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Gender Identity

A term that refers to our internal sense of self as male, female, both, somewhere else on the spectrum or web of gender, or there may not be any identification with gender.  One’s gender identity may or may not differ from the gender and sex assigned at birth. 
Gender diversity is normal and healthy. Trans and gender diverse people exist in cultures throughout the world. 
Children, youth or adults may come to recognize themselves as trans or transition at any point in their lives. Having affirmative supports, such as people, schools, workplaces and communities that are accepting can play a critical role in creating safety and inclusion.
Some people may or may not explore a social transition (e.g. change of name, pronoun, clothing, hairstyle, voice/communication style, etc.) or medical transition (e.g. puberty blockers, hormones, surgeries, etc.,) as forms of gender affirmation. 
  • Sex assigned at birth – All people are assigned a sex at birth, typically based on physical characteristics such as anatomy, chromosomes and hormone levels.  
  • Gender Expression – Within society, there are cultural expectations for what is considered typical masculine or feminine expressions of gender.  These include clothing choices, hairstyles, voice, mannerisms, etc. 
Additional Terms:
  • Non-binary – A term used to describe a gender identity that is outside the binaries of male and female but rather somewhere else on the spectrum or web of gender, between those binaries  
  • Agender – A term that can be used by someone who does not identify with any particular gender, such as non-binary trans people, or by someone who does not identify with gender at all.  
  • Cisgender – A term used to describe someone whose gender identity aligns with  their assigned sex at birth. 
  • Gender Creative –  Also referred to as gender-expansive, meaning the child expresses their gender (through dress, interests, play) in ways that may not conform to social expectations for the sex they were assigned at birth.  Some, but not all, gender creative kids will be transgender.  
  • Gender Dysphoria – The term refers to a sense of distress or discomfort a person may experience when  one’s sex assigned at birth differs from  their gender identity. This distress and discomfort may be related to the lack of social and family acceptance experienced. Gender dysphoria can present in a range of mental health impacts, such as anxiety and depression. 
  • Gender Fluid – A term used to describe a movement or flow between gender identities and expressions or some combination, at any given moment, or over a period of time.
  • Genderqueer – A term used by people who experience gender identity and gender expression in a non-binary way.  The term may be used by cisgender or transgender people.
  • Gender questioning – A term used to recognize people may be still exploring and questioning their gender identity, recognizing this is okay and acceptable.  
  • Trans/Transgender – An umbrella term used to describe people who have a gender identity that differs from their assigned sex at birth.  
  • Transition – A term used to describe the steps taken to affirm someone’s gender identity.  People may take steps towards a social transition (change of name, pronouns, clothing, voice/communication style) or a medical transition if desired (puberty blockers, hormones, surgery as options). Not all trans people use the term transition.
  • Trans-feminine – A term used to describe gender identity and gender expression towards the female binary on the spectrum or web of identity.
  • Trans-masculine – A term used to describe gender identity and gender expression towards the male binary on the spectrum or web of identity.
  • Two-spirit – A term used by some Indigenous North American people to describe their experiences of sexual orientation, gender identity or spiritual identity.  Some use the term to refer to the presence of the masculine or feminine spirit, or some combination of spirits.
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Updated Aug 8, 2018