Diversity can mean many things to each of us. It’s important that each definition reflect the ability to accept and celebrate each other; while remembering not to force labels and to respect the term that each individual uses and what it means to them. Diversity is all the ways we’re different from each other. It includes things like race, religion, culture, physical ability, mental ability, family make-up, socio-economic status and sexual and gender diversity.
When we talk about sexual and gender diversity, it’s important to understand these terms:
*check back frequently as these terms and definitions may change and evolve over time*
Two-spirit, lesbian, gay, transgender, intersex, queer, questioning and the rest of the diverse forms of attraction or gender identities or combinations of identities that are not heterosexual and cisgender. The acronym is constantly changing and varies by user.
Abrosexual describes someone whose sexuality is fluid or changeable. For example one day they may identify as asexual, the next as lesbian, and the next as pansexual. Abrosexual people can fluctuate between all sexualities, or just a few. The timing between fluctuations can also vary.
Agender people, also called genderless, genderfree, non-gendered, or ungendered people are those who identify as having no gender or being without any gender identity. This category includes a very broad range of identities which do not conform to traditional gender norms.
A person who feels sexual attraction towards other people.
An ally is a person who displays acts of inclusion and advocacy for the 2SLGBTIQ+ community.
A gender identity in which someone is both, neither or between male and female.
Aromantic refers to someone who does not experience romantic attraction. They may experience sexual and/or aesthetic attraction, but not romantic attraction.
Asexuality (or nonsexuality) is the lack of sexual attraction to anyone, or low or absent interest in sexual activity. It may be considered the lack of a sexual orientation, or one of the variations thereof, alongside heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality.
Bigender is a gender identity where the person moves between feminine and masculine gender identities and/or behaviours, possibly depending on context. Some bigender individuals express two distinct “female” and “male” personas, feminine and masculine respectively; others find that they identify as two genders simultaneously.
The prefix bi means two, therefore binary in the context of gender refers to the two most well known genders; male and female. These gender identities are often assumed to be the norm hence the infrequent use of binary for those whos identities are male or female, especially cisgender individuals.
Bisexuality is romantic attraction, sexual attraction or sexual behavior toward both males and females, or romantic or sexual attraction to people of any sex or gender identity; this latter aspect is sometimes termed pansexuality.
Someone whose gender identity aligns with their sex assigned at birth.
The assumption that everyone is cisgender and that cisgender identities are superior to trans and non-binary identities and people.
An individual with little or no sexual attraction until strong emotional attraction is formed with another individual.
The performance of masculinity (drag king), femininity (drag queen) or neutrality theatrically. These are forms of gender expression not to be confused with gender identities.
Feelings of attraction to or emotional bonds with another person or group of people. Can be from a number of factors including but not limited to gender identity, gender expression and sex assigned at birth.
Someone whose sex characteristics fit typical medical and social ideas of male or female bodies.
Gay is a term that primarily refers to a homosexual person; attraction to someone of the same sex assigned at birth, gender identity and/or gender expression. Gay is often used to describe men attracted to men.
How a person expresses their gender identity. This can include the way they act, dress, behave, interact, the name they choose or the pronoun they use (e.g., he, she, ze, xe).
Someone who does not identify with a fixed gender; it varies over time.
A person whose gender identity fluctuates in intensity or between genders.
A person’s internal sense of identity as female, male, both, neither, another gender all together or lack of gender based on their knowledge and experience of gender in a social construct.
Someone who does not identify with the gender binary; identifies with neither, both or a combination of genders. Sometimes used as an umbrella term for gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine—identities which are thus outside of the gender binary and cisnormativity.
Gender variance, or gender nonconformity, is behaviour or gender expression by an individual that does not match masculine and feminine gender norms. People who exhibit gender variance may be called gender variant, gender non-conforming, gender diverse or gender atypical, and may be transgender, or otherwise variant in their gender expression. Some intersex people may also exhibit gender variance.
Someone who experiences sexual attraction either infrequently or not very intensely.
The assumption that everyone is heterosexual and that heterosexuality is superior to all other sexualities and people with those sexualities or varying forms of attraction.
A term that reflects the intersection of Indigenous identity and culture and queer identity.
Intersex is a variation in sex characteristics including hormones, chromosomes, gonads, internal sex organs or genitals that differ from those expected for someone distinctly male or female.
A person who is female identifying and/or feminine presenting and/or someone assigned female at birth who is attracted to female identifying and/or feminine presenting and/or people assigned female at birth.
A person who is not cisgender but does not identify as transgender.
The prefix neo means new, therefore it is a term to describe new third person pronouns. Although termed new, the earliest english neopronouns date back to 1789.
Umbrella term used to describe when someone's gender identity is somehow linked to or best described in connection with their neurotype.
Someone who does not identify their gender as exclusively male or female; they can be two or more genders, have no gender, have a gender that fluctuates or be another gender altogether
A person attracted to any gender identity, while still taking into account a person's gender identity.
Pangender people are those who feel they identify as all genders. The term has a great deal of overlap with gender queer. Because of its all-encompassing nature, presentation and pronoun usage varies between different people who identify as pangender.
A person attracted to someone regardless of gender identity; gender identity and sex assigned at birth are insignificant or irrelevant in determining attraction
Also referred to as sexual orientation; a person’s emotional and sexual attraction to others. It can change and may or may not be the same as a person’s sexual behaviour.
The practice of or attraction to honest, consensual relationships or connection with more than one partner.
Queer is an umbrella term for sexual and gender minorities that are not heterosexual or cisgender. Queer was originally used pejoratively against those with same-sex desires but, beginning in the late-1980s, queer scholars and activists began to reclaim the word.
The questioning of one’s gender, sexual identity, sexual orientation, or all three is a process of exploration by people who may be unsure, still exploring, and concerned about applying a social label to themselves for various reasons.
Sex Assigned at Birth
Categories assigned at birth based on anatomy, hormones and chromosomes, although mainly by visual inspections of genitalia. People are typically assigned male or female. Some people may be assigned intersex, when their reproductive, sexual or genetic biology doesn’t fit the traditional definitions of male or female.
Transgender is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity differs from what is typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth. It is sometimes abbreviated to trans.
A person whose sex assigned at birth was female or intersex, but whose gender identity is male.
A person whose sex assigned at birth was male or intersex, but whose gender identity is female.
Two-Spirit is a modern umbrella term used by some Indigenous North Americans to describe gender-variant individuals in their communities, specifically people within Indigenous communities who are seen as having both male and female spirits within them bringing them closer to the Creator.
Umbrella term for gender identities best described by how they relate to things or concepts not defined by characteristics relating to masculinity, femininity or neutrality.
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Gender Neutral Language
How to be gender neutral in your everyday life.
Learning Hub Gender Neutral Language Guide - An employers guide to using gender inclusive in the workplace
United Nations Toolkit - Toolkit for using gender neutral language in English
Creating Authentic Spaces - Gender identity and expression toolkit
Gender-Neutral Pronoun Blog - Comprehensive guide of neo-pronouns and pronoun usage in writing.
My Pronouns - Tips about pronouns and links for email signatures.
No Big Deal Campaign - Pronoun advocacy campaign.
Pronoun Ribbons - Pronoun stickers for name tags.