Useful Words

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Agender:
“Gender is a language that agender people don’t speak.” Agender is an identity that means ‘without’ gender. Agender individuals have no gender identity and/or no gender expression. Often they identify as a person rather than a gender.

Androgyny:
An androgynous person is generally someone who appears as a combination of both masculine and feminine traits. The word androgyny can apply to both superficial (the way one dresses or one’s physical appearance) and psychological characteristics (the gender identity ‘androgyne’). One’s gender identity may be ‘female’ or ‘male’ – but they can act and look androgynous without this being part of their gender identity.

Aromantic:
An aromantic is a person who experiences little or no romantic attraction to others. Where romantic people have an emotional need to be with another person in a romantic relationship, aromantics are often satisfied with friendships and other non-romantic relationships.

Asexual:
Asexuality is the lack of sexual attraction to others or the lack of interest in sex. People who identify as asexual may still identify with other sexualities and be romantically attracted to other people and have fulfilling relationships. Because of this, some asexual people do choose to engage in sexual activity.

Attraction:
Attraction can come in many forms, shapes and sizes. At RY, we break down attraction into 5 different categories: Physical (who you find visually attractive), Sexual (who you find sexually attractive), Spiritual (an attraction to a person’s beliefs or morals), Intellectual (an attraction to a person’s ideas, thoughts or interests) and Emotional (an attraction to someone’s feelings or behaviours).

Bigender:
Descriptor for people who identify with two genders. A bigender person can identify as both genders at the same time (like androgyne) or go back and forth between the two. The two genders that a bigender person identifies with don’t have to be ‘male’ and ‘female’ but rather a combination of any two gender identities on the gender spectrum. Some bigender individuals switch genders, sometimes using different personas for either gender to feel comfortable in different situations.

Bisexual:
Bisexuality is romantic or sexual attraction to people of the same and different genders. Bisexuals may be predominantly attracted to others of the same gender, predominantly attracted to others of a different gender, and/or equally attracted to both. For some people this may change over time, and it depends on every individual.

Cisgender:
(Cis for short) is a term used to describe a gender identity that matches an individual’s sex. So, if your birth certificate is marked ‘Female’ and when you grow up you identify as a female woman, this means that you have a cisgender gender identity. Being cisgender is often thought of as having no gender identity – however that is a popular misconception – everyone has a gender identity, and no one gender identity is more natural than any other.

Cisnormativity:
This is a viewpoint that is based on the assumption that being cisgender is the ‘default’ or ‘normal’ gender identity, instead of being just one of many possibilities. Cisnormativity is often expressed subtly, but can be seen in advertising, print and electronic media, education, law makers, and a range of attitudes expressed by society in general.

Demisexual:
Demisexuals are characterized by a lack of sexual attraction toward any person unless they become deeply emotionally or romantically connected with a specific person or persons.

Fa’afafine:
Fa’afafine are Samoan biological males who behave in a range of feminine-gendered ways. Fa’afafine falls into a third gender, separate from male or female. They have been an integrated part of Samoan communities for centuries.

Fakaleiti
Fakaleiti refers to a third gender category that is found in Tonga – specifically those assigned male at birth. They perform activities traditionally done by females. Fakaleiti in Tonga may not necessarily associate with western queer & trans* identities.

Female to male:
(or FTM for short) refers to those who are transgender or transexual and are in the process of transitioning from female to male. Transitioning can either involve gender reassignment surgery and/or hormonal treatment to reassign their female physical appearance so that it matches their male gender identity. However, one doesn’t have to undergo surgical or hormonal intervention in order to identify as FTM.

Gay:
Gay is a term that is often used for males attracted to males, however it is also used as a general term for both males and females who are attracted to the same sex.  There is no “typical” gay person – gay people are just as diverse as straight people!

Gender diverse: 
At RainbowYOUTH, we use the term ‘gender diverse’ as an umbrella term for an extremely varied range of identities, including culturally specific ones. We here at RY use the term ‘gender diverse’ to indicate that they include identities such as: whakawahine, tangata ira tane, FtM, MtF, transsexual, fa’afafine, transgender, whakawahine, trans men, trans women, akava’ine, leiti, genderqueer and gender-neutral people.

Gender fluid:
Describes a person who has no fixed gender identity on the gender spectrum. Being gender fluid (or being any gender identity for that matter) doesn’t define how someone acts, dresses or appears but is a psychological gender identity. Defying the social stereotypes of certain gender appearances doesn’t necessarily correlate with any given gender identity – so people who look gender fluid may actually identify with another specific gender identity.

Genderqueer:
Usually an umbrella term used to describe those whose identity is non-normative (not male or female). It can also be used as a stand-alone gender identity itself , pertaining to feelings of being neither male or female, both, or somewhere in between. Genderqueer is also a term used to refer to a political standing, similar to gender nonconforming, where one rejects the binary of gender or the assigning of characteristics or behaviours to one gender identity.

Heteronormativity:
This is a viewpoint that is based on the assumption that heterosexuality is the ‘default’ or ‘normal’ sexual orientation, instead of being just one of many possibilities. Heteronormativity is often expressed subtly, but can be seen in advertising, print and electronic media, education, law makers, and a range of attitudes expressed by society in general.

Homophobia:
Homophobia involves a set of beliefs and actions which discriminate against homosexuality (or other sexual orientations). 

Intersex:
The term intersex is a general term assigned to those whose reproductive or sexual anatomy doesn’t fit the typical definitions of either male or female. Genital variance can usually be assigned by doctors at birth, and can lead to a child having corrective surgery to make them appear male or female before they are old enough to consent. Variance in ones reproductive system may not be discovered until later in life during puberty and the development of ones body.

Lesbian:
Lesbian is used to describe sexual or romantic attraction between females.  It is a broad term, and those who identify as lesbian may express their identity in lots of different ways.

Male to female:
(or MTF for short) refers to those who are transgender or transexual and are in the process of transitioning from male to female. Transitioning can involve gender reassignment surgery and/or hormones treatment to reassign their male physical appearance so that it matches their female gender identity. However, one doesn’t have to undergo surgical or hormonal intervention in order to identify as MTF.

Neither:
Someone who doesn’t identify as either male or female but hasn’t specified an alternative label.

Non-binary:
Usually an umbrella term for those who do not prescribe to the separate definitions of male and female (for example: gender variant, gender nonconforming, genderqueer) . A non-binary person can carry this as a gender identity, where they feel neither male or female or both at any given time, or a political identity (or both) where they reject and critique the western binary models of male and female gender identities.

Pansexual:
Pansexuality (omnisexuality) is attraction towards people of any gender identity.  It differs from bisexuality, which is attraction to males and females, in that pansexuals can be attracted to all gender identities, not a specific gender.

Polysexual:
The attraction to multiple genders. Bisexuality and pansexuality are forms of polysexuality. Polysexuality generally rejects the idea of a gender binary (the idea that there are only two genders (male and female)), and recognises gender as a spectrum.

Queer:
Queer is reclaimed word that serves as an umbrella term encompassing diverse sexualities and those who are not sure. This word is used by many people, but it may not be the preferred term for everybody.

Questioning:
People who are questioning their sexuality or gender identity may not yet be sure how they identify.  This is okay!  Many people find that they identify in different ways over the course of their life, and some may never decide on a single term to describe themselves.

Takatāpui:
Takatāpui is a term that historically refers to a partner of the same sex.  Today, it is also used by people who identify as both Māori and queer.  It may include sexuality or gender, and can mean different things to different people. It’s a culturally specific term – which means it does not comply with western ideas of gender identity or sexual orientation.

Transgender:
An umbrella term encapsulating gender identities where an individual’s self identification or gender identity does not match the one associated with their assigned sex at birth. A transgender individual may identify with any gender identity (not only male or female), and may or may not have undergone gender reassignment surgery or hormonal treatment.

Transphobia:
An irrational negative response to transgender and intersex people, as well as other gender identities. Transphobia often carries the assumption that gender is natural, rather than learned and conditioned. 

Transsexual:
(Often mistaken or merged with ‘transgender’) is a term referring to a person who does not identify with the sex they were assigned at birth. The term transsexual is often more closely associated than term ‘transgender’ is with the wish to realign one’s sex and gender identity through the use of medical intervention.

Transfeminine:

An umbrella term for anyone who identifies as nearer the feminine end on the gender identity spectrum – especially, but not exclusively, those who were not assigned female at birth.

Transmasculine:
An umbrella term for anyone who identifies as nearer the masculine end on the gender identity spectrum – especially, but not exclusively, those who were not assigned male at birth.

 

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