Gender means social and cultural expectations of roles and how we present ourselves in society.
For most people, their gender matches up with the cultural expectations of the sex they were given at birth (cisgender). Others may self-identify as being transgender, agender or gender nonbinary.
Gender identity means a person’s internal sense of whether they’re male or female, both, or neither. It’s a person’s internal, deeply-held sense of one’s gender. Gender identity is not visible to others.
Gender identity may be the same as the sex they were assigned at birth (cisgender) or not (transgender). A transgender person’s internal gender identity doesn’t match up with the cultural expectations of the sex they were given at birth.
Some people have a gender identity as a man (or boy) or a woman (or girl). Some people’s gender identity doesn’t fit into one of these genders. They may identify as agender, which means they don’t identify with a gender at all. They may also identify as gender non-conforming or nonbinary. This means their identity is not exclusively male/masculine or female/feminine.
A person’s gender is expressed outwardly through their name, pronouns, clothing, haircut, behaviour, voice, or body characteristics.
Gender expression includes using facilities (like washrooms and change rooms) that match up with a person’s own sense of gender. Society thinks of these cues as male/masculine and female/feminine, although what‘s considered masculine and feminine changes over time and within different cultures.
The word intersex may be used when the person’s reproductive, sexual, or genetic biology is unclear—not exclusively male, female, or otherwise and don’t fit within traditional definitions of male or female.
Current as of: September 25, 2018
Author: Sexual and Reproductive Health, Alberta Health Services
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