Section Title

Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation

The more you understand biological sex, gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation, the more you may understand yourself and other people, and how we relate to each other. Whereas biological sex refers to attributes such as anatomy, chromosomes, and hormones that inform whether a person is assigned at birth as male, female, or intersex, gender identity refers to one's innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend of both, or neither. Gender expression is the external appearance of one's gender identity, usually expressed 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. It is important to understand that each person has the right to decide what to call their gender identity, and that they're the only one who can do that.

There are many terms used to describe gender identity including:

  1. Trans man/transgender man/female-to-male (FTM) (noun) – A transgender person whose gender identity is male may use these terms to describe themselves. Some will just use the term man.

  2. Trans woman/transgender woman/male-to-female (MTF) (noun) – A transgender person whose gender identity is female may use these terms to describe themselves. Some will just use the term woman.

One's gender identity does not imply a specific sexual orientation. Sexual orientation describes the type of sexual, romantic, and/or physical attraction someone feels toward others.

Terms often used to describe sexual orientation include:

Other important terms to know: 

Terms and definitions change frequently; we will try to update this list to keep up with changing language.

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