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Gender Identity Definitions

In the LGBTQI+ community, identity and self-expression are important. The "plus" in LGBTQI+ represents a growing list of other identifying terms others in the community may use in addition or alternatively to LGBTQ. Learning about and using the terms below may help you understand your own identity or how others define themselves.

It's important to understand your inner feelings about gender, because every person's gender identity and situation is unique. It's literally part of who you are!

LGBTQI+ Terms and Definitions

Find definitions and explanations below about gender identity and the different ways people express it.

Assigned sex at birth

  • When a baby is born, they are examined to determine their sex, or assigned their sex at birth. This is sometimes confused with gender identity.

Biological sex

  • Biological sex refers to the physical attributes that define someone as biologically male or biologically female.

Cisgender

  • Cisgender describes a person whose gender identity matches their sex assigned at birth.

Gender binary

  • The gender binary is the concept that there are only two genders, male and female, and that those classifications determine how a person should act, dress, or express themselves based on their assigned sex.

Gender expression

  • Gender expression refers to how a person expresses their identity through appearance and/or behavior.

Gender identity

  • Gender identity is how a person feels inside about their gender, and how they want to express themselves. A person's gender identity may or may not correspond with their assigned sex and the behaviors typically associated with a person who is male or a person who is female.

Genderqueer/Non-binary

  • Genderqueer and/or non-binary describes gender identities that are not exclusively male nor female, and a genderqueer or non-binary person's identity may fall somewhere between male or female gender expression.

Intersex

  • Intersex people are born with physical or chromosomal characteristics that do not fit the standard definitions of male or female. A person who is intersex may identify as any gender or any sexual orientation.

Sexual orientation

  • Sexual orientation describes romantic or physical attraction to another person.

Transgender

  • Transgender describes a person whose gender identity does not match their sex assigned at birth. Some transgender people wish to physically transition, which may include gender-affirming surgery or hormone therapy.