Understanding diverse gender identities; Inclusive glossary of terms 

Aleah Bikle, Editor


In a day and age where we have to be more aware, this list of terms has been created to make it easier to communicate appropriately about gender. 

Agender: a person with no, or very little, connection to the traditional system of gender, someone who sees themselves as existing without gender

Androgyny/Androgynous:  a gender expression that has elements of both masculinity and femininity 

Bigender: a person who fluctuates between traditionally ‘man’ and ‘woman’ gender-based behavior and identities, identifying with two genders 

Butch: a person who identifies themselves as masculine, whether it be physically, mentally, or emotionally

Cisgender: a gender description for when someone’s assigned sex at birth and gender identity correspond in the expected way, if a person is not transgender, they are cisgender 

Femme: someone who identifies themselves as feminine, whether it be physically, mentally, or emotionally

Fluid(ity): generally with another term attached, like ‘gender fluid’ or fluid sexuality, describes an identity that may shift over time between or within the mix of options available

Gender Binary: the idea that there are only two genders and that every person is one of those two

Gender Expression: the external display of one’s gender, through a combination of clothing, grooming, demeanor, sexual behavior, generally made sense of on scales of masculinity and femininity

Gender Non-Conforming:  a gender descriptor that indicates a non-traditional gender expression, or a gender identity label that indicates a person who identifies outside of of the gender binary

Gender Normative/Gender Straight:  someone whose gender presentation, whether by nature or by choice, aligns with society’s gender-based expectations

Hermaphrodite: an outdated medical term previously used to refer to someone who was born with some combination of typically-male or typically-female sex characteristics 

Mx.: an honorific (e.g. Mr., Ms., Mrs.) that is gender neutral. It is often the option of choice for folks who do not identify within the gender binary

Queer: an umbrella term to describe individuals who don’t identify as straight and/or cisgender

Third Gender:  for a person who does not identify with either man or woman, but identifies with another gender, a way to move beyond the gender binary

Transgender:  a gender description for someone who has transitioned, or is transitioning, from living as one gender to another 

Ze/Zir: alternate pronouns that are gender neutral and preferred by some trans* people. They replace ‘he’ and ‘she’ and ‘his’ and ‘hers’ respectively; some people who are not comfortable/do not embrace he/she use the plural pronoun ‘they/their’ as a gender neutral singular pronoun.