Sexual Health Definitions

Ally: A heterosexual or cisgender person who supports people who are LGBTQI*.

Asexual: A person who does not have sexual feelings or associations.

Bisexual: A person who feels romantic, emotional and/or sexual attraction to men and/or woman.

Cisgender: adjectives for people who are not transgender, trans, gender non-binary, genderqueer, gender incongruent and transsexual, or people who have gender identity aligned with sex recorded at birth. 

Differences of sex development (DSD): When a person’s reproductive organs, hormones and/or chromosomes are not consistently male or female. A person born with DSD may identify as intersex.

Gay: Men who feel romantic, emotional and/or sexual attraction to men.

Gender and sex are broad terms for the entire category characteristics related to relevant biology, self-identification, and stereotypical behaviors that might be labeled male, female, or some variation. 

Common adjectives for TGNB people included transgender, trans, gender non-binary, genderqueer, gender incongruent and transsexual.

Gender Dysphoria: the mental health term used for TGNB people who suffer distress from their gender incongruence. Gender dysphoria is the only medical label for TGNB people in ICD-10 and is widely used for TGNB people in medical systems internationally even though many TGNB people who need medical treatment do not suffer dysphoria. 

Gender Expression: how a person communicates gender identity to others. 

Gender Fluid: One who exhibits a wider range of gender identity and expression. People who describe themselves as gender fluid are not restricted by society’s typical gender norms and expectations. They may identify and express themselves as male or female or along a spectrum. Their identity and expression may vary over time.

Gender Identity: the innate sense of being male, female or some variation. 

Gender Incongruence: This is an umbrella term used when the gender identity and/or gender expression differs from what is typically associated with sex assigned at birth. Not all individuals with gender incongruence have gender dysphoria or seek treatment. This is the medical label chosen by the World Health Organization (WHO) to label TGNB people in the 11th edition of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11).

Gender Non-conforming: When gender identity, expression and/or role is not the same as what society expects for a person with that biologic sex.

Gender Affirming Surgery: A surgical procedure to change existing sexual characteristics to resemble those associated with their identified gender.

Gender Roles: are actions assigned to a particular sex by a certain group in a society. 

Genderqueer: A person that does not exclusively identify as masculine or feminine.

Intersex: When a person’s reproductive organs, hormones and/or chromosomes are not consistently male or female.

Lesbian: Women who feel romantic, emotional and/or sexual attraction to women.

LGBTQI*: A person who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or intersex.

Non- binary: Includes people who have more than one gender, no gender (agender), or identify along a spectrum.

Pansexual: A person who feels romantic, emotional and/or sexual attraction to people of various gender identities.

Queer: A general term used by people who do not identify as heterosexual or cisgender.

Questioning: A term used to describe someone who isn’t sure about his or her sex, gender identity or sexual orientation.

Sex: A person’s sex, as assigned at birth. This is usually identified by one’s reproductive organs, hormones and/or chromosomes.

Sexual Orientation: a person’s physical and/or emotional attraction to others. These attractions may change over time or be permanent. Some examples of sexual orientation are shared here.

Straight or Heterosexual: A person who feels romantic, emotional and/or sexual attraction to a person of the opposite gender.

Trans Feminine: A person who is assigned male at birth but identifies as feminine or female.

Transgender: A person who does not have the same gender identity as the sex assigned to them at birth.

Transition: This refers to the process during which transgender persons change their physical, social, and/or legal characteristics consistent with the affirmed gender. Prepubertal children may choose to transition socially.

Transmasculine: A person who is assigned female at birth but identifies as masculine or male

Transsexual: This is an older term that originated in the medical and psychological communities to refer to individuals who have permanently transitioned through medical interventions or desired to do so.

Note: The asterisk (*) is used to include all other gender and sexual minorities. 

Used with permission of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research
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