Guide to Gender Identities

Take a look at our concise guide and get a grip on genders

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This concise guide is a great starting point for getting to grips with gender identity.

Let's look at the basics

  • Sex 
    •  biological attributes assigned at birth based on external anatomy, eg male, female or intersex
  • Gender
    •  socially constructed roles, norms and behaviours that vary depending on culture, often categorised as male, female or nonbinary
  • Gender Identity
    • the internal sense of self and gender, not outwardly visible. For most people, their gender identity aligns with their sex however for transgender people their identity varies from assigned
  • Gender Expression
    • the outward expression of self and gender, for example, clothing, voice, behaviour
  • Gender Dysphoria
    • psychological trauma experienced as a result of a discrepancy between someone's assigned sex and gender identity
  • Sexual Orientation
    • the romantic, emotional and/or physical attraction to members of the same and/or other genders. Sexual orientation is different from gender identity, eg transgender people can be straight, gay, lesbian, queer etc

Get a Grip on Genders

  • Cisgender 
    • a term used to describe when someone's gender identity aligns with their assigned sex, eg assigned female at birth and identifying as female. Also known as cis
  • Transgender
    • a term used to describe someone when someone's gender identity differs from their assigned sex, eg assigned male at birth but identifies as female. Also known as trans
  • Nonbinary
    • a term used for someone who does not describe themselves or their gender as in line with the categories of 'man' or 'woman'. Also known as genderqueer
  • Agender
    • a term used for someone who doesn't identify as any gender
  • Gender-expansive
    • a term used for someone with a flexible gender identity
  • Gender Transition
    • the process of someone aligning themselves and/or their body with their gender identity

Be aware that this brief guide is Western-centric - gender identity varies across cultures and societies, and is not a static thing (it can change over time). For more information on gender identity, check out the useful links below:

Amnesty International

Gender Spectrum

The Trevor Project

It's important to respect someone's gender identity and pronouns to create a welcoming and inclusive environment, no matter what the setting whether it's at work, school, the pub - anywhere.

LGBTQ+ History