Gender Identity/Expression and Sexual Orientation Resource Center

Terms and Definitions

Sex

A biological term dividing a species into male or female, usually on the basis of chromosomes (XX = female, XY = male). Hormone levels, secondary sex characteristics, and internal and external genitalia may also be considered criteria.

Gender

A sociological construct (usually taught as a binary) defining the collection of characteristics that are culturally associated with maleness or femaleness; masculine and feminine constitute this.

Gender Identity

One’s internal sense of being a man, woman, neither of these, both, or other gender(s).

Gender Expression

External manifestation of one’s gender identity, usually expressed through clothing, haircut, voice, or body characteristics.

Cisgender

A term for someone who identifies with the sex they were assigned at birth.

Transgender

An umbrella term for those individuals whose gender identity does not match with that assigned for their physical sex. Importantly, this term does not tell us anything about someone’s sexual orientation.

Transsexual

A term used to describe a person who identifies psychologically as a gender/sex other than the one to which they were assigned at birth. This individual may use hormones and/or surgery to help their physical body match their inner sense of gender/sex.

Crossdresser

A term used to describe an individual, regardless of sexual orientation, who chooses to dress in the “opposite” gender clothing.

Sexual Orientation

A person’s physical, romantic, emotional, aesthetic, and/or other form of attraction to others.

Queer

(1) An umbrella term sometimes used by LGBTQA people to refer to the entire LGBTQA community. (2) An term that some people use to push back against the idea of labels and categories. (3) An in-group term that can be empowering for some but offensive to others.

Bisexual

Someone who is attracted to both men and women. A person who experiences sexual, romantic, physical, and/or spiritual attraction to people of their own gender as well as another gender.

Pansexual

A person who experiences sexual, romantic, physical, and/or spiritual attraction for members of all gender identities/expressions or biological sex.

Intersex

A general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male.

Asexual

Someone who does not experience sexual attraction. There is considerable diversity in this community; each individual experiences things like relationships, attraction, and arousal somewhat differently.

Ally

A term used to describe someone who acknowledges and appreciates differences in people and groups. This is someone who is a safe and open person to talk to and someone who is willing to stand up for the rights and well-being of others.