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Sex, Gender and Diversity Glossary

Agreeing on gender terminology is essential to building gender inclusive services and respectful, compassionate client service interactions.

The following definitions are adapted from the Government of Canada’s Gender and sexual diversity glossary for the Women, Gender and Equality Virtual Panel.

Veteran
Any former member of the Canadian Armed Forces who releases with an honorable discharge and who successfully underwent basic training.
Gender Based Analysis Plus (GBA+)
An analytical process that provides a rigorous method for the assessment of systemic inequalities, as well as a means to assess how diverse groups of women, men, and gender diverse people may experience policies, programs and initiatives. The “plus” in GBA+ acknowledges that GBA+ is not just about differences between biological (sexes) and socio-cultural (genders). We all have multiple characteristics that intersect and contribute to who we are. GBA+ considers many other identity factors such as race, ethnicity, religion, age, and mental or physical disability, and how the interaction between these factors influences the way we might experience government policies and initiatives.
Intersectionality
The complex, cumulative way in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination (such as racism, classism and sexism) combine, overlap, or intersect especially in the experiences of marginalized individuals or groups.
Gender equality
The concept that all human beings, regardless of their gender, are free to develop their personal abilities and make choices without the limitations set by stereotypes, rigid gender roles and prejudices, and that the different behaviours, aspirations and needs of people of all genders are considered, valued and favoured equally.
Gender equity
The fair treatment of people of all genders, according to their respective needs. This treatment can be different, but must be equivalent in terms of rights, benefits, obligations and opportunities.
Sex assigned at birth
The sex of a person based on their primary sexual characteristics at birth. This is also referred to as sex.
Intersex
A term that describes a person whose primary sexual characteristics at birth do not meet the medical criteria of the male or female sex.The term “intersex” refers to biological sex features. It does not refer to sexual orientation or gender identity.
Gender
A person’s status in society as a man, woman or non-binary person. While sex is understood only in terms of biological features (ex. Sex assigned at birth), conceptions of gender are influenced by several factors including biological features, cultural and behavioural norms and individual experience.
Gender identity
A person’s internal and deeply-felt sense of being man or woman, both, neither, or somewhere along the gender spectrum. A person’s gender identity may or may not align with the gender typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth. Gender identity is not necessarily visible and is not related to sexual orientation.
Gender expression
The appearance usually associated with a gender. Gender can be expressed, for example, through behaviour, clothing, hairstyle, voice inflections and body language. A person’s gender expression is not necessarily associated with their gender identity.
Sexual Orientation
Includes, for example, asexuality, bisexuality, heterosexuality, homosexuality and pansexuality
LGBTQ2
An acronym standing for the categories of lesbian, gay, bisexual (those who are attracted to both men and women), transgender, intersex, queer (a self-identifying term used in some gay communities), questioning, and two-spirit. There are many different acronyms that may be used by various communities. It should be noted that acronyms like these may combine sex, gender, and sexual orientation attributes into one. This combination may or may not be appropriate in all circumstances, and GBA+ analysis should be specific where appropriate.
Gender and sexual diversity
A phrase that is considered to be more inclusive that “LGBT” because it does not specify any gender identity or sexual orientation whatsoever.
Cisgender
A person whose gender identity aligns with their sex assigned at birth.
Non-Binary (also ‘nonbinary’)
A person whose gender identity does not align with a binary understanding of gender such as man or woman. Non-binary people may redefine gender or decline to define themselves as gendered altogether.
Transgender
A person whose gender does not align with their gender assigned at birth.
Two-spirit (also 2-spirit)
A North American Indigenous person who embodies both female and male spirits or whose gender identity, sexual orientation or spiritual identity is not limited by the male/female dichotomy. This term is used to reflect the complex Indigenous understanding of gender and sexuality and the history of sexual and gender diversity in Indigenous cultures. Therefore, a person who is not of Indigenous descent should not self-identify as a two-spirit person.
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