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Gender-Affirming Language

It is important that research studies and research teams are aware of different gender identities when creating their studies. Simple actions such as including affirming gender identities in demographics forms and seperating gender identity from assigned-sex (ex: using pregnant-persons instead of pregnant-women) can help us ensure that all research participants feel welcome and included in our projects.  The Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing (ISGMH) has additional resources on this topic. The list below is a starting point for guiding your study formulation.

Identity is individual and these definitions may vary/may be used differently by each person and may evolve over time. 

  • Affirming: Acknowledging and supporting the identity of an individual 
  • Ally: A person who is not LGBTQ+ but shows support for LGBTQ+ people and promotes equality
  • Cisgender/Cis: Term used to describe people whose gender identity is the same as their sex assigned at birth 
  • Gender Expression: An individual’s characteristics and behaviors such as appearance, dress, mannerisms, speech patterns, and social interactions that are perceived as masculine, feminine, both, or neither
  • Gender Identity: A person’s internal, deeply-felt sense of being male, female, something in between, or something else.  Gender identity is not determined by body parts or sex assigned at birth 
  • Gender Expansive (Nonconforming/Creative): Gender expressions that fall outside of societal expectations for one’s sex assigned at birth
  • Intersex:  A general term used for the many ways in which a person can be born with chromosomes, reproductive anatomy, and/or genitalia that do not fit the typical definitions of female or male
  • LGBTQ+: A commonly used acronym referring to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer community. The plus acknowledges that there are additional identities within the community. Other iterations include LGBTQQIA (adding Questioning, Intersex, Asexual/Aromantic)
  • Misgendering: When a person intentionally or accidentally uses the incorrect name or pronouns to refer to a person. Repeated or intentional misgendering is a form of bullying.
  • Non-Binary Gender: A term that reflects gender identities that don’t fit within the binary of male and female. Individuals may identify as any gender, neither, or some mixture thereof. Some terms under this umbrella: genderqueer, gender fluid, agender, bigender, etc. Some non-binary folks may use they/them/theirs or other neutral pronouns 
  • Outing: When someone discloses information about another person’s sexual orientation or gender identity without that person’s knowledge and/or consent
  • Pronouns: A word used to refer so someone without using their name. Common pronouns include, but are not limited to: they/them, she/her, he/him 
  • Queer: A term that has been embraced and reclaimed by many in the LGBTQ community as a symbol of pride, representing individuals who identify outside of the typical expectations for gender and/or sexuality
  • Sex Assigned as Birth: Typically, the assignment of “male” or “female” at birth by a medical professional based on visible body parts. This binary assignment does not reflect the natural diversity of bodies or experiences
  • Sexual Orientation: The gender or genders to which one is romantically, emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted. Sexual orientation is distinct from, and unrelated to, gender identity
  • Transgender/Trans: Individuals with an affirmed gender identity different than their sex-assigned-at-birth. Transgender can be used as an umbrella term that encompasses diversity of gender identities and expressions. Applies to identity, not body parts