Useful Terms for Understanding Gender and Sexuality

Assigned Gender at Birth

Traditionally we are assigned a gender at birth, which is an assumption based off the external appearance of genitalia.

This does not actually determine our gender identity though. For some people, the gender they identify with is different to the gender they were assigned at birth.

Gender Identity

This is the gender which we identify with, the one that we feel comfortable with and want to live as. For some of us, this is the assigned gender at birth. While for others, they do not identify with that which was assigned to them at their birth.

Some people do not to identify as either male or female, but as nonbinary or genderqueer.


This is a term for someone who identifies as the gender they were assigned at birth. A cis-male is someone who was assigned male at birth and whose gender identity is male. While a cis-female is someone who was assigned female at birth and whose gender identity is that of female.


Nonbinary (also spelled non-binary) or genderqueer is a term used to describe people whose gender cannot be defined within the constraints of gender binary. Instead, they understand their gender in a way that goes beyond identifying as a man or a woman.


Transgender (often shortened to Trans) is a blanket term that can be used in many different ways. Some people use it to indicate that their gender identity is not the same as the gender they were assigned at birth.

It is also used for some of the following words as well; Transitioning, Transgender Nonbinary,  Trans Man, and Trans Woman.

Gender Expression

Gender expression is how a person outwardly displays their gender identity. This can include how they dress, how they style their hair, their choice of pronouns, roles they take on and how they present in social situations.

Some people have the same gender expression all the time, while others may be fluid in their expression over time or based on circumstances.

Sexual Attraction

This is who we are sexually attracted to. Sexual attraction is not universal and not everyone who experiences sexual attraction, will experience it in the same way. It is also normal for someone not to feel any sexual attraction towards others; this is commonly referred to as Asexuality.

Romantic Attraction

Romantic attraction is an emotional response that results in a desire to for a romantic relationship. Some people may feel a romantic attraction towards someone without having a sexual attraction to them. It is also normal for someone not to feel any or weak romantic attraction towards others; this is commonly referred to as Aromantic.


The Genderbread Person

Check out the Genderbread Person below to get a helpful visual of everything this resource talks about: (Hint: Click the image to enlarge)


Did you find this article helpful? You might also enjoy our posts about How To Be a Good Ally for LGBTQIA+ People and Understanding the LGBTQIA+ Acronym.


If you are currently dealing with issues around your gender or sexuality you can make a free, confidential appointment with our experienced Welfare Advocate/Social Worker who can support you with this, as well as link you in with other LGBTIQA+ supports and services here.


Please note: This article was written by qualified professionals using evidence based research but is not intended to be a singular resource on the topic. We encourage you to use this as a starting point to conducting your own additional research.