Glossary of Terms

Gender Identity - an identity based on one’s relationship to femininity and masculinity, especially as it relates to society and culture.

Gender Expression -how one externally presents one's gender identity through behavior, clothing, haircut or voice, and which may or may not conform to socially defined behaviors and characteristics typically associated with being either masculine or feminine.

Biological Sex - A label given at birth based on medical factors, including hormones, chromosomes, and genitals.

Assigned Gender At Birth - sometimes abbreviated to AGAB, this refers to the gender identity assumed for someone at a young age, usually based on their hormones, chromosomes, and genitals at birth. Assigned Female at Birth (AFAB), Assigned Male at Birth (AMAB) are the specific designations based on above.

Nonbinary - a term someone might use to indicate that they don’t fit into the gender categories of “male” or “female”.

Transgender - anyone who doesn’t identify with their assigned gender at birth.

Cisgender - anyone who identifies with their assigned gender at birth.

Intersex - someone born with reproductive or sexual anatomy that is typically not exclusively “male” or “female” (i.e. XXY Chromosomes).

Pronouns - a way to refer to someone without using their name. Historically these have been gendered, i.e. she/her or he/him. However, gender-neutral pronouns can include singular they/them, xe/xem, ze/hir, and more.

Sexual orientation - an identity based on the people someone is sexually and/or romantically attracted to.

Asexual - someone who experiences no sexual attraction to anyone (though they could still be romantically attracted to people).

Aromantic - someone who experiences no romantic attraction to anyone (though they still could be sexually attracted to people).

Gay - usually refers to men who are attracted to other men; is also used as an umbrella term for diverse sexualities.

Lesbian - women who are attracted to women. This may include nonbinary or transmasculine people that identify as part of the lesbian community.

Bisexual - someone attracted to their own gender and other genders.

Pansexual - someone who is attracted to people regardless of gender.

Queer - historically used as a slur, this term has been reclaimed as a broad umbrella term to describe sexual and gender identities other than straight and/or cisgender. Queer is sometimes used to express that sexuality and gender can be complicated, change over time, and might not fit neatly into either/or identities.

Heterosexual or Straight - a cisgender person being attracted exclusively to other cisgender people whose gender is different from your own.


This list of terms shows the variety of language that people can use to describe themselves; which is often evolving, therefore this list is far from complete. Terms exist so that people can reach for language that feels applicable, feel proud, and find community with others who identify the same way. The purpose is NOT to establish rigid categories that people feel excluded from or pressured to fit into. When someone says how they identify, that’s how they see themselves. It’s everyone’s job to take that identity seriously and with respect. 

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