Gender Expression

Finding the 'You' Within Yourself

To teach the difference between Sexual Orientation and Gender, "Sexual Orientation is who you go to bed with and Gender is who you go to bed as" (Norman Spack).

Gender expression is any and all mannerisms, personal traits, etc. which serve to communicate a persons identity and personality as they relate to gender and gender roles. masculine, feminine, and androgynous gender expressions can be present in people of any gender or gender expression- even though they are often associated with men, women, and non-binary genders respectively.


Sexual orientation is A feeling of attraction to others, based on biological sex and gender expression, over which individuals have no choice and different from sexual behavior; romantic, sexual, and emotional attraction to others, categorized by the sex of the person to whom one is attracted.

Below is a glossary from Egale with a solid foundation of Gender Terms.

Androgyny - Exhibiting the identity and/or appearance of both male and female, as neither male nor female, or as between male and female; exhibiting behaviors of either or both traditional genders; a descriptive term that many in the GLBTQ community find offensive.

Cisgender - Refers to someone whose gender identity corresponds with their assigned sex.

Cisnormativitiy - A cultural/societal bias, often implicit, that assumes all people are cisgender and so privileges cisgender identities and ignores or underrepresents gender variance.

Female-to-Male (FTM) (also Trans Man) - a person who is assigned female sex at birth but who identifies as a man. Often will simply identify as a man without the prefix ‘trans’.

Femme - A slang term for an individual who projects a traditionally feminine gender role; sometimes, but not always, derogatory; also used by some to self-identify regarding gender.

Gender - The social classification of people as masculine and/or feminine. Whereas sex is an externally assigned classification, gender is something that becomes evident in a social context.

Gender Conformity - Acting within the culturally expected gender role for people of one's biological sex.

Gender Dysphoria - A medical term for unhappiness or discomfort with the gender role assigned by one’s culture to one’s biological sex; a term disliked by many transgender people as implying that there is something wrong with them; may or may not coincide with sexual dysphoria.

Gender Expression - The way a person presents and communicates gender identity to society, through clothing, speech, body language, hairstyle, voice, and/or the emphasis or de-emphasis of bodily characteristics or behaviours and traits used publicly to express one’s gender as masculine or feminine or something else. The traits and behaviours associated with masculinity and femininity are culturally specific and change over time. Gender expression is not an indication of sexual orientation. Also called gender presentation.

Gender Fluidity - The recognition that social constructions of gender identity and gender expressions lie along a spectrum and cannot be limited to two genders; a feeling that one’s gender varies from societal notions of two genders.

Gender Identity - A person’s deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender – their internal sense of being man, woman, or another gendered being entirely. A person’s gender may or may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth. Since gender identity is internal, one’s gender identity is not necessarily visible to others.

Gender Role - Culturally or socially determined sets of attitudes and behaviors that are expected of an individual based on her/his biological sex.

Genderqueer - Refers to a person whose gender identity may not correspond with social and societal gender expectations. Individuals who identify as genderqueer may identify with both male and female genders, move between genders, or may reject the gender binary or gender altogether. Those who identify as genderqueer may or may not also identify as trans.

Male-to-Female (MTF) (Trans Woman) - A person who is assigned male sex at birth but who identifies as a woman. Often will simply identify as a woman without the prefix ‘trans’.

Masculine - A term used to describe the socially constructed and culturally specific gender behaviors expected of males.

Passing - A term for those who successfully assume a gender role and gender expression different than the one to which they were born or assigned at birth; also may refer to closeted gay, lesbian, or bisexual people passing as straight (please note that in some cultures, passing refers to successfully assuming a different racial/ethnic or cultural identity).

Perceived Gender Identity - The assumption that a person is trans, cisgender or genderqueer without knowing what their gender identity actually is. Perceptions about gender identity are often predicated on stereotypes relating to gender expression (e.g. what a trans man “should” look like).

Stealth - When transpeople live as their gender without telling folks they are trans. There are a lot of different levels and sub-types. The most drastic, “deep stealth,” used to be required/recommended by the Standards of Care; this entails cutting off all contact with everyone who knew them by their assigned sex, including families of origin, and moving to new cities and getting new jobs.

Third Gender - A category for those who do not self-identify as either masculine or feminine and who believe that they belong to an alternative gender.

Transgender (Trans) - A person who does not identify either fully or in part with the gender associated with their birth-assigned sex (the antonym for cisgender) – often used as an umbrella term to represent a wide range of gender identities and expressions. Transgender people (just like cisgender people) may identify as straight, gay, etc.

Transition - The process whereby people change their appearance or physical body to align with their gender (also called the “gender affirming process”). Transitioning means different things to different people, due in part to issues of access, safety and personal choice. It may involve, if freely chosen, modification of bodily appearance, presentation or function by medical, surgical, or other means.

Trans Man - A person who is assigned female sex at birth but who identifies as a man. Often will simply identify as a man without the prefix ‘trans’.

Transphobia - Fear and/or hatred of any perceived transgression of gender norms, often exhibited by name-calling, bullying, exclusion, prejudice, discrimination, or acts of violence—anyone who is transgender (or assumed to be) can be the target of transphobia.

Transsexual - A person whose sex assigned at birth does not correspond with their gender identity. A transsexual woman needs to live and experience life as a woman and a transsexual man needs to live and experience life as a man. Some transsexual people may physically alter their body (e.g., sex reassignment surgery and/or hormone therapy) and gender expression to correspond with their gender identity. Many identify as transgender, rather than transsexual, because they are uncomfortable with the psychiatric origins of the term ‘transsexual’.

Trans Woman - A person who is assigned male sex at birth but who identifies as a woman. Often will simply identify as a woman without the prefix ‘trans’.

Transperson - A trans person is anyone who refuses to conform to, or doesn’t fit within, a binary gender system. They may identify as a transman or a transwoman or as something else entirely—such as “genderqueer.” There are many different trans identities, and “trans” does not only refer to people to have had (or want to have) gender reassignment surgery.

Here is a Youtube video to break down some of the myths out there of trans men from Arielle of Girlfriends:


 June 16th, 2014

VANCOUVER —  The Vancouver School Board Trustees passed a motion in favour of introducing gender neutral bathrooms into schools. This is a huge win for transgender students as well as students who idenify outside of the gender binary.

See story from Global News:

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