Gender/Sexuality Definitions

Gender Identity:

  • Refers to a person’s internal, deeply-felt sense of being either male, female, something other, or in between. Everyone has a gender identity.

Gender Expression:

  • Refers to an individual’s characteristics and behaviors such as appearance, dress, mannerisms, speech patterns, and social interactions that are perceived as masculine or feminine.


  • An umbrella term that can be used to describe people whose gender expression is non-conforming and/or whose gender identity is different from their birth assigned gender.


  • A term most commonly used to refer to someone who transitions from one gender to another. It includes individuals who were identified as male at birth but whose gender identity is female, individuals who were identified as female at birth but whose gender identity is male, and individuals whose gender identity is neither male or female. Transition often consists of a change in style of dress, selection of a new name, and a request that people use the correct pronoun when describing them. Transition may, but does not always, include necessary medical care like hormone therapy, counseling, and/or surgery.


  • A variation in sex characteristics including chromosomes, gonads, or genitals that do not allow an individual to be distinctly one gender.

Gender Non-Conforming:

  • Refers to a person who is or is perceived to have gender characteristics and/or behaviors that do not conform to traditional or societal expectations. Gender non-conforming people may or may not identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, or asexual.


  • Refers to people who do not identify as, or who do not express themselves as completely one gender. Genderqueer people may or may not identify as transgender or transsexual.

Sexual orientation:

  • Refers to a person’s emotional and sexual attraction to other people based on the gender of the other person. A person may identify their sexual orientation as heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, asexual, or something else. It is important to understand that sexual orientation and gender identity are two different things. Not all transgender people identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, or asexual. Not all gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, or asexual people display gender non-conforming characteristics.


  • An umbrella term that stands for  “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer,  intersex, and asexual.”

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