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Gender terms and definitions

Understanding the vocabulary around transgender issues

Sources: GLAAD media reference guide; PAUSD LGBTQQ committee; Associated Press

Transgender: People whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from their sex at birth.

Gender dysphoria: In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association released the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) which replaced "gender identity disorder" with "gender dysphoria," and changed the criteria for diagnosis. APA states that in order for a person to be diagnosed with gender dysphoria, there must be a "marked difference between the individual's expressed/experienced gender and the gender others would assign him or her, and it must continue for at least six months. In children, the desire to be of the other gender must be present and verbalized. This condition causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning."

Gender expression: External manifestations of gender, expressed through one's name, pronouns, clothing, haircut, behavior, voice or body characteristics.

Gender identity: One's internal, deeply held sense of one's gender.

Genderqueer: A term used by some people who experience their gender identity and/or gender expression as falling outside the categories of man and woman. They may define their gender as somewhere in between man and woman, or they may define it as wholly different from these terms. The term is not a synonym for transgender or transsexual and should only be used if someone self-identifies as genderqueer.

Gender-fluid: An individual whose gender identity shifts between male, female and mixed gender.

Gender non-conforming: Individuals whose gender expression is different from conventional notions of masculinity and femininity. Not all gender non-conforming people identify as transgender; nor are all transgender people gender non-conforming. The term is not a synonym for transgender or transsexual and should only be used if someone self-identifies as gender non-conforming.

Sexual orientation: An individual's physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction to another person. Gender identity and sexual orientation are not the same. Transgender people may identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or heterosexual.

Transsexual: An older term for persons who change, or seek to change, their bodies through medical interventions. Transsexual is not an umbrella term; many transgender people do not identify as transsexual and prefer the word transgender. If preferred, use as an adjective.

Cisgender: An individual whose gender identity aligns with their sex at birth.

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