When we are born, our gender is presumed based on some of our sex characteristics – basically what body parts we have. This is known as our sex or gender assigned or presumed at birth. The gender someone is presumed at birth doesn’t always determine how they may think, feel, and act, as they grow up.Our gender is our sense of whether we are a man, woman, both, neither or something more fluid.
Some people’s gender aligns with the gender they were assigned at birth, and these people are cisgender. Some people’s gender may not align with the gender they were assigned at birth, or they may not have a gender, and these people are trans or gender diverse.
Sometimes people are born with naturally occurring and very normal variations of sex characteristics and these people are intersex. Some intersex people are cisgender, and some intersex people are trans.
Gender can be binary or non-binary, and someone’s identity can stay stable or shift over time. The process of realising you are trans, gender diverse, or cisgender looks different for everybody.
Gender expression is how we present ourselves and behave that can be interpreted as masculine, feminine, both or something different altogether. Sometimes people choose to express their gender outwardly to society in a way that aligns with their gender identity, and sometimes they don’t feel safe to do so. It’s important not to make assumptions about someone’s gender based on their appearance, how they sound, or because of what body parts they have.
Pronouns are the words we use to refer to others when we’re not using their name. Pronouns can be related to our identity. People may change their pronouns to affirm how they feel right now.
If you’re unsure about someone’s pronouns, respectfully ask them if it is safe to do so. For example, introduce yourself and your pronouns and ask what their name and pronouns are.
“Hi, my name is Taylor and my pronouns are she/her. What are your name and pronouns?”
There are many pronouns that people may go by. For example: she/her, he/him, they/them, ze/zer, she/they, he/they. Using a person’s chosen pronouns can be affirming for them. It is up to each person to decide what their pronouns are.
There are many identities people may use to identify their gender, these are some examples:
|Gender assign at birth||Gender identity||May identify as|
|Female||Male||‘gender diverse’, ‘transgender’, ‘trans’, ‘man’, ‘transgender male’, ‘trans man’|
|Female||Female and male||‘gender diverse’, ‘genderqueer’, ‘gender fluid’, ‘trans’|
|Female||Neither male or female||‘gender diverse’, ‘agender’, ‘genderqueer’|
|Male||Female||‘gender diverse’, ‘transgender’, ‘trans’, ‘woman’, ‘transgender female’, ‘trans woman’|
|Male||Male and female||‘gender diverse’, ‘genderqueer’, ‘gender fluid’, ‘trans’|
|Male||Neither male or female||‘gender diverse’, ‘agender’, ‘genderqueer’|
|Intersex||Female||‘woman’, ‘intersex woman’|
|Intersex||Male||‘man’, ‘intersex man’|
|Intersex||Male and female||‘intersex’, ‘gender diverse’, ‘gender fluid’, ‘genderqueer’, ‘non-binary intersex’|
|Intersex||Neither male or female||‘intersex’, ‘gender diverse’, ‘agender’, ‘genderqueer’|
Check out these links for more information:
Intersex: Intersex Human Rights Australia
Trans and gender diversity: The Gender Centre