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Gender and Gender Identity Terms

Gender: Is a broad term that encompasses a range of characteristics including physical characteristics, as well as roles, conduct and presentation, and how those elements are perceived by society.

Gender Identity: Is linked to a person’s sense of self, and the sense of being a man, a woman, both or neither. Gender identity is how a person identifies and may, or may not, be aligned with their sex assigned at birth. Gender expression is how a person presents their gender, through things like dress and mannerisms. Gender identity and gender expression are both elements of one’s gender.

Agender: A term used to describe a person who does not identify with any gender.

Non-Binary: A term used to describe a person whose gender exists outside of, or between, the gender binary of man and woman. The term can be used solely to describe one’s gender and it can also be used as an umbrella term or a continuum or spectrum for identities and expressions (i.e., agender, genderqueer, bigender, non-binary, gender fluid, etc.). The term is based on the rejection of the gender binary’s assumption that gender is strictly an either/or option of man or woman, based on sex (male/female) assigned at birth.

Gender-Fluid: A term used to describe a person who experiences gender fluidly, identifying with different genders at different times.

Gender Non-Conforming: A term used to describe a person who does not conform to society’s expectations for their gender roles or gender expression.

Gender Questioning: A term used to describe a person who is in the process of deciding which gender identity suits them best, if any.

Genderqueer: A term used to describe a person who does not follow gender stereotypes based on the sex they were assigned at birth. They may identify and express themselves by any number of different identities such as “feminine men” or “masculine women” or as androgynous, outside of the categories “boy/man” and “girl/woman.” Genderqueer can also be an umbrella term for individuals with non-binary gender identities.

Queer: A term used to describe a person whose sexual orientation is not exclusively heterosexual (e.g., queer person, queer woman). Typically, for those who identify as queer, the terms lesbian, gay, and bisexual are perceived to be too limiting and/or burdened with cultural connotations they feel do not apply to them.

Two-Spirit: A term traditionally used in Indigenous cultures, that describes a spiritual identity, having masculine and feminine characteristics, and/or a specific role within traditional societies, as mediators, keepers of certain ceremonies, or middle gender(s). An Indigenous person does not have to identify with one of the other identities in the LGBTQI+ initialism to be two-spirit. Two-spirit individuals existed prior to colonization and held unique roles within their respective communities.

Transgender Man or Woman or Another Gender: A term used to describe a person whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. The term transgender is not indicative of gender expression, sexual orientation, hormonal makeup, physical anatomy, or how one is perceived in daily life.

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