People use a wide variety of words to describe themselves and their identities, and it’s important to respect the terms, names and pronouns people use to refer to themselves.
LGBT stands for “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender”; “LGBTI” for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex”. While these terms have increasing resonance, different cultures use different terms to describe people who have same-sex relationships or who exhibit non-binary gender identities (such as hijra, meti, lala, skesana, motsoalle, mithli, kuchu, kawein, travesty, muxé, fa’afafine, fakaleiti, hamjensgara and two-spirit).
Transgender / Trans
Transgender (sometimes shortened to “trans”) is an umbrella term used to describe a wide range of identities whose appearance and characteristics are perceived as gender atypical —including transsexual people, cross-dressers (sometimes referred to as “transvestites”), and people who identify as third gender. Transwomen identify as women but were classified as males when they were born, transmen identify as men but were classified female when they were born, while other trans people don’t identify with the gender-binary at all. Some transgender people seek surgery or take hormones to bring their body into alignment with their gender identity; others do not.
Intersex / Sex Characteristics
Intersex people are born with physical or biological sex characteristics, such as sexual anatomy, reproductive organs, hormonal patterns and/or chromosomal patterns, which do not fit the typical definitions of male or female. These characteristics may be apparent at birth or emerge later in life, often at puberty. Intersex people can have any sexual orientation and gender identity.
Sexual orientation refers to a person’s physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction towards other people. Everyone has a sexual orientation, which is part of their identity. Gay men and lesbians are attracted to individuals of the same sex as themselves. Heterosexual people are attracted to individuals of a different sex from themselves. Bisexual (sometimes shortened to “bi”) people may be attracted to individuals of the same or different sex. Sexual orientation is not related to gender identity and sex characteristics.
Gender identity reflects a deeply felt and experienced sense of one’s own gender. Everyone has a gender identity, which is part of their overall identity. A person’s gender identity is typically aligned with the sex assigned to them at birth. Transgender (sometimes shortened to “trans”) is an umbrella term used to describe people with a wide range of identities – including transsexual people, cross-dressers (sometimes referred to as “transvestites”), people who identify as third gender, and others whose appearance and characteristics are seen as gender atypical and whose sense of their own gender is different to the sex that they were assigned at birth. Trans women identify as women but were classified as males when they were born. Trans men identify as men but were classified female when they were born. Cisgender is a term used to describe people whose sense of their own gender is aligned with the sex that they were assigned at birth. Gender identity is distinct from sexual orientation and sex characteristics.
Gender expression is the way in which we express our gender through actions and appearance. Gender expression can be any combination of masculine, feminine and androgynous. For a lot of people, their gender expression goes along with the ideas that our societies deem to be appropriate for their gender. For other people it does not. People whose gender expression does not fit into society’s norms and expectations, such as men perceived as ‘feminine’ and women perceived as ‘masculine’ often face harsh sanctions, including physical, sexual and psychological violence and bullying. A person’s gender expression is not always linked to the person’s biological sex, gender identity or sexual orientation.
Homophobia is an irrational fear of, hatred or aversion towards lesbian, gay or bisexual people.
Transphobia is an irrational fear, hatred or aversion towards transgender people.
Biphobia is an irrational fear, hatred or aversion towards bisexual people.