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11 gender-related terms you should know

In 2021 we know all too well that gender is a spectrum. How someone feels cannot necessarily be defined in black and white as man or woman.

Even if you feel completely okay with your birth gender, it’s important to know the correct gendered words and their meanings. These are the 11 most important terms around gender and everything to do with it. If you’re not sure how someone identifies (as male, female, or neither), just ask.

Androgynous

Someone who expresses themselves androgynously disregards gender norms and what their gender or sex is. In their personal expression (way of talking, dressing, and behaving) they use characteristics that can be either male or female, everything in between and beyond.

Agender

Agender persons have no perception of gender or experience an absence of gender. This is also called being ‘genderless’. It literally means: Someone who feels neither man nor woman and therefore has no specific gender identity. ‘A’ as a prefix means ‘absence of something’, so literally, this word means ‘absence of gender’.

Gender non-conforming

Someone who defines themselves as gender non-conforming does not conform to the expectations and stereotypes associated with certain genders. Think: boys wear blue and girls wear pink. Gender non-conforming is therefore not fitting in with what is normally expected of a certain gender.

Sex

This refers to the part of the body you were given at birth, either male or female. Gender has nothing to do with sex.

Gender

While your gender is based on what doctors wrote on your certificate at birth, gender is nothing more than a social construct. To that social construct, created by society, belong certain rules, a set of social and cultural characteristics. A person’s gender does not necessarily correspond to the gender that typically (according to society’s expectations) belongs to his or her sexual organ.

Cisgender

The gender of someone who is cis corresponds to the sex they were born with. Someone who is born with a penis and feels like a man is cisgender.

Cishet

Cishet is an English term for someone who is cisgender and heterosexual. Cisgender is a gender-related term, while heterosexual is a term related to your sexual orientation.

Non-binary

Someone who is non-binary does not recognize themselves in the binary division of gender (i.e., the classic male-female dichotomy) and all the expectations that go with it. Someone who is non-binary can be transgender, gender fluid, genderqueer, or all at the same time.

Transgender

Transgender is a term for someone whose gender does not correspond to the sex they were born with. A transgender man is someone who was born with a vagina but who is making the transition to male gender identity.

Genderqueer

Genderqueer people see their gender as something that does not have to be fixed, as something that can and may change. They can identify with one gender or with a combination of two genders.

Gender fluid

Someone who is gender fluid has the feeling that his or her gender can change over time. Gender fluid persons literally feel their gender ‘flowing’ between different identities on the spectrum.

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