Pride logo

A Guide To Gender Identity

Times are changing. We are becoming more accepting and loving - which is incredible. But understandably, there are a lot of terms and it can become confusing, so here is my quick guide to Gender Identity terms.

By Rebecca SmithPublished 3 years ago 5 min read
Top Story - June 2021

*Firstly, I just want to say a huge thank you to my wonderful friend, for helping me write this piece. He is a Trans Man and one of the most incredible people I know.*

In recent years, issues in equality have been highlighted and explored. This is particularly true, for issues surrounding acceptance of transgender and non-binary people. There has been a lot of discussion about their rights and how they are represented in the media, etc. This, however, can bring up a lot of terms that many people may not be familiar with, or even struggle to understand. Sometimes, people can come across as rude, or non-accepting, purely because they have used the incorrect term, or said something that they didn’t realise meant something else.

I myself am a cis-gendered female. But, one of my closest friends is a trans man, and with his help, we have written this ultimate guide to the terms most used and their meanings. So, if in doubt, take a read. We want you to feel confident in knowing that you’re helping the cause, by being accepting of all. We know there are a lot of terms, and it can be quite confusing, but honestly, if you don’t know, just ask! No one will be offended if you genuinely want to understand but don’t. It’s all about communication, listening to people and growing.

Of course, just a little disclaimer, this list isn’t every single term. This was written in the UK, by Western writers. Whilst we did look into terms from other countries, we are purely listing the terms we are confident about – as we do not wish to cause offence. So, if there is a term that you use, that isn’t listed here, please know that we are just writing what we know. This is in no way exhaustive, nor does it claim to be.

The Basics

Sex – This usually refers to a person’s biological status that is assigned at birth. There are three categories within this, and they are: male, female or intersex.

Gender – This is the one we are all familiar with, as it is a social construct of how we are expected to behave. The three categories here are: male, female and non-binary.

Gender Identity – This is where your own sense of self comes into play. Where you know who you are, whether it is the sex you. Were assigned at birth, or not. For many people, their gender is the same assigned at birth, but for others, it differs. This is not to be confused with Gender expression – as identity is not outwardly visible, whereas Gender Expression is how someone outwardly presents their gender.

Gender Expression – As mentioned before, gender expression is what a person presents themselves to be, through clothing, voice, characteristics, etc. Whilst the general public perceives this as male and female, the ideas behind those genders actually vary from culture to culture.

Cisgender – This is a person who identifies with the sex that they were assigned with at birth.

Transgender (also known as trans) – This is an adjective which describes someone who identifies as a different sex to what they were assigned with at birth. A Transgender man, for example, was assigned a female at birth, but his gender identity is male.

Non-binary – This is the term used for a person who does not describe themselves or their gender, as fitting into male or female. This is very similar to –

Agender – This is an adjective used to describe a person who does not identify as any gender.

Gender-Expansive – This can describe someone who has a more flexible gender identity that typically associated with gender norms.

Gender Transition – This is a process whereby a person brings themselves and their body into alignment with their gender identity. This can be opening up to family, changing their name and pronouns, having hormone therapy and eventually, have gender-confirmation surgery.

Gender Dysphoria – This is the term given to the psychological distress that some trans people go through, due to the hardship and hurdles of being ‘born in the wrong body.’ Like with many distresses, there are varying levels of how it affects a person’s mental health.

Sexual Orientation – This refers to the romantic attraction to another person. The most common sexual orientations are: straight, gay, lesbian and bisexual. There are, however, more orientations, but that will perhaps come in another post, as this one is dealing more with gender identities, as opposed to sexual orientation. But, I just want put this out there – LOVE IS LOVE.


Everyone has pronouns. In fact, if you studied A-Level English, you’re probably very familiar with them, and the effect they have when used correctly, or incorrectly. Using the correct pronoun for someone, is a really simple way to affirm their identity. Correct use of pronouns shows that you accept them as who they are, not at what they were assigned at birth. It’s basically you non-verbally saying ‘I accept you. I support you.’

I’ve heard some people say ‘well, what am I meant to call them then? It?’ I shouldn’t have to tell you that that is so disgustingly rude and frankly, unnecessary. The easiest way to really know what someone’s pronouns are, are to give your own. For example, I would introduce myself like this: ‘Hi, I’m Rebecca, my pronouns are she/her.’

I understand that it may seem awkward at first, but the more you do it, the easier it is. And honestly, knowing that it’ll cause a lot less problems down the line, it’s better to feel a little award for thirty seconds or so.

Some people may not be fully comfortable in expressing their pronouns in some settings, but I’d still encourage you to introduce yourself with your pronouns, as it is still affirming that you accept everyone, and it may help them to eventually feel comfortable enough to open up to you, and/or others.

‘They’ has always been used as a singular pronoun to speak about someone in general, especially if you don’t know them. However, non-binary people actually use ‘they’ as their pronoun. So, if someone corrects you, just listen. They know it’ll take time, but as long as you’re trying – all will be well.

Learning people’s pronouns can take time – especially if you’ve known them for years and they are just starting to transition. No one expects you to be perfect. Just try your best and remember to always be inclusive and respectful of people’s wishes. If you make a mistake… just apologise! Honestly, as long as you’re not being malicious, everyone will just laugh and move on. There’s no need to worry or be uptight… people will generally know if you’re being offensive or not.

I honestly hope this has been somewhat helpful for you. Never be afraid to ask if you're unsure. We all just want to love and be loved. So be respectful and inclusive and let everyone get on with their lives, how they want to live it.

Let's keep on progressing!


About the Creator

Rebecca Smith


Just be f*cking nice 🙌

Enjoyed the story?
Support the Creator.

Subscribe for free to receive all their stories in your feed. You could also pledge your support or give them a one-off tip, letting them know you appreciate their work.

Subscribe For Free

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  1. Expert insights and opinions

    Arguments were carefully researched and presented

  2. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  3. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  4. Masterful proofreading

    Zero grammar & spelling mistakes

  5. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

Add your insights


Rebecca Smith is not accepting comments at the moment

Want to show your support? Send them a one-off tip.

Rebecca SmithWritten by Rebecca Smith

Find us on social media

Miscellaneous links

  • Explore
  • Contact
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Support

© 2024 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.