A Glossary of Terms Surrounding Gender

Language is dynamic, continually growing and changing. This is particularly true with the language we use to identify ourselves. - gayalliance.org

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This glossary is provided as a starting point for discussion and better understanding. Language is dynamic, continually growing and changing. This is particularly true with the language we use to identify ourselves. We should strive to ensure that our language does not demean, exclude or offend, by respectfully allowing others to self-identity.

Ally: A person who does not identify with a group, but still advocates for that group’s rights.

Cisgender: Someone who is comfortable with the gender they were assigned at birth. The state of not being transgender.

Cissexism: The system of advantages bestowed on people who are cisgender. It can also be the assumption that all people are, or should be, cisgender.

Crossdresser: A person who dresses in clothing deemed inappropriate by society for the gender assigned them at birth. The purpose is usually emotional comfort or erotic fulfillment.

Drag King & Drag Queen: A person who crossdresses as a means of performance or entertainment.

Gender: The range of characteristics associated with men and women and the masculine and feminine attributes assigned to them by society.

Gender Expression: The part of a person’s identity that is about expressing masculinity or femininity as influenced by society, culture, and individual expectations.

Gender Identity: The part of a person’s identity that is about their sense of self as male or female, neither, or both.

Gender Non-Conforming: A person whose behavior and/or gender expression does not conform to societal expectations.

Genderqueer: A person who does not identify as a man or woman. They might identify as both, neither, or somewhere between. Individuals may prefer other terms for themselves, like non-binary, or gender-expansive.

Intersex: A person whose biological anatomy and/or genes vary from the expected male or female anatomy and/or genetics.

Sex: The identification of the biological/physical gender most often categorized as male or female.

Trans or Trans*: An inclusive term that encourages people to remember all of the identities under the transgender umbrella, including transsexual, crossdresser, genderqueer, gender fluid, two-spirit, etc.

Transgender: In its broadest meaning, this umbrella term encompasses anyone whose self-identity, behavior, or anatomy falls outside of societal gender norms and expectations.

Transphobia: Negative feelings, attitudes, actions, or behaviors against transgender people or people received to be transgender. It may also be a fear of one’s own gender non-conformity.

Transsexual: A person whose gender identity is not congruent with their biological sex. These indidvuals may or may not pursue hormonal or surgical means to bring congruency to themselves. Some dislike this term and prefer the terms: transgender, trans, or trans*.

Two-Spirit: A Native American term for LGBTQ individuals with duel or multiple genders. It can mean having both a masculine and a feminine spirit.


This glossary was donated by the Gay Alliance of Genesee Valley. Now a global leader in education and support for the LGBTQ+ community. They can be found at gayalliance.org


The Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley is a Champion for LGBTQ Life and Culture.

We envision a future where all members of the greater Rochester LGBTQ communities, at all stages of their lives, are free to be fully participating citizens, celebrating their lives in which they are safe, stable and fully respected.

via gayalliance.org
via gayalliance.org