Terminology for Discussing Gender

Key Terms 

**These alphabetized terms are used by Lurie Children’s staff to provide a shared language and context for the concepts of LGBTQ+ and Gender Inclusive Trainings. Identity is individual and these definitions may vary/may be used differently by each person. 

Affirming: Acknowledging and supporting the identity of an individual 

Ally: A person who is not LGBTQ+ but shows support for LGBTQ+ people and promotes equality

Cisgender/CisTerm used to describe people whose gender identity is the same as their sex assigned at birth 

Gender Expression: An individual’s characteristics and behaviors such as appearance, dress, mannerisms, speech patterns, and social interactions that are perceived as masculine, feminine, both, or neither

Gender Identity: A person’s internal, deeply-felt sense of being male, female, something in between, or something else.  Gender identity is not determined by body parts or sex assigned at birth 

Gender Expansive (Nonconforming/Creative): Gender expressions that fall outside of societal expectations for one’s sex assigned at birth

Intersex:  A general term used for the many ways in which a person can be born with chromosomes, reproductive anatomy, and/or genitalia that do not fit the typical definitions of female or male

LGBTQ+: A commonly used acronym referring to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer community. The plus acknowledges that there are additional identities within the community. Other iterations include LGBTQQIA (adding Questioning, Intersex, Asexual/Aromantic)

Misgendering: When a person intentionally or accidentally uses the incorrect name or pronouns to refer to a person. Repeated or intentional misgendering is a form of bullying.

Non-Binary Gender: A term that reflects gender identities that don’t fit within the binary of male and female. Individuals may identify as both genders, neither, or some mixture thereof. Some terms under this umbrella: genderqueer, gender fluid, agender, bigender, etc. Some non-binary folks may use they/them/theirs or other neutral pronouns 

Outing: When someone discloses information about another person’s sexual orientation or gender identity without that person’s knowledge and/or consent

Pronouns: A word used to refer so someone without using their name. Common pronouns include, but are not limited to: they/them, she/her, he/him 

Queer: A term that has been embraced and reclaimed by many in the LGBTQ community as a symbol of pride, representing individuals who identify outside of the typical expectations for gender and/or sexuality

Sex Assigned as Birth: Typically, the assignment of “male” or “female” at birth by a medical professional based on visible body parts. This binary assignment does not reflect the natural diversity of bodies or experiences

Sexual Orientation: The gender or genders to which one is romantically, emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted. Sexual orientation is distinct from, and unrelated to, gender identity

Transgender/Trans: Individuals with an affirmed gender identity different than their sex-assigned-at-birth. Transgender can be used as an umbrella term that encompasses diversity of gender identities and expressions. Applies to identity, not body parts 

Additional Resources