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Posted on May 5, 2016


We all have a gender identity that is separate and unique from our sex, which are unrelated to our sexual orientation.

Sex: The medical classification of people as male, female or intersex. Sex characteristics include chromosomes, hormones, secondary sex characteristics, and other aspects of the body.

Gender identity: A person’s internal and individual experience of gender. This is a person’s sense of being a woman, a man, both, neither or anywhere on the gender spectrum. This sense of self is separate from sex assigned at birth and is not related to sexual orientation. Gender identity is internal; it is not necessarily visible to others.

Sexual orientation: A person’s physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction to another person. This can include straight, gay, lesbian, pansexual, bisexual, asexual, queer, questioning, etc.

For example, AnnaLise would say: I am a female (sex) who identifies as a woman (gender) [thus cisgender] who is queer (sexual orientation).

Cisgender is used for people whose gender identity is in alignment with the sex assigned to them at birth. (Cis meaning “in alignment with” or “on the same side”). The prefixes cis and trans work together as umbrella terms to classify all gender identities, so no identity is normalized. To be used as an adjective.

Trans is an umbrella term that describes people with diverse gender identities and gender expressions that do not conform to stereotypical ideas about what it means to be a girl/woman or boy/man in society. “Trans” can mean transcending beyond, existing between, or crossing over the gender spectrum. It includes, but is not limited to, people who identify as transgender, transsexual, cross-dressers, or gender non-conforming (gender variant or genderqueer).

Many folks choose to use the terms ‘gender queer’, ‘gender non-conforming’, and ‘gender non-binary’ to highlight how gender is a spectrum. There are not two categories for gender identity (eg man or woman), it is a spectrum. In fact sex and sexual orientation are also a spectrum.