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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)

A collection of resources related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

My Friend is Transgender

What is Gender?

Gender is the socially constructed ideas about the behavior, actions, and performed by a particular sex. Gender is fundamentally different from sex assigned at birth.

Gender affirming refers to actions or behaviours that validate someone’s gender, such as using someone’s correct pronouns (gender affirming language). 

Gender attribution/gender perception refers to assumptions about gender based on an individual’s outward appearance and/or behaviour. In this context, it is important to understand a few additional terms:

  • Being read: Assumptions about gender identity, sex assigned at birth, or sexual orientation based on an individual’s outward appearance and/or behaviour.
  • Passing to: Refers to a LGBTQ2+ person perceived as cisgender and/or heterosexual or being not visibly LGBTQ2+. Passing or blending is important to some people, but not to others. It may be done purposefully for safety or other reasons, or inadvertently. 

Gender bending refers to dressing or behaving in a way that counters traditional masculine or feminine characteristics.

Gender binary is the concept that there are only two genders, that those genders are opposite and distinct, and that everyone belongs to one of the two.

Gender expansive is someone who identifies with a broader and more flexible concept of gender. Can be an umbrella term for someone who is exploring their gender expression and/ or gender identity.

Gender expression refers to how someone publicly shows or presents their gender through their appearance, name, preferred pronouns, speech, and behaviour. Gender expression can align with gender identity but is separate.

Gender identity is how someone internally, mentally, or psychologically perceives their gender. Someone’s gender identity can align with or differ from the gender they were assigned at birth. A person’s gender identity can change over time as they learn about themselves and learn more terminology. Gender identity is distinct from biological sex.

Gender non-conforming (GNC) is an umbrella term for someone who identifies or expresses themselves outside of the gender binary. The term may refer to someone who identifies as trans or it may not.

Genderqueer is an umbrella term for someone who identifies or expresses themselves outside of the gender binary or who does not follow gender stereotypes.


Someone who does not identify with any gender or does not see themselves as aligning with all or any masculine or feminine characteristics. Other terms include gender neutrois, gender neutral, or genderless.

Someone who identifies outside of the gender binary, who’s gender expression is outside of the gender binary, or who identifies with both feminine and masculine characteristics. This is no longer a frequently used term as it often refers to AFAB women who are masculine presenting.

These terms are used to describe someone’s gender assigned at birth and were created to acknowledge arbitrary assignments of gender.

Someone who moves between masculine and feminine identities or characteristics. They may sometimes identify as a man and sometimes as a woman.

The gender identity of someone who identifies with the same gender assigned to them at birth. The term is often shortened to ‘cis’.

Ciscentrism is the assumption by individuals or society that everyone is cisgender, that cisgender is the default, ‘normal’, or superior. 

Cissexism refers to the actions that discriminate against or exclude transgender people based on the belief that cisgender is what is ‘normal’ or superior. 


An umbrella term used to describe a person whose gender identity is anything other than their sex assigned at birth. The term is also used more narrowly to describe someone who identifies as or is transitioning/has transitioned to the ‘opposite’ sex. May be shortened to ‘trans’.

Transition is the process of changing one’s gender expression to align with their gender identity. Transition is not a linear process and is a deeply personal experience. There are four general aspects of transition:

  • Social: name, pronouns, clothing, hair, etc.
  • Medical: hormone therapy
  • Surgical: gender affirming surgeries
  • Legal: changing legal identification, birth certificate, driver’s license, passport, etc

Someone who is trans and identifies or presents as masculine. 

Someone who is trans and identifies or presents as feminine.

Transphobia that is based on misogyny, or the idea that masculinity and maleness is superior, targeted at trans women and transfeminine people.

Fear, dislike, or hatred of and discrimination against trans people. Transphobia exists in various ways, such as:

  • Offensive jokes
  • Exclusion
  • Denial of services
  • Employment discrimination
  • Intentional misgendering
  • Harassment
  • Violence

Two-Spirit was a term introduced by Elder Myra Laramee in 1990 at the third annual Native American and Canadian Aboriginal LGBT people gathering in Winnipeg.

It is “an English umbrella term to reflect and restore Indigenous traditions forcefully suppressed by colonization, honouring the fluid and diverse nature of gender and attraction and its connection to community and spirituality. It is used by some Indigenous People rather than, or in addition to, identifying as LGBTQI”.

The teachings, roles, and responsibilities for a Two-Spirit person differs from community to community. Not all queer Indigenous people use this term, but Two-Spirit is an identity specific to being Indigenous and can only be claimed by Indigenous people.