A person's gender is one of the most basic parts of their identity. It is more than the sex assigned to them at birth. Gender is how a person feels and expresses themselves. It can influence, and be influenced, by many things. It can change over time.
Defining Basic Gender Terms
The following terms and definitions are commonly used to differentiate between various aspects of gender identity:
- Sex - The classification of people as male or female, typically assigned at birth based on the appearance of external anatomy.
- Gender - The socially constructed roles and behaviors that a society typically associates with males and females.
- Gender identity - A person's internal sense of self, which can be male, female, both, neither or something else.
- Gender expression - How a person presents their gender to others through clothing, hairstyle, voice and mannerisms.
- Cisgender - When a person's assigned sex at birth corresponds with their gender identity and expression.
- Gender nonconforming - When a person's gender expression does not correspond with the appearance or behaviors of a stereotypical male or female. Not all gender non-conforming people identity as transgender, and not all transgender people are gender non-conforming.
- Agender - When a person doesn't have a specific gender identity.
- Bigender - When a person has two gender identities.
- Genderqueer - When a person identifies with both genders, no gender or a combination of the stereotypical male and female characteristics.
- Transgender - An umbrella term describing when a person's gender identity is different than what society expects based on the person's sex assigned at birth.
- Transgender woman - A person who was assigned male at birth, but identifies and expresses their gender as female. Sometimes shortened to trans woman.
- Transgender man - A person who was assigned female at birth, but identifies and expresses their gender as male. Sometimes shortened to trans man.
- Gender-expansive - When a person's identity or behavior is broader than the commonly held definitions of gender and gender expression in one or more aspects of their life. They may not identify with being either male or female, or may identify as a combination of both or they might express their gender in a different way.
- Gender-fluid - When a person has a flexible gender identity and expression that can fluctuate by the hour, day, or longer interval of time.
- Gender dysphoria - An emotional and psychological condition experienced when a person's gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth.
- Gender confirmation surgery or sex reassignment surgery - A treatment for gender dysphoria which changes the physical appearance and function of a person's genitals to bring them into alignment with their gender identity.
- Intersex - A general term covering a variety of conditions in which a person's sex characteristics - including chromosomes, gonads or genitals - are not distinct to either a male or female.
Communication about gender can be clearer if the various terms are understood and correctly used.