Gender and Sex:  Terms and Concepts
The Gender Elephant.png

"The Gender Elephant" is a graphic tool by The Canadian Centre for Gender + Sexuality Diversity. 

Assigned Sex at Birth:  The sex given to a person at birth based on an observation of external features.

Biological Sex:  The combination of chromosomes, hormones, and internal and external genitalia that allow assignment as male, female, or intersex.

Intersex:  Having a biological sex that is not exclusively male or female due to variation in hormone levels, chromosomes, genitals, or other factors.  Around 1% of people are in some way intersex.

Gender Identity:   A person’s internal concept of being male, female, a different point along the spectrum, or something else.  Independent of sexual orientation.

Gender Expression:  An individual’s presentations of appearance, behavior, and clothing in the role of expressing their gender.

Cisgender:  Having a gender identity that aligns with your gender assigned at birth.

Transgender:  Having a gender identity that does not align with your gender assigned at birth.  May be viewed as opposite, may not.

Non-binary:  Having a gender identity that is not exclusively aligned with either male or female.

Agender:  Having no sense of gender whatsoever.

Genderfluid:  Having a gender identity that shifts over time.

Gender Non-Conforming:   An individual whose behavior and/or expression does not conform to traditional expectations of their gender.

Gender Dysphoria:  Physical, social, and/or psychological distress caused by a mismatch between gender identity and gender assigned at birth.  Recognized in the DSM-V as a diagnosable condition.


Transition:   A social and/or medical process to bring one’s social presentation and/or body in line with their gender identity.  Specific elements of transition are undertaken to relieve dysphoria.  This is dependent on each person’s experience, circumstances, and needs.