gender identity terms

The conversation around gender identity is evolving in general and at work.

It’s a complex and delicate subject with a lot of diverse terms. Because of this, mistakes happen. For example, if refer to a colleague with a pronoun they don’t use that could cause problems in the workplace.

In this article, we’ll explain the meaning of gender identity and the different terms you should know.

Let’s dive in.

What is Gender Identity?

Gender identity is the gender someone identifies with. The problem occurs when people confuse gender and sex — they aren’t the same thing.

Sex is assigned to an individual at birth. Gender identity is how someone feels about their gender on a personal level. It’s a deep understanding of who they are and this helps them become their authentic selves in the world and in the workplace.

Making an effort to understand gender and identity concepts is one way to ensure diversity and inclusion in today’s society.

Now for the list of gender identity terms. Note: They’re organized in alphabetical order for ease of reading.


Ally: Ally is a phrase used to describe someone who supports the LGBTQIA+ community.

Aliagender: A term that describes a gender identity that doesn’t fit the existing societies’ gender constructs.

Androgyne: A person who has a gender identity or presentation that’s gender-neutral, or has both feminine and masculine characteristics.

AFAB: An acronym meaning “assigned female at birth”.

Agender: This term can be translated to “as without gender”, meaning the person doesn’t identify with any gender.

Aporagender: This phrase is a non-binary umbrella term that describes the experience of having a gender that’s different from a woman, man, or any combination of the two.


Boi: A phrase used in the LGBTQIA+ communities of color that describes a person who has a gender or sexuality that’s considered “boyish”.

Butch: Commonly used in the LGBTQIA+ community, this phrase describes a person with sexuality, gender, or presentation that’s considered masculine.

Bigender: This phrase refers to someone who identifies with two or more different genders. For example, they may identify as male or female. Bigender is considered a non-binary gender identity. Also, a bigender person can express one of their genders at different times or at once.


Cishet: This phrase refers to a person who is both heterosexual and cisgender.

Cross-dresser: This gender identity term refers to someone who wears clothing that isn’t the norm for their perceived gender. This phrase is used for men who wear women’s clothing. This type of man may do it for self-expression or other reasons. But being a cross-dresser doesn’t equal being transgender.

Cisgender: Cisgender refers to someone who exclusively identifies with the gender and sex they were assigned at birth.


Demigender: This phrase refers to a person with non-binary gender identities, meaning they don’t have a complete connection with any gender. This person can sometimes feel like he has a mix of both genders and other times no gender at all.

Drag queen/king: A drag king performs masculinity in a comedy for entertainment purposes. A drag queen performs femininity.

Dyadic: Dyadic refers to people with sex characteristics such as internal organs, hormones, chromosomes, or anatomy that can be categorized into the binary sex framework of female or male. Dyadic only shows information about a person’s sex characteristics but doesn’t convey anything about their gender.

Deadname: This is the name assigned at birth that a person doesn’t identify with. A “deadname” indicates the idea that the name is no longer how someone identifies.

Demigirl: A nonbinary gender identity that indicates a person partially identifies as a woman, girl, or feminine. A Demi girl can either be trans or cisgender.

Demiboy: A Demi boy is a nonbinary gender identity that represents an individual who partially identifies as masculine, man, or boy. The phrase Demi boy tells you about a person’s gender identity but doesn’t provide information about the sex assigned to them at birth. Also, a Demi boy can be trans or cisgender. 


Ethnogender: This phrase refers to people whose gender identity is influenced by their ethnic background.

Exgender: This term refers to an individual who doesn’t identify with any gender. And they also tend to have a detachment from the term gender.


Female: This term refers to a person who identifies as a lady.

Female-to-male (FTM): The term FTM is used to refer to transmasculine, and trans men who were assigned female at birth. But this term should only be used if someone wants to be addressed that way because not all transmasculine and trans men use the term.

Feminine presenting: This term refers to someone with an outward gender expression that appears feminine. It can for example, be shown through body language, style, mannerisms, style, etc.

Family of choice: The partners, circle of friends, and people that LGBTQIA+ persons decide to associate with because they get support and a feeling of belonging from them.

Femme: This is an expression that describes a gender that leans toward or is feminine. Some people who identify as femme may also identify with “woman” terms while others won’t. The term femme also indicates the way an individual experiences their gender and doesn’t show information about the sex assigned to them at birth.

Feminine-of-center: Feminine-of-center describes people who experience their gender as femme or feminine. This phrase provides information about a person’s gender identity but that doesn’t mean it’s the sex assigned to them at birth.


Gender identity: This phrase refers to the way a person experiences gender. Gender identity develops and changes over time. Also, the gender identity of a person can’t be assumed based on social norms, stereotypes, and appearance.

Gender expansive: A term used to describe people who don’t conform to the world’s view of gender ie male and female. The people in this group can include non-binary people, trans people, and more.

Gender expression: This is the way a person expresses gender through appearance, mannerisms, interests, and physical characteristics. It’s often described by using terms such as feminine, neutral, conforming, nonconforming, and masculine. But these terms can change or be different depending on stereotypes, and social, or cultural norms.

Gender binary: This term is also known as gender binarism. It refers to gender classification systems that organize sex or gender into two mutually exclusive categories for example masculine/feminine or woman/man.

Gender-apathetic: This refers to a person who doesn’t identify with any gender labels.

Gender-neutral pronouns: These pronouns aren’t culturally or stereotypically categorized as feminine or masculine or for women and men. Gender-neutral pronouns are used by both transgender and cisgender people as a way to affirm their identity and how they want people to refer to them.

Examples include:

  • They/Them/Theirs
  • Ze/Hir/Hirs
  • Ze/Zir/Zirs
  • Xe/Xem/Xyrs

Gender non-conforming: This gender identity term is used to describe a person with a gender presentation or identity that’s different from society’s norms and the stereotypes associated with the individual’s assigned sex at birth.

Gender non-conforming isn’t a gender identity but some people use it to identify themselves. It doesn’t show any information about the way a person experiences gender internally. People of any type of gender can be non-conforming.

Gender presentation: This term is similar to gender expression and describes the way a person uses interests, physical characteristics, appearance, behavior, and mannerism to convey a type of gender externally.

Gender questioning: This is an individual who’s questioning multiple or one aspect of their gender, for example, gender expression or identity.

Gender roles: These are the interests, mannerisms, or behaviors that a culture or society assigns to a certain type of gender and the activities expected of that person based on their perceived gender. Gender roles can change over different cultures and times.

Gender variant: Similar to gender non-conforming. It describes people who don’t conform to society’s set standards of there being two genders.

Genderfluid: This term is used to describe both gender expression and identity. It involves the experience and process of having a gender that changes over a period of time. For example, from day to day, from moment to moment, month to month, decade to decade, and year to year.

Genderfuck: Similar to “gender bender” and involves the act of dismantling gender stereotypes through presentation, or expression that challenges existing expectations or norms in the society.

Genderqueer: This is a non-binary gender identity term that describes a person with a gender that isn’t exclusively woman or man, or exclusively feminine or masculine. Genderqueer people experience gender in different ways. These ways can include both, neither, or a combination of woman, man, or non-binary genders.

Gendervoid: A phrase that describes a person without gender identity. 

Graygender: This is a gender term that describes a person who experiences gender identity and expression differently and doesn’t conform to binary gender that’s exclusive to man or woman.


Intergender: A non-binary gender identity that describes a person’s experience of having a gender that is somewhere in between man and woman or is a mix of both woman and man.

Intersex: This is someone born with characteristics that can’t be categorized as female or male (e.g., hormones, chromosomes, reproductive organs). 

For example, a woman could be born with XY chromosomes and a man be born with ovaries instead of testes. From research, intersex occurs at a rate of 1 in 1500 births. However, the doctors assign them female or male at birth regardless of being intersex.

Intersex people identify with the opposite sex, identify as intersex, or identify with the sex assigned to them at birth. And they don’t usually identify as transsexual or transgender.


LGBTQ+: An internationally recognized acronym representing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and people.

“Lived” Gender Identity: This is the gender a person feels internally and expresses publicly in their daily life such as when at work, in the community, and when shopping.


Maverique: This is a non-binary gender identity that describes the inner experience of gender. It describes those people who experience a gender identity that doesn’t relate to the existing categories of gender such as woman, man, feminine, masculine, neutral, and androgynous.

Masculine-presenting: These are the people with a gender expression they consider masculine. It can include outward expression through physical characteristics, style, mannerisms, and body language.

Masculine-of-center: These are the people who identify as masculine. They may or may not identify as a man. Also being a masculine-of-center doesn’t show someone’s assigned sex at birth.

Misgender: This is referring to a person using a gendered language or pronoun that’s incorrect, or not including the gender identity of that person.

Male-to-female(MTF): This phrase is used to refer to trans women and transfeminine people who were assigned the male sex at birth. Before referring to someone using this term, please ask them if they prefer to be referred to that way because not all trans women use it.

Multi-gender: An umbrella term used to describe a person who experiences more than one gender identity. There are other labels in this multi-gender umbrella category such as:

  • Trigender
  • Bigender
  • Pangender
  • Polygender


Non-binary: Non-binary is used to refer to people who don’t identify as either male or female. If you’re not sure how to refer to a person who identifies as non-binary, kindly ask them what they would love to be referred to as, and the pronouns they use.

Neutrois: This umbrella term and non-binary identity is used to describe someone who has a gender that isn’t completely woman or man. Neutrois is a broader term that encompasses other gender identities, for example agender, genderfluid, or genderless.

Novigender: This phrase is used by people who experience a complex gender identity that can’t be described using existing gender language.


Out of the closet: Refers to a person being open about their gender identity with others. This phrase is common with people in the LGBTQ+ community.

Omnigender: This is someone who identifies with all gender identities.


Pangender: Similar to omnigender, this non-binary gender identity describes someone who experiences many or all gender identities.


Queer: This term was previously used as a derogatory word for transsexual and transgender individuals. But it has since been accepted by the LGBTQ+ community.

Questioning: This is someone who is in the process of questioning their gender identity and is open to exploring other options.


Sex: This is the classification of someone as female, intersex, or male based on the existing system of biologies and human bodies. This system is based on hormones, chromosomes, secondary characteristics, and internal and external reproductive organs.

Sex assigned at birth: The sex assigned to someone based on the existing biological classification system.


Transgender: This is an umbrella term for every person who identifies with a gender other than the one assigned to them at birth. This can include trans women or trans men and non-binary gender identities such as agender, genderqueer, and genderfluid.

Trans-man/Trans-woman: A trans man is a person who was assigned the “female” sex at birth but now identifies as a man. On the other hand, a trans woman is a person who was assigned the “male” sex at birth but now identifies as a woman.

Third-Gender: This term is non-western and comes from native cultures. It describes the gender categories that don’t divide into female or male.

Transfeminine: This is having a feminine gender identity but being assigned a different sex at birth.

Transpositive: This is the opposite of transphobia. This is the action of accepting and validating transgender and transsexual people and celebrating their rights.

Transitioning: This term describes the activities engaged in by trans people to affirm their gender identity for example changing their clothing, sex designation, pronouns, name, etc. This can include sex reassignment surgery, hormone therapy, etc. This process is different for everyone and the activities involved not every trans person has to go through them.

Transsexual: This is someone whose gender identity is different from the sex they were assigned at birth. Transsexual commonly means the person has done gender-affirming surgeries and has completely gone through their transition.

Transmasculine: Used to refer to someone who has a masculine gender identity.

Trigender: This is the experience of a person having three genders at the same time.

Transphobia: This is the aversion, fear, intolerance, discrimination, violence, hatred, and prejudice aimed at trans communities based on misconceptions and stereotypes.

Two-spirit: This is an important phrase in different indigenous cultures. There’s no set definition for this term, however, it’s used to describe the spiritual view of sexuality and gender. It can be used to describe gender identity, sexual orientation, or spiritual identity.


Xenogender: This is an umbrella term that includes non-binary gender identities that can’t be categorized to society’s norms of male/female, feminine/masculine, etc.


Ongig’s mission is to help you create an inclusive workplace. One way our software can help is by showing you how to write inclusive gender-neutral job descriptions.

Please book a demo today to learn more.


  1. Understanding What it Means to be Non-Binary (by Healthline)
  2. Gender pronouns (by the University of Wisconsin)

by in Diversity and Inclusion