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Gender Dictionary

These are words that are useful for facilitators to know and be able to use fluently in activities about sexual orientation. Some of this language may be unfamiliar to you, particularly because it evolves quickly. Some will be familiar to you, but you may not have had a specific definition to use if a participant were to ask what exactly it meant. Some of these terms are not appropriate to use; the details of why are explained. Some have meanings that are very close to each other and it is not always immediately clear what the differences are. Nevertheless, it is critical to honor the language that people choose for themselves rather than assuming a term with a similar definition will work just as well.

+ (Plus)
noun

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An indicator that sometimes comes after the initialism LGBTQ to indicate additional sexual and gender identities not explicitly included in the letters LGBTQ.

Updated on 22-06-2022

Advocate
noun

A person who is cisgender and works and campaigns for the rights of trans, gender nonconforming, and genderqueer people and others who identify as a gender minority.

Updated on 10-02-2021

Agender
adjective

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A person who identifies as not having a gender; or, being without gender.

Updated on 10-11-2021

Androgynous
adjective

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A balance of the feminine and the masculine that includes aspects of both. Androgynous individuals may identify as "gender-neutral", "genderqueer", or "non-binary"

Updated on 12-11-2021

Biological sex
noun

A complex group of physical factors assigned to male, female, and intersex. The preferred term for this is “sex assigned at birth” because many people consider “biological sex” to be an offensive term.

Updated on 22-06-2022

Bottom surgery
noun

A surgical procedure that changes a person’s genitals to align them with their gender identity. Some transgender people choose to have bottom surgery, and some choose not to. Many do not have the financial resources to have surgery even though they prefer or desire it. It is never polite to ask about a person’s genitals, regardless of gender identity.

*Note to medical staff - Sometimes in a medical context it will be necessary to ask if the patient has had any gender-affirming surgical procedures, as part of an overall medical and surgical history.

Updated on 22-06-2022

Butch
noun

A masculine-expressing person; usually refers to a lesbian whose gender roles are typically categorized as masculine.

Updated on 10-02-2021

Cis normative
adjective

The assumption that cisgender people are "normal" and those who are gender minorities are not.

Updated on 22-06-2022

Cisgender
adjective

A person whose sex assigned at birth (typically “female” or “male”) is in alignment with their gender identity.

Updated on 10-02-2021

Cissexism
noun

Treating cisgender people as though they have more rights and moral authority than people who are gender minorities.

Updated on 22-06-2022

Coming out
verb

This is commonly understood as the first time that someone discloses their sexual orientation or gender identity, coming out is actually something that sexual minorities do throughout their lifetimes. For example, for some LGBTQ+-identified people, sharing details of their social lives with new coworkers often discloses their sexual orientation.

Updated on 29-06-2022

Correct gender pronoun (CGP)
noun

The pronouns (she/her/hers, he/him/his, ze/zir/zirs, they/them/theirs, etc.) that a person feels most comfortable being referred to as. Using a person’s CGP is a critical part of being respectful. They may also be referred to as preferred gender pronouns (PGP); however, this should be avoided as it implies that a person’s pronouns are merely a preference rather than a personal truth.

Updated on 22-06-2022

Cross-dresser
noun

A person who wears clothing typically assumed to belong to a different gender. In the past, this person might have been called a transvestite. This term is no longer appropriate to use, and is considered offensive.

Updated on 29-06-2022

Dead name
noun

The way some transgender people refer to the name they were given at birth. Deadnaming refers to calling trans, nonbinary, gender fluid, or other non-cis people by the name they were given at birth rather than their chosen name.

Updated on 22-06-2022

Desister
noun

A person who identified as transgender as a child but did not continue to identify as trans into adulthood.

Updated on 10-02-2021

Drag king
noun

A person who dresses as and adopts the character of a man to project a kind of exaggerated masculinity, usually for entertainment purposes.

Updated on 10-02-2021

Drag queen
noun

A person who dresses as and adopts the character of a woman to project a kind of exaggerated femininity, usually for entertainment purposes.

Updated on 10-02-2021

Estrogen
noun

A naturally occurring steroid sex hormone produced by the ovaries and, in lesser amounts, by the adrenal cortex, placenta, and testes. Estrogen promotes female secondary sexual characteristics such as breasts and body shape and regulates menses; in males, estrogen promotes sperm maturation. Some transgender people choose to take this hormone so that their bodies will be more feminine.

Updated on 22-06-2022

Gender
noun

A social construct often assumed to be aligned with aspects of biological sex, but that is far broader than biological sex. Different cultures have understood gender in dramatically different ways, with some incorporating an understanding of three or more genders.

Updated on 22-06-2022

Gender binary
noun

A categorization of gender as either male or female rather than on a spectrum. This is a harmful understanding of gender for all people because it categorizes them in ways they might not feel comfortable with.

Updated on 22-06-2022

Gender confirmation surgery
noun

A group of medical procedures that changes a person’s body to align it with their gender identity. Also called sexual reassignment surgery; most people prefer the language gender confirmation surgery.

Updated on 22-06-2022

Gender dysphoria
noun

When a person’s gender identity directly conflicts with their physical body, causing mild to extreme psychological distress. “Gender dysphoria” is a classification of mental disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV (DSM IV).

Updated on 22-06-2022

Gender expression
noun

The way(s) in which a person shares information about their gender through their hair, makeup, clothes, and other external aspects of their appearance that they have control over.

Updated on 10-02-2021

Gender fluid
adjective

A person who incorporates all genders into their identity and flows easily between them.

Updated on 22-06-2022

Gender identity
noun

A person’s internal sense of how they relate or do not relate to the social constructs that their culture associates with the sex they were assigned at birth.

Updated on 10-02-2021

Gender nonconforming
adjective

When a person’s identity does not readily fall into their culture’s understanding of what it should be given their sex assigned at birth.

Updated on 10-02-2021

Gender normative
adjective

When someone or something falls into the categories that a culture considers “normal” for a specific sex assigned at birth.

Updated on 10-02-2021

Gender norms
noun

The indicators that a culture assigns to specific sex-related biology, primarily including aspects of a person unrelated to biology, such as hobbies, personality traits, and academic models of success.

Updated on 22-06-2022

Gender, Sexuality, and Relationship Diversity (GSRD)
adjective

This describes the wide range of identities that are referred to with the term LGBTQ+, but is far more inclusive of genders and sexualities. By describing the range of identities broadly, it does not leave any identity out accidentally. It also includes relationship diversity, which refers to, for example, people who identify as polyamorous.

Updated on 10-02-2021

Genderqueer
adjective

A gender identity that describes a person who falls outside of the stereotypical “woman” or “man” binary system. This umbrella term also describes many gender identities outside of the gender binary. Genderqueer is sometimes shortened to queer. Historically, this term has been used in negative contexts. Many have reclaimed it because it is more descriptive of them and their communities and experiences than LGBTQ+ or GSRD.

Updated on 22-06-2022

Hermaphrodite
adjective

An organism that has fully developed male and female reproductive tracts. While this term was historically used to describe intersex individuals, true hermaphroditism does not occur in humans (a human reproducing as both male and female). This term is inaccurate offensive.

Updated on 22-06-2022

Hormone therapy
noun

A part of transitioning that some transgender people choose and are able to access that shifts their balance of hormones to bring them into alignment with their gender identity.

Updated on 10-02-2021

Intersex
adjective

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A sex assigned at birth and sometimes discovered after birth that indicates attributes associated with typical males and females. Historically, some people used the word hermaphrodite to describe people who were intersex, but this is not an appropriate term and is offensive.

Visit interAct Advocates for Intersex Youth for more information.

Updated on 22-06-2022

Misgender
verb

Using pronouns or other words that label a person’s gender incorrectly. This is often a painful experience for people, including trans and gender nonconforming people, especially when done by someone who is aware of their gender identity.

Updated on 10-02-2021

Name change
noun

When a person is transitioning, they often choose a new name. This can be an important part of the transitioning process and should be respected. Asking a transgender person for their “real” name (referring to the name they were given at birth) is offensive.

Updated on 22-06-2022

Niblet
noun

Also sometimes called a nibbling, this is a gender-neutral word to refer a sibling’s children.

Updated on 22-06-2022

Nonbinary
adjective

A gender identification outside of the two-gender, binary system that many cultures recognize. Some people prefer to spell the word “non-binary” and others prefer “non binary.”

Updated on 10-02-2021

Nuncle
noun

Also sometimes called an auncle, this is a gender-neutral word to refer to the siblings of your parents.

Updated on 10-02-2021

Outing
verb

When a person discloses another person’s gender identity (or sexual orientation) without their permission. Sometimes this is done accidentally, and sometimes it is done intentionally. It is never okay to out someone.

Updated on 10-02-2021

Passing
verb

When a trans person is accepted in public to be the sex that is in alignment with their gender identity rather than their sex assigned at birth. Sometimes this is a sought-after feature of transitioning, and sometimes it is not.

Updated on 22-06-2022

Persister
noun

A person who identified as transgender in childhood through adulthood.

Updated on 10-02-2021

Primary sexual characteristics
noun

Parts of the body directly related to reproduction.

Updated on 10-02-2021

Puberty
noun

A period during which an individual develops secondary sexual characteristics and often becomes fertile.

Updated on 22-06-2022

Queer
adjective

An umbrella term that describes many gender identities outside of cisgender. This term has historically been used in negative contexts but has been reclaimed by many who feel that it is more descriptive of them and their communities and experiences than the term LGBTQ+.

Updated on 10-02-2021

Questioning
verb

The experience of considering one’s own gender identity as potentially different from the one associated with one’s sex assigned at birth.

Updated on 10-02-2021

Secondary sexual characteristics
noun

Nonreproductive-related body parts or characteristics that may appear during puberty (or via medications or surgery) and are connected to sex and gender. Examples are axillary (underarm), facial, chest, and pubic hair, changes in breasts and vulva, hip size, shoulder and chest size, voice changes, and muscle mass.

Updated on 22-06-2022

Sex assigned at birth
noun

The female or male markers that are bestowed on a baby at the time of birth. Sex assigned at birth is usually determined based on an infant’s external genitalia without taking into consideration additional aspects of the infant’s biology or eventual gender identity.

Updated on 10-02-2021

T
noun

Short for testosterone.

Updated on 22-06-2022

Testosterone
noun

A naturally occurring steroid sex hormone produced by the testes and, in lesser amounts, by the adrenal cortex and ovaries. Testosterone promotes male secondary sexual characteristics such as facial hair, muscle mass, and voice depth, and influences erection frequency and libido. In females, testosterone primarily gets converted to estrogen. Some transgender people choose to take a synthetic form of testosterone so that their bodies will be more masculine.

Updated on 22-06-2022

Third gender
noun

A gender identity that is neither woman nor man. In cultures with more than two culturally accepted gender identities, this term would describe those identities.

Updated on 10-02-2021

Top surgery
noun

A surgical procedure that changes a person’s chest to align it with their gender identity. Top surgery can be expensive. Some transgender people choose to have top surgery, and some choose not to. As with bottom surgery, many do not have the financial resources to have this surgery even though they may prefer or desire it.

Updated on 22-06-2022

Transgender
adjective

A person whose gender identity is different than the culturally assumed gender identity assigned at birth. Historically the term transsexual was used, and is now considered offensive.

Updated on 22-06-2022

Transitioning
verb

A series of steps that transgender people may or may not choose to take toward shaping their physical bodies to be more in alignment with the cultural expectation associated with their gender identity. Hormone therapy and surgery are examples of steps that some people have access to during transitioning. Some people may choose to transition without incorporating either surgery or hormones into their biology. Rather, they shift their gender expression so that it is in alignment with their gender identity.

Updated on 10-02-2021

Two-spirit
adjective

A third-gender marker that is used in some Native American communities to describe a range of experiences outside of cisgender and heterosexual. It is not appropriate for people outside of these communities to use this term.

Updated on 10-02-2021
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