What’s Gender Identity? What Does Transgender Mean?


What’s Gender Identity? What Does Transgender Mean?

Gender identity is what someone feels is their gender. That means that how someone’s private parts or how they look has nothing to do with their gender identity.

When people are born, they’re assigned a gender based on the genitals a doctor can see. A lot of people who are transgender feel like their gender is different from the one a doctor said it was.

Some people might feel like a man, a woman, a combination of these, or another gender. Other people might feel like no gender fits them. Someone’s gender identity can change too! Over time, people can change how they feel about their gender.

The word “trans” can include people who identify as transgender, genderqueer, non-binary, two-spirit, agender, cross-dresser, and many more.

What does transgender mean?

When people are born, they’re assigned a gender based on the genitals a doctor can see. A lot of people think that when you’re assigned a sex like male, female, or intersex as a baby, that should be the same as the gender you identify as. But that’s not true. A lot of people don’t feel like their assigned sex is the same as their gender identity. Those people are transgender.

People who are transgender might make changes to their bodies. This helps them match how they look to how they feel. Any changes a trans person makes to their bodies is a personal choice.

Some transgender people take hormones to change the way they look. Other people might also get gender-affirming surgeries. These surgeries can change someone’s chest, privates, or other body parts.

A lot of trans people choose not to make any changes to their bodies. Everyone deserves to have their identity respected no matter how they dress, act, or change their bodies.

What does cisgender mean?

Cisgender people identify with their assigned sex. So, if someone is assigned female at birth and identifies as a woman, that makes them cisgender.

A lot of cisgender people don’t question their gender identity. They feel like their assigned sex is the same as their gender identity.

What does non-binary mean?

Non-binary people might feel like their gender isn’t a man or woman. They might feel like they’re a mix of both, another gender, or neither. Many gender identities fall under the non-binary umbrella.

There’s a big range of non-binary people. Some of them also identify as transgender.

What does intersex mean?

It’s important to know that sex isn’t the same as gender. Sex is things like your privates, hormones, and chromosomes. Many people think there are only two sexes, male and female. But, there’s actually more.

Some people are born with a mix of traits that makes it hard to assign them a sex. For example, someone could be born with a penis and a uterus. People who are born with a mix of different traits are intersex. Some people who are intersex know their whole lives. Others learn about it during puberty or medical procedures.

People who are intersex can identify with any gender. Some might identify as a man, woman, non-binary, transgender, or something else. There’s a huge variety!

What are pronouns?

Pronouns are the way you talk about someone when you’re not saying their name. For example, they went to the store for their favorite snack. Some common ones are he/him or she/her. But some people use other pronouns to express their gender identity. Some people use they/them or ze/zir. Other people might use a mix like she/they or they/he.

If you ever don’t know someone’s pronouns, it can help to ask them or someone who would know!

There are lots of ways people identify and all of them are okay! No matter what, it’s important to respect everyone’s identity.


More info

Transgender Glossary of Terms

GLAAD’s reference guide of general and transgender-specific words and phrases. Also describes common derogatory words and what terms should be used instead. –


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