian” are, to many, Eurocentric and culturally irrelevant to Aboriginal two-spirited people.

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