Here are some definitions to help you along your learning journey. Please remember that language is constantly evolving, and not everyone uses these terms in the same ways. While these terms may be commonly used or defined this way in this part of the world, it's important to remember that a US perspective does not equate to a universal perspective.
Oregon Department of Education's Glossary found in Supporting Gender Expansive Students: Guidance for Schools:
A term to describe an individual’s accurate name, as asserted by the individual themselves. An individual may assert an updated accurate name at more than one point in their life. Someone's asserted name may be conditional based on safety or privacy needs or may be fluid depending on identity or contextual factors. This may also be referred to as a chosen or preferred name. (See also Gender)
A term to describe the process of self-identifying and self-acceptance that entails the sharing of a person's gender identity and/or sexual or romantic orientation with others. There are many different degrees of being out, and coming out is a lifelong process. Coming out can be an incredibly personal and transformative experience. It is critical to respect where each person is within their process of self-identification, and it is up to each person, individually, to decide if and when, and to whom to come out to. Also referred to as "disclosure" or "letting in," which both acknowledge the right each person has to share or not share their LGBTQ2SIA+ identity on their own terms.
ODE defines Educational Equity as the equitable implementation of policy, practices, procedures, and legislation that translates into resource allocation, education rigor, and opportunities for historically and currently marginalized youth, students, and families including civil rights protected classes. This means the restructuring and dismantling of systems and institutions that create the dichotomy of beneficiaries and the oppressed and marginalized.
A socially constructed system that gives meaning to masculinity and femininity and which unevenly distributes power and opportunity according to cultural interpretations of sex. As an element of personal identity, a person’s gender is developed through the interaction of social roles and expectations, one’s response to those expectations, one’s physiology, and one’s internal sense of self. (See also Gender Binary)
A socially constructed system of viewing gender as consisting solely of two opposite categories, termed “male and female”, in which no other possibilities for gender or anatomy are believed to exist. Historically and currently used by systems in power to assert that gender is biologically determined, in order to deny the existence and rights of gender expansive people (see also Two Spirit). This concept denies natural occurrences of intersex variations in people, as well as nonbinary and gender expansive animals and plants. This concept reinforces the idea that men and women are opposites and must have different roles in society. (See also Gender)
A term to describe the act of assuming an individual’s gender, often based on their assigned sex/gender as well as apparent societal gender markers and expectations, such as physical attributes and expressed characteristics. Examples of assuming a person’s gender include using pronouns for a person before learning what pronouns they use, or calling a person a man or a woman without knowing their gender. (See also Misgendering)
A term to describe the distress or discomfort an individual feels due to discontinuity between their gender and the sex/gender they were assigned at birth, their physical body, and/or the way their gender is perceived by others. Evidence of gender dysphoria is required by many medical professionals to assist a person in their medical transition; as a result, it has been controversial in gender expansive communities. (See also Gender Euphoria)
A term to describe the joyous feeling often experienced when one’s gender is recognized and respected by others, when one’s body aligns with one’s gender, or when one expresses themselves in accordance with their gender. Focusing on gender euphoria instead of gender dysphoria shifts focus towards the positive aspects of being transgender and/or gender expansive. (See also Gender Dysphoria)
A term to describe a person's gender presentation, usually consisting of personal style, clothing, hairstyle, makeup, jewelry, vocal inflection, and body language. Gender expression is typically categorized and attributed as masculine or feminine, or less commonly as androgynous. Gender expression can be congruent with a person's gender identity, but it can also be incongruent if a person does not feel safe or supported, or does not have the resources needed to engage in gender expression that authentically reflects their gender identity. (See also Gender Attribution)
A term to describe a person’s deeply held knowledge of their own authentic gender, which can include being a man, woman, another gender, or no gender. A person’s gender identity can be the same or different than the sex/gender assigned to them at birth. The responsibility and right to self-determine and assert one’s own authentic gender identity rests within each person, and should be free from the force or manipulation of another person. (See also Anti-Transgender Bias)
An umbrella term used to describe people whose gender expression and identity expand beyond perceived or expected societal gender norms. Some gender-expansive individuals identify as multiple genders, some identify along the binary a man or a woman, and some identify as no gender. Gender-expansive people might feel that they exist among genders, as on a spectrum, or beyond the notion of the man/woman binary entirely. This term is meant to represent the myriad of system-impacted gender identities, expressions, and assignments, including but not limited to transgender, nonbinary, Two Spirit, intersex, agender, genderqueer, and genderfluid identities, whose definitions are outlined below.
A term used to describe a person who does not identify with a specific gender or feels neutral when it comes to their gender identity.
A term to describe a person whose gender identity and expression align with the sex/gender they were assigned at birth or by society, through the enforcement of the gender binary. (See also Gender Binary)
A term to describe a person who is born with the sexual anatomy, reproductive system, and chromosomes associated with their assigned sex/gender. In other words, a person who is not intersex. Also referred to as endosex and perisex. (See also Intersex)
A term used to describe a gender identity that changes and fluctuates based on someone's current understanding of themselves. People who are genderfluid may not identify with the gender binary and may move within genders, gender expressions, or use flexible or context-dependent names or pronouns.
A term used to describe a person who does not identify or express their gender within the gender binary. Those who identify as genderqueer may identify as neither men nor women, may see themselves as outside of or in between the gender binary, or may simply feel restricted by gender labels. Genderqueer may be considered a subset of transgender, a distinct identity, or an umbrella term to describe a range of gender expansive identities.
An umbrella term for variations in sex traits or reproductive anatomy. Intersex people are born with these traits or develop them in childhood. There are many possible variations in genitalia, hormones, internal anatomy, or chromosomes, compared to the two typical ways that society enforces human development. Some intersex traits are noticed at birth. Others do not show up until puberty or later in life. Intersex people often face shame or are forced or coerced into changing their bodies, usually at a very young age. Most surgeries to change intersex traits happen in infancy. Intersex may be an important part of someone’s identity, but is not often used as a gender identity itself. (See also Dyadic)
A term used to refer to people whose gender identity is not exclusively man or woman, including those who identify with a different gender, a combination of genders, or no gender. Nonbinary may be considered a subset of transgender, a distinct identity, or an umbrella term to describe a range of gender expansive identities. (See also Gender Expansive)
An umbrella term used to describe system-impacted sexual and gender identities and/or individuals of non-normative identities and politics that eschews binaries and fixed definitions. Queer is often used to describe an individual’s oppositional relationship to power or the dominant culture. While it is used as a neutral, or even a positive term among many LGBTQ2SIA+ youth today, historically “queer” has been used as a derogatory slur and may be more sensitive or harmful for older LGBTQ2SIA+ individuals. For this reason, schools and districts should be responsive to the language used by LGBTQ2SIA+ students and communities.
A term describing a person’s gender identity that does not necessarily match their assigned sex/gender at birth or gender attribution by society. Also used as an umbrella term to describe groups of people who transcend conventional expectations of gender identity or expression. Often shortened to trans, from the Latin prefix for “on a different side as.”
A term used within some American Indian (AI) and Alaska Native (AN) communities to refer to a person who identifies as having both a male and a female essence or spirit. The term, created in 1990 by a group of AI/AN activists at an annual Native LGBTQ conference in response to exclusion from White LGBTQ spaces, encompasses sexual, cultural, gender, and spiritual identities, and provides unifying, positive, and encouraging language that emphasizes reconnecting to tribal traditions and history. Non-Indigenous people should not use this term. Individual terms and roles for Two Spirit people are specific to each nation and/or language. Additional umbrella terms such as Indigiqueer or Native LGBTQ may be used by some Native people who do not use or identify with the term Two Spirit.
*Adapted from Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board (NPAIHB) and PFLAG
Gender/Sex Assigned at Birth
A term to describe the assignment and classification of people as male, female, intersex, or another sex assigned at birth often based on physical anatomy at birth and/or karyotyping, followed by the continuation of gender attribution aligning with the sex assignment. (See also Gender Attribution)
Legal Sex/Gender Marker
A legal and medical designation of assigned sex/gender, most often as male (M) or female (F) based on the gender binary, leaving out or misrepresenting intersex (X) and gender expansive individuals. In Oregon, all students and school staff have the right to designate Male (M), Female (F), or Nonbinary (X) on their records, which recognizes some identities beyond the binary and correlates with the sex designations allowable on Oregon birth certificates and driver's licenses. Legal gender/sex markers can be changed in Oregon but may not be recognized federally in the United States or internationally. Not all gender expansive individuals change their legal gender/sex marker to align with their gender identities for various reasons including personal safety and social or familial support. (See Gender/Sex Assigned at Birth)
An acronym that encompasses multiple gender identities and sexual orientations including lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, transgender, nonbinary, queer, questioning, Two Spirit, intersex, and asexual. The plus sign (“+”) recognizes and includes the myriad ways to describe system-impacted gender identities and sexual orientations. It is also important to recognize that the challenges and barriers for students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, and queer can be different from the challenges and barriers faced by students with gender-expansive identities and expressions. This definition recognizes every individual who identifies as a member of a LGBTQ2SIA+ community has a unique lived experience, and LGBTQ2SIA+ communities are not a homogeneous group with a single identity.
Gender pronouns are public parts of speech that replace a person's name when they are discussed in the third person. Examples include binary pronouns “she/her/hers” and “he/him/his,” gender neutral “they/them/theirs," as well as neopronouns such as "ze/hir/hirs,” "fae/faer/faers," or "e/em/eir." Some people use no pronouns at all, or some combination such as “she/they.” The pronoun or set of pronouns that a person asserts may or may not align with their gender identity or expression. Someone's pronouns may be conditional based on safety or privacy needs, fluid, or non-conforming in their use. In many languages, words are gendered in the binary and gender expansive people will identify ways to make words more neutral (e.g., "elle" in Spanish or "iel/iels" in French), which may be represented in the pronoun set that a multilingual person shares. (See also Neopronouns)
Neopronouns are a category of neologistic English third-person personal pronouns beyond 'he', 'she', 'they', 'one', and 'it'. Neopronouns are asserted by some nonbinary individuals who feel that neopronouns provide options to reflect their gender identity more accurately.
A term used to describe the process of discovery and exploration about their sexual or romantic orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or a combination thereof. Questioning is a profoundly important process to better understand and represent one's authentic self, and does not imply that someone can change or choose who they are through outside forces. Questioning can happen at any age across the lifespan, and can be dependent on many factors such as awareness, feelings of safety, and social or familial support.
A term used to refer to the process—social, legal, and/or medical—a person goes through to affirm their own gender identity. This may, but does not always, include changing names or pronouns on identification documents, taking puberty blockers or affirming hormones, or adjusting gender expression. Many individuals choose not to or are unable to transition for a wide range of reasons both within and beyond their control. The validity of an individual’s gender identity does not depend on any social, legal, and/or medical transition; the self-identification itself is what validates the gender identity.
A term used to describe the antagonism or disgust directed toward transgender and gender expansive individuals due to their actual or perceived gender identity and/or expression. This stigma can be structural (e.g., societal conditions, policies, and institutional practices that restrict the opportunities, resources, and well-being of gender expansive people) or social (e.g., negative stereotypes or perceived social status that separates a person or group from other members of society). Anti-transgender stigma can often result in active hostility toward gender expansive people, such as microaggressions, discrimination, bullying, verbal harassment, or sexual and physical violence. Anti-transgender stigma can also be internalized by gender expansive people and result in gender dysphoria and/or other negative mental health outcomes such as suicidal ideation or death by suicide. Related terms are cissexism or transphobia.
The following definitions are specific actions that can result from anti-transgender stigma which can harm LGBTQ2SIA+ students and create hostile school communities:
A term used to describe any attempt to change a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Conversion therapists and supporters may use a variety of shaming, emotionally traumatic, or physically painful stimuli to make the person associate those stimuli with their LGBTQ2SIA+ identities. Conversion therapy is prohibited in Oregon* and has been denounced as harmful by dozens of professional healthcare organizations, including the American Psychological Association and the World Health Organization.* According to a study published by the American Public Health Association, individuals between the ages of 13-24 who have undergone conversion therapy were more than twice as likely to report having attempted suicide and having multiple suicide attempts as those in the same age range who did not undergo conversion therapy.* Sometimes referred to as “reparative therapy.”
*ORS 675.850; See Conversion Therapy, GLAAD; Self-Reported Conversion Efforts and Suicidality Among US LGBTQ Youths and Young Adults, 2018 , Amy E. Green, Myeshia Price-Feeney, Samuel H. Dorison, and Casey J. Pick, American Journal of Public Health, 2020
A term used to describe the act of referring to the name that a transgender or gender-expansive person used previously. Deadnaming can cause trauma, stress, embarrassment, and even danger. Other related terms that may be used in place of deadname are birth name, given name, or old name.
A term used to describe the act of referring to someone outwardly in a way that does not correctly reflect their asserted gender (e.g., using incorrect name or pronouns). This may be subconscious and unintentional or can be a maliciously employed expression of anti-transgender bias. Regardless of intent, misgendering has a harmful impact and can result in hostile and unsupportive school communities for gender expansive students. (See also Gender Attribution)
A term to describe the deliberate or accidental sharing of another person’s sexual orientation or gender identity without their explicit consent. Outing may put LGBTQ2SIA+ people at risk for harm, depending on the level of familial and social support as well as access to health services needed. (See also Gender Attribution)
For more terms and definitions relating to gender identity and sexual orientation, please see the LGBTQ2SIA+ Student Success Plan.