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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI)

Key Terms

Gender Expression is the manner in which a person communicates about gender to others through external means such as clothing, appearance, or mannerisms. While most people’s understandings of gender expressions relate to masculinity and femininity, there are countless combinations that may incorporate both masculine and feminine expressions—or neither—through androgynous expressions. An individual’s gender expression does not automatically imply one’s gender identity.

Gender Identity is one’s deeply held core sense of being a woman, man, some of both, or neither. One’s gender identity does not always correspond to biological sex. Awareness of gender identity is usually experienced as early as 18 months old.

Gender Binary is a system in which gender is constructed into two strict categories of male or female. Gender identity is expected to align with the sex assigned at birth and gender expressions and roles fit traditional expectations.

Gender Roles mean how we’re expected to act, speak, dress, groom, and conduct ourselves based upon our assigned sex. For example, girls and women are generally expected to dress in typically feminine ways and be polite, accommodating, and nurturing. Men are generally expected to be strong, aggressive, and bold. Stereotypes about gender can cause unequal and unfair treatment because of a person’s gender.

Sexual orientation is an inherent or immutable enduring emotional, romantic or sexual attraction to other people. Note: an individual’s sexual orientation is independent of their gender identity.

NOTE:

People often confuse gender identity with sexual orientation. But being transgender isn’t the same thing as being lesbian, gay, or bisexual. Gender identity, whether transgender or cisgender, is about who you ARE inside as male, female, both, or none of these. Being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or straight describes who you’re attracted to and who you feel yourself drawn to romantically, emotionally, and sexually.

A transgender person can be gay, lesbian, straight, or bisexual, just like someone who’s cisgender. A simple way to think about it is: Sexual orientation is about who you want to be with. Gender identity is about who you are.

From: Human Rights Campaign. (n.d.). Glossary of Terms. https://www.hrc.org/resources/glossary-of-terms?utm_medium=ads&utm_source=GoogleSearch&utm_content=Glossary-Definition&utm_campaign=GoogleGrant&utm_source=GS&utm_medium=AD&utm_campaign=BPI-HRC-Grant&utm_content=607611806381&utm_term=gender%20definition&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIhZCb8sas-wIVc21vBB2rSA8REAAYASAAEgKtgPD_BwE

Vocabulary

The power of language to shape our perceptions of other people is immense. Precise use of terms in regards to gender identity, gender expression, romantic identities, and sexual orientation can have a significant impact on demystifying many of the misperceptions associated with these concepts. However, vocabulary evolves, and there is not universal agreement about the definitions of many terms. A good best practice is to ask people what the words they use to describe themselves mean for them and how they would like you to use language when talking with or about them. 

Find a more complete list of terms use to describe Gender and Sexuality in the PFLAG National Glossary of Terms

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