Gender identity is the term used by people to describe how a person feels internally about their own gender. For example, a person’s gender identity might mean whether they identify as a man, a woman, or something completly different.

While 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, the reality for a huge amount of LGBT 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 LGBT people identify as different genders at different stages in their lives and this is perfectly acceptable. Here’s the FS crash course in gender identity for LGBT people.




Androgynous

This is the term used to describe people who express their gender with a mixture of masculine and feminine traits. They may be either transgender or cisgender.

Agender

A person who does not identify with any gender.

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 This is an outdated belief that doesn’t account for the vast range of ways that people experience gender as somewhere between man and woman, or on a completely different scale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.

Binary sex

This is the belief that there are strictly only two sets of sex characteristics; “male” and “female”. While many people may only have either male or female sex characteristics, there are also many people that will have a combination of both male and female sexual characteristics - and this is absolutely fine.

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.

Cissexism

This is the assumption that everybody is naturally cisgender, and that it is somehow unusual, out of the norm, or deviant to identify as anything else.

Cross-dressing

Cross-dressing is the practice of wearing clothes that aren’t traditionally associated with the gender you identify with. For example, someone who identifies as a man, wearing clothes that are traditionally considered to be female.

Drag king

Someone who performs hyper-exaggerated masculine traits for the sake of art or entertainment, usually at a show or theatre. Usually, the performer identifies as a woman, but does not necessarily have to.

Drag queen

Someone who performs hyper-exaggerated feminine traits for the sake of art or entertainment, usually at a show or theatre. Usually, the performer identifies as a man, but does not necessarily have to.

Female

A person with a specific set of physical and biological traits, such as a vagina, a womb, breasts and a higher level of oestrogen.

FTM

This stands for Female to Male. This term is used to describe a transgender person who were assigned a female gender at birth, and now identifies as male.

Gender dysphoria

This term is used to describe the deep discontent and anxiety someone feels when they are living their lives as a gender they don’t identify with. Not all transgender people experience dysphoria, and it is possible to be transgender without feeling dysphoria. 

Gender expression

How someone presents their gender externally, through things like clothes, appearance and behaviour.

Gender identity

Someone’s internal perception of their gender - how they feel inside about their gender.

Gender reassignment surgery

A medical procedure that transitions a person’s biological sex from one sex to another. It is often incorrectly referred to as a “sex change”.

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.

Intersex

This is the term used to describe someone with both male and female sex characteristics. An intersex person may identify as a man, a woman, or as something else, and it doesn’t necessarily affect their gender identity.

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.

MTF

This stands for Male to Female. This term is used to describe a transgender person who were assigned a male gender at birth, and now identifies as female.

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.

Transitioning

The process of transitioning from one sex or gender to another. This can be done by dressing in different clothes, changing the way you talk, using make up, changing your hair, changing your name, taking hormones, or surgery. Transitioning does not always involve all of these steps and is ultimately up to how an individual feels about it themselves.

Transphobia

This is the prejudice and discrimination that transgender people are faced with.

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 transexual 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.

Trans-woman

A person who was assigned a male sex at birth, who now identifies as a woman.


SUPPORT

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