Kent State Admissions Application - Gender Identity Definitions
Gender Identity: Gender identity refers to a person's innate, deeply felt psychological identification as a man, woman, or any gender, which may or may not correspond to their sex assigned at birth. There are infinite possibilities, but some examples include man, woman, cisgender, transgender, non-binary, and agender. Gender identity is also often conflated with sexual orientation, but this is inaccurate. Gender identity does not cause sexual orientation.
Agender: An umbrella term encompassing many different genders of people who commonly do not have a gender, have a gender that they describe as neutral, or do not identify with a gender.
Gender Fluid: A person whose gender identity (and/or gender expression) can change or fluctuate.
Genderqueer: a) A blanket term used to describe people whose gender falls outside of the gender binary; b) A person who identifies as both a man and a woman, or as neither a man nor a woman.
Man (cisgender): A person who identifies as man/male and was assigned it at birth.
Man (transgender): A person who identifies as a man/male but was not assigned it at birth.
Non-Binary: a) A spectrum of gender identities based on the rejection of the gender binary and its assumption that gender is strictly an either/or option of male or female; b) A personal identity used to describe a gender other than man/woman.
Woman (cisgender): A person who identifies as a woman/female and was assigned it at birth.
Woman (transgender): A person who identifies as a woman/female but was not assigned it at birth.
This list is not exhaustive of all the terms and definitions used within the LGBTQ+ community but is intended to cover many commonly accepted terms and definitions for the LGBTQ+ community. Please note that gender identity and sexual orientation are self-identifying labels, and some LGBTQ+ people may use different labels or definitions for themselves that differ from this list. Please review the terminology below to help learn what different terms within the community typically mean.
- AFAB or AMAB - Acronyms meaning “assigned female/male at birth” (also designated female/male at birth or female/male assigned at birth). No one, whether cis or trans, gets to choose what sex they’re assigned at birth. This term is preferred to “biological male/female”, “male/female bodied”, “natal male/female”, and “born male/female”, which are defamatory and inaccurate.
- Agender (non-gender) - An umbrella term encompassing many different genders of people who commonly do not have a gender, have a gender that they describe as neutral, or do not identify with a gender.
- Ally - Someone who advocates for and supports members of a community other than their own, reaching across differences to achieve mutual goals.
- Asexual - Experiencing little or no sexual attraction to others and/or a lack of interest in sexual relationships/behavior. Asexuality exists on a continuum from people who experience no sexual attraction or have any desire for sex, to those who experience low levels, or sexual attraction only under specific conditions, and many of these different places on the continuum have their own identity labels.
- Androgynous - A gender expression that has elements of both masculinity and femininity.
- Bias - Prejudice; an inclination or preference, especially one that interferes with impartial judgment.
- Bigender - A person who identifies with both traditionally “woman” and “man” gender-based behaviors and identities.
- Biphobia - The irrational fear and intolerance of people who are bisexual, or the marginalization or refusal to acknowledge bisexuality as a legitimate sexuality.
- Bisexual - Also colloquially referred to as "bi." A person who is attracted to both men and women, but not necessarily simultaneously or equally.
- Cisgender – A cisgender person is one whose gender identity matches their sex assigned at birth (primarily determined by genitalia). Man and Woman are two examples of cisgender identities.
- Cisgenderism - Holding people to traditional expectations based on gender, or punishing or excluding those who don't conform to traditional gender expectations.
- Cissexism - The belief and treatment of trans people as inferior on less authentic than cissexual (non-trans) people.
- Coming Out - To recognize one's sexual orientation, gender identity, or sex identity, and to be open about it with oneself and with others.
- Cross-Dressing - a) occasionally wearing clothing of another gender, usually for personal comfort or relaxation; b) this expression is not necessarily linked to gender identity, erotic activity, or sexual orientation. This should be used with caution; it is not to be used to describe a transgender person that has transitioned or intends to do so in the future.
- Demisexual - A person who does not experience sexual attraction without first forming a strong emotional connection with a person. When meeting someone new there is no initial sexual attraction.
- Discrimination - The act of showing partiality or prejudice; a prejudicial act.
- Domestic Partner - One who lives with their beloved and/or is at least emotionally and financially connected in a supportive manner with another. Another word for spouse, lover, significant other, etc.
- Dominant Culture - The cultural values, beliefs, and practices that are assumed to be the most common and influential within a given society.
- Drag Performer - a) a performer who offers exaggerated presentations of gender and often cross-dresses for entertainment purposes; b) this expression is not necessarily linked to gender identity, erotic activity, or sexual orientation. Drag Queens and Drag Kings are two examples of drag performers.
- Family of choice (chosen family) - Persons or group of people an individual sees as significant in their life. It may include none, all, or some members of their family of origin. In addition, it may include individuals such as significant others, domestic partners, friends, and coworkers.
- Female - A person who is born with XX chromosomes and a vagina, uterus, ovaries, etc.
- Feminine - The act of expressing oneself with physical characteristics that are traditionally (socially) associated with women (e.g. appearance, behavior, dress, etc.).
- FTM/F2M - Female-to-Male Transgender.
- Gay - Man-identified people who are exclusively sexually attracted to men. This term is sometimes used as a quick reference for the entire LGBTQA community, but it is not acceptable as it reinforces the erasure of other sexual identities. Research suggests using terms such as “gay” and “same-gender attraction” instead of “homosexual.”
- Gender - A system of classification that ascribes qualities of masculinity and femininity to people. Gender characteristics can change over time and are different between cultures. One's sense of self as masculine or feminine regardless of external genitalia. Gender is often conflated with sex. This is inaccurate because sex refers to bodies and gender refers to personality characteristics.
- Gender Binary (also know as binarism) - A social construct that states that sex and gender only have two distinct categories: male/man/masculine and female/woman/feminine.
- Gender Conformity/Cisgendered - When a person's gender identity and sex are in alignment (i.e. fit social norms), e.g. a male who is masculine and identifies as a man. The term "cisgendered" was coined in the early 1990s as a way to refer to people who do not identify as transgender, and the prefix "cis-" is used in the term "cissexual" to refer to the same concept as applied to biological sex.
- Gender Dysphoria - Being discontent with the biological sex and/or gender that a person was assigned at birth. This discontent can lead to serious discomfort and feelings of "wrongness," that the person was born in the wrong body. The professional diagnosis for gender dysphoria has been gender identity disorder (GID). A modern remedy for gender dysphoria consists primarily of physical alterations to bring the person's body more into alignment with that person's perception of their gender identity (see "transition"); however, it is important to remember that transitioning does not eliminate the difference between sex and gender.
- Gender Expression - Gender expression refers to all of the external characteristics and behaviors that are socially defined as either masculine, feminine, both, or neither; such as dress, grooming, mannerisms, speech patterns, and social interactions. Gender expression can be defined differently based on social and cultural norms. This sometimes can conflate with gender identity, but is not given; for example, someone who identifies as a woman can still choose to express herself in a way deemed by society as masculine, e.g. certain hairstyles, clothing, and behaviors. There are infinite possibilities for gender expression terms, but some examples are masculine, feminine, gender-neutral, and androgynous.
- Gender-fluid - A person whose gender identity (and/or gender expression) can change or fluctuate.
- Gender Identity - Gender identity refers to a person's innate, deeply felt psychological identification as a man, woman, or any gender, which may or may not correspond to their sex assigned at birth. There are infinite possibilities, but some examples include man, woman, cisgender, transgender, non-binary, and agender. Gender identity is also often conflated with sexual orientation, but this is inaccurate. Gender identity does not cause sexual orientation. For example, a masculine woman is not necessarily a lesbian.
- Gender-Neutral - a) a gender expression that is not completely masculine nor completely feminine; b) a gender expression that is ambiguous; c) nondiscriminatory language to describe relationships—e.g. “spouse” and “partner” are gender-neutral alternatives to the gender-specific words “husband,” “wife,” “boyfriend” and “girlfriend.”
- Genderqueer - a) a blanket term used to describe people whose gender falls outside of the gender binary; b) a person who identifies as both a man and a woman, or as neither a man nor a woman.
- Gender Role - How “masculine” or “feminine” an individual acts. Societies commonly have norms regarding how males and females should behave, expecting people to have personality characteristics and/or act a certain way based on their biological sex.
- Gender-variant/Gender non-conforming - Displaying gender traits that are not normatively associated with their biological sex. “Feminine” behavior or appearance in a male is gender-variant as is “masculine” behavior or appearance a female. Gender-variant behavior is culturally specific.
- Gray-A or Gray-Ace - A person who identifies somewhere along the asexual spectrum meaning that they may experience sexual attraction rarely or only under certain circumstance.
- Hate Crime - Hate crime legislation often defines a hate crime as a crime motivated by the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender identity, disability, or sexual orientation of any person.
- Hermaphrodite - An offensive term that should be avoided.
- Heteronormativity - The cultural bias in favor of opposite-sex relationships of a sexual nature, and against same-sex relationships of a sexual nature. Heteronormative practices or techniques are multiple and organize categories of identity into hierarchical binaries. This means that man has been set up as the opposite (and superior) of woman, and heterosexual as the opposite (and superior) of homosexual. Heteronormativity thus is damaging to people in many different groups.
- Heterosexual - A person who experiences sexual attraction to persons of the opposite (heavily rooted in the gender binary) gender, often referred to as “straight.”
- Heteroromantic - Romantic and/or emotional attraction to a gender other than your own. Commonly thought of as “attraction to the opposite gender” but since there are not only two genders (see "gender identity"), this definition is inaccurate.
- Heterosexism - Assuming every person to be heterosexual therefore marginalizing persons who do not identify as heterosexual. It is also believing heterosexuality to be superior to homosexuality and all other sexual orientations.
- Heterosexual Privilege - Benefits derived automatically by being (or being perceived as) heterosexual that are denied to homosexuals, bisexuals, and queers.
- Homonormativity - Norm that takes it for granted that everybody with any lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (homosexual) connection is and act as if they were homosexual. Homosexuals are commonly defined as: persons who are attracted to individuals of the same gender; any person illustrating any homosexual norm or stereotype to be homosexual. The same problems apply with homonormativity as with heteronormativity; it can marginalize or punish persons who do not exhibit stereotypically "gay" behavior.
- Homophobia - The irrational fear and intolerance of people who are homosexual or of homosexual feelings within one's self. This assumes that heterosexuality is superior.
- Homoromantic - Emotional or romantic attraction to persons of the same gender
- Homosexual - An outdated term that should be avoided.
- Institutional Oppression - Arrangement of a society used to benefit one group at the expense of another through the use of language, media education, religion, economics, etc.
- Internalized Dominance - The inability of a group or an individual to see the privilege of being the dominant group or being a member of the dominant group.
- Internalized Oppression - The process by which an oppressed person comes to believe, accept, or live out the inaccurate stereotypes and misinformation about their group.
- Intersex - A general term used for a variety of genetic, hormonal, chromosomal, or anatomical conditions in which a person's reproductive or sexual anatomy doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male. When a child is born intersex (particularly with ambiguous genitalia), many doctors and parents panic and rush to “correct” the “problem” via surgery, which often causes mental and physical difficulties later in life. Some intersex individuals identify as transgender or gender variant; others do not. Some intersex individuals go through life without knowing that they are intersex because the physical characteristics and/or symptoms are minor and do not affect their life in any way.
- In the Closet - Keeping one's sexual orientation and/or gender or sex identity a secret.
- Invisible Minority - A group whose minority status is not always immediately visible, such as some disabled people and LGBT+ people. This lack of visibility may make organizing for rights difficult.
- Lambda - The Gay Activist Alliance originally chose the lambda, the Greek letter "L", as a symbol in 1970. Organizers chose the letter "L" to signify liberation. The word has become a way of expressing the concept "lesbian and gay male" in a minimum of syllables and has been adopted by such organizations as Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund.
- Lesbian - Woman-identified people who are exclusively sexually attracted to women. Research suggests using terms such as “lesbian” and “same-gender attraction” instead of “homosexual.”
- Male - A person who is born with XY chromosomes and a penis, scrotum, testicles, etc.
- Man (Cisgender) - A person who identifies as man/male and was assigned it at birth.
- Man (Transgender) - A person who identifies as a man/male but was not assigned it at birth.
- Marginalized - Excluded, ignored, or relegated to the outer edge of a group/society/community.
- Masculine - The act of expressing oneself with physical characteristics that are traditionally (socially) associated with men (e.g. appearance, behavior, dress, etc.).
- Men who have sex with men (MSM) - Men who engage in same-sex behavior, but who may not necessarily self-identify as gay (sometimes referred to as 'on the down-low').
- MTF/M2F - Male-to-Female Transgender.
- Nonbinary - a) a spectrum of gender identities based on the rejection of the gender binary and its assumption that gender is strictly an either/or option of male or female; b) a personal identity used to describe a gender other than man/woman.
- Out (of the closet) - Refers to varying degrees of being open about one’s sexual orientation and/or sex identity or gender identity.
- Panromantic - An emotional and/or romantic orientation characterized by romantic attraction toward any gender.
- Pansexual - A person who is attracted to people regardless of sex/gender/gender expression. Pansexual people are attracted to who the person is rather than sex/gender/gender expression.
- Polyamorous - A person who is open to more than one romantic relationship at a time, with the consent of all parties involved. This may include relationships where all involved are in a simultaneous relationship with all others involved or relationships in which one person is involved in multiple relationships but the other is exclusive.
- Queer - a) attracted to people of many genders; b) self-identity label for people who feel they do not fit cultural norms for sexual orientation and/or gender identity; c) sometimes used as an umbrella term for all people with non-heterosexual sexual orientations; d) historically, a pejorative term – its use today is met with disfavor by some and worn proudly by others.
- Questioning - A term used to describe someone who is unsure of or exploring their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
- Rainbow Flag - The Rainbow Freedom Flag was designed in 1978 by Gilbert Baker to designate the great diversity of the LGBTQ+ community. It has been recognized by the International Flag Makers Association as the official flag of the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement.
- Romantic/Emotional Attraction - Romantic attraction is the term used to describe to whom someone is romantically/emotionally attracted. People can experience romantic attraction even though they may not feel sexual attraction. There are infinite possibilities, but some examples include heteroromantic, homoromantic, biromantic, and aromantic.
- Sex Identity - The sex that a person sees themselves as. This can include refusing to label oneself with a sex.
- Sexual minority - Refers to members of sexual orientations or who engage in sexual activities that are not part of the mainstream. Refers to members of sex groups that do not fall into the majority categories of male or female, such as intersexuals and transsexuals.
- Sex Assigned at Birth - Sex assigned at birth identifies a person as either female, male, or intersex. It is determined by a person’s sexual anatomy, chromosomes, and hormones at birth.
- Sex (versus gender) - Refers to a person based on their anatomy (external genitalia, chromosomes, and internal reproductive system). Sex terms are male, female, transsexual, and intersex. Sex is biological, although social views and experiences of sex are cultural.
- Sexuality - The deep-seated direction of one's sexual (erotic) attraction. It is on a continuum and not a set of absolute categories. Sometimes referred to as affection orientation or sexuality. Sexual orientation evolves through a multistage developmental process, and may change over time.
- Sexual Orientation (Sexual/Physical Attraction) - Sexual orientation is the term used to describe to whom someone is sexually/physically attracted. People can experience sexual attraction even though they may not feel romantic attraction. There are infinite possibilities, but some examples include gay, lesbian, bisexual, and asexual.
- SRS - Acronym for Sexual Reassignment Surgery, the surgery done by transsexuals to make their bodies and their sex identity match.
- Stereotype - An exaggerated, oversimplified belief about an entire group of people without regard for individual differences.
- Straight - Person who is attracted to a gender other than their own. Commonly thought of as “attraction to the opposite gender,” but since gender does not exist solely on a binary (see "transgender"), this definition is inaccurate.
- Transfeminine - a transgender person who was assigned male at birth, but identifies with femininity to a greater extent than with masculinity.
- Transgender or Trans - a) a person whose gender identity does not match their sex assigned at birth (primarily determined by genitalia); b) an umbrella term for people who challenge the idea of the gender binary. Transgender is not a sexual orientation - transgender people may have any sexual orientation. It is important to acknowledge that while some people may fit under this definition of transgender, they may not identify as such.
- Trans Man - A person who was assigned female at birth and identifies as a man.
- Trans Woman - A person who was assigned male at birth and identifies as a woman.
- Transition - A complicated, multi-step process that can take years as transsexuals align their anatomy with their sex identity; this process may ultimately include sex reassignment surgery (SRS).
- Transmasculine - A transgender person who was assigned female at birth, but identifies with masculinity to a greater extent than with femininity.
- Transphobia - Fear or hatred of transgender people; transphobia is manifested in a number of ways, including violence, harassment and discrimination.
- Transsexual - A term that was historically used to identify transgender people who had surgery, hormone replacement, or other medical procedures to change their sex to match their gender identity. While used as an identity label by some, this term is generally considered outdated. “Transgender” has become the preferred term.
- Transvestite - An offensive term that should be avoided.
- Triangle - A symbol of remembrance. Gay men in the Nazi concentration camps were forced to wear the pink triangle as a designation of being homosexual. Women who did not conform to social roles, often believed to be lesbians, had to wear the black triangle. The triangles are worn today as symbols of freedom, reminding us to never forget.
- Two-Spirit - A term used by Native American and Indigenous people to recognize individuals who possess a mixture of masculine and feminine spirits. Can also be used to describe Native people of diverse sexual orientations. This may have different, nuanced meanings in various indigenous cultures.
- Woman (Cisgender) - A person who identifies as woman/female and was assigned it at birth.
- Woman (Transgender) - A person who identifies as woman/female but was not assigned it at birth.
- Ze/Zer/Zim - Gender neutral pronouns that can be used instead of he/she and his/her. (Can also use they/them/their)
* This is not intended to be a comprehensive list, nor do we assume that the definitions included in this list are completely accurate; no offense is meant in defining the above terms. If an inconsistency is found, a term is found that is not included in this list, or a definition is offensive, please don't hesitate to inform us. We will correct the discrepancies as they are found.
For more information about LGBTQI definitions please visit:
- Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network
- Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Professionals
- Encyclopedia.com Gay and Lesbian Movement