List of Definitions

Biological Sex - A biological classification based on physical attributes such as sex chromosomes, hormones, internal reproductive structures, and external genitalia. At birth, it is used to identify individuals as male or female. For those whose sex is not easily categorized as male or female, see Intersex below

Gender - A socially influenced concept of identity based on the roles, behaviours, activities, and appearance that are on a spectrum from masculine to feminine.

Gender dysphoria - Feelings of in congruency (not a perfect match) between one’s physical sex and how they identify their gender (e.g. feeling male yet seeing a female in the mirror). Gender dysphoria can be mild or quite profound.

Gender expression – how a person presents his or her sense of gender to others. Gender can be expressed in many ways, such as through interests/hobbies or clothing that society associates with either masculinity or femininity.

Gender identity – A person’s internal sense or feeling of being male, female, or a blend, which may not be the same as their biological sex or how they present to others.
Since gender identity is internal, one’s gender identity is not necessarily visible to others.

Gender normative – Adhering to/Following mainstream expectations of gender, e.g. feminine for women and masculine for men.

Gender Variant – Expressing gender in ways that conflict with mainstream expectations of gender e.g. feminine boys/men and masculine girls/women. Can range from a girl who perceives herself as female engaging in typically masculine tasks or play and clothing, to a person who was born male and takes female hormones, uses a feminine name and dresses and lives as a woman.

Pronouns - The words one uses to refer to themselves (e.g. he, she, his, hers, they etc.) Please try to use the pronouns preferred by each individual.

  Subject Object Possessive
Female Pronoun She Her Her Hers Herself
Male Pronoun He Him His His Himself
Gender Neutral
Ze Hir Hir Hirs Hirself
Gender Neutral
/zee/ /here/ /here/ /heres/ /hereself/

Cisgender – Someone whose biological sex matches their gender identity. Cisgender is the opposite of transgender.

Transgender/Trans – A person whose gender identity, appearance, or expression does not fit with conventional ideas of male or female. Being transgender or transsexual does not determine any specific sexual orientation. Therefore, trans people may additionally identify as straight, gay, lesbian or bisexual depending on their attractions.

Transsexual – A person who experiences intense personal and emotional discomfort (see Gender Dysphoria) with their assigned birth sex. They may opt for various changes to physically alter their appearance to match how they see their gender. These range from simple things like hair and clothing to sex reassignment surgeries as adults. Because of its medicalized history, many transsexual people prefer the terms “transgender” or simply “trans”.

Transvestite - Individuals who regularly or occasionally wear the clothing socially assigned to a gender not their own, but are usually comfortable with their anatomy and do not wish to change it (i.e. they are not transsexuals). This term is considered derogatory by many.

Transition - The period during which a person begins to live as the gender that they identify most with, which differs from the gender role they were assigned at birth. Transitioning may include changing one’s name, taking hormones, having surgery, or changing legal documents (e.g. driver’s license, Social Security record, birth certificate) to reflect their gender identity.

FTM (or Female to Male) - A person who transitions from “female-to-male,” meaning a person who was assigned female at birth, but identifies and lives as a male. Also known as a “trans man/transgender man.”

MTF (or Male to Female) – A person who transitions from “male-to-female,” meaning a person who was assigned male at birth, but identifies and lives as a female. Also known as a “trans woman/ transgender woman.”

Intersex – A person who is born with an anatomy (genitals and/or other reproductive organs) that does not conform to expectations of distinctly male or female. In some cases it is not discovered until puberty.

Two Spirit – An Aboriginal notion of LGBT people as special and honoured based on their unique abilities to understand both male and female perspectives.

Queer – A historically negative term for homosexuality. Recently many LGBT people, especially youth, have reclaimed it as positive and inclusive of all sexual minority and gender variant people.

Genderqueer - A term used by some individuals who identify as neither entirely male nor entirely female.

Pangender - A person whose gender identity is comprised of all or many gender expressions

Androgynous - A person appearing and/or identifying as neither man nor woman, presenting a gender either mixed or neutral.

Asexual - A person who is not sexually attracted to any gender.

Cross-dresser - A term for people who dress in clothing traditionally or stereotypically worn by the other sex, but who generally have no intent to live full-time as the other gender.

Drag Queen - generally used to accurately refer to men who dress as women (often celebrity women) for the purpose of entertaining others at bars, clubs, or other events. It is also used as slang, sometimes in a derogatory manner, to refer to all transgender women.

Drag King - used to refer to women who dress as men for the purpose of entertaining others at bars, clubs, or other events.

Transphobia – Fear, ignorance, and mistreatment of people who are trans and/or gender non-conforming, which is directly related to the silence and invisibility that has historically hidden them. More specifically, Transphobia is manifested in a number of ways, including violence, harassment and discrimination of transgender or gender non-conforming individuals and their allies (partners, friends or family).

Ally - Someone who is not LGBT but who is supportive of LGBT people and their well-being. For the trans community, this can be anyone – a friend, family member, partner, community member - who advocates for and supports members of the trans community. There are several ways to be a trans ally, including helping to give voice to issues regarding trans rights and needs.

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