Gender identity is the term used to describe how a person feels internally about their own gender and is a spectrum. For example, a person’s gender identity might mean they identify as a man, a woman, nonbinary, or something completely different. Gender identity is distinct from gender expression, which is how someone presents their gender externally, through things like clothes, appearance and behaviour.

Many LGBT people are brought up to believe that the only two things that anyone can be are a man or a woman, male or female, but the reality for a huge amount of LGBTQ+ people is much less clear-cut than that.

If you feel a bit confused by all this, don’t worry. If you’ve grown up thinking about gender in a certain way, it’s natural to feel confused to learn that it may be more complex than you’d previously thought. It's 100% OK to question your gender or be unsure about what your gender is. Many LGBTQ+ people identify as different genders at different stages in their lives and this is perfectly acceptable. Here’s the LGBT HERO crash course in gender identity for LGBT people.

 





Agender

An umbrella term encompassing many different genders of people who commonly do not have a gender and/or have a gender that they describe as neutral. Many agender people are trans. As a new and quickly-evolving term, it is best you ask how someone defines agender for themselves.

Bigender

This is someone who identifies as two genders. These genders may be male and female, but may also be, for example, female and agender, or male and agender.

Binary gender

This is the traditional belief that there are only two real genders: “man” and “woman.” This is an outdated belief that doesn’t account for the vast range of ways that people experience gender as somewhere between man and woman, or on a completely different scale altogether.

Cisgender

Being cisgender means your sex and gender very clearly match up. For example, people who were assigned male at birth and grow up to identify as a man.

Cis-man

A person who identifies as a man, has male biological sex characteristics, and was assigned a male sex at birth.

Cis-woman

A person who identifies as a woman, has female biological sex characteristics, and was assigned a female sex at birth.

Gender-fluid

Gender-fluid refers to a person who does not identify themselves as having a fixed gender.

Gender identity

Gender identity is a spectrum. It refers to someone’s internal perception of their gender - how they feel inside about their gender.

Gender non-conforming

A broad term referring to people who do not behave in a way that conforms to the traditional expectations of their gender, or whose gender expression does not fit neatly into a category.

Genderqueer

A term that can be used to describe people whose gender falls outside of the gender binary. It might be used to describe a person who identifies as multiple genders, or no genders.

LGBTQIA+

LGBTQIA+ is a commonly used acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, Intersex or Asexual. The + sign is to signify other categories of gender and sexual orientation that aren’t accurately described by these terms.

Nonbinary

Nonbinary describes a person who does not identify exclusively as a man or a woman and can be a specific identity or an umbrella term. Nonbinary people may identify as being both a man and a woman, somewhere in between, or as falling completely outside these categories. While many also identify as transgender, not all non-binary people do.

Transgender

An umbrella term for anyone whose gender identity or gender expression is different from the biological sex they were assigned at birth.

Trans

A commonly used shorthand version of transgender.

Transsexual

This is a term that is used to describe someone who has medically or surgically transitioned from one sex to another. Some people find this term offensive, due its medical history. Furthermore, after medically transitioning, many people cease to identify as transsexual or transgender, and simply identify as a woman or a man. It’s best to avoid this term, unless you meet someone who uses it to describe themselves.

Trans-man

A person who was assigned a female sex at birth, who now identifies as a man. This individual may or may not actively identify as trans. Many trans individuals prefer a space between trans and man. Other do not. Often it is good just to use man.

Trans-woman

A person who was assigned a male sex at birth, who now identifies as a woman. This individual may or may not actively identify as trans. Many trans individuals prefer a space between trans and woman. Other do not. Often it is good just to use woman.

Two Spirit

An umbrella term for various indigenous gender identities in North America.

Support

For more information about gender, or if you'd like to speak to a professional about gender, visit www.genderedintelligence.co.uk.