Although gender is often understood as a personal identity, gender can also be thought of as cultural. For example, masculinity and femininity have different meanings, presentations and roles across the world. It is important to remember that our conceptions of gender identities and expressions and how they are defined vary greatly, so the definitions of the following terms often vary as well.
The following are definitions of various sexual orientations and gender identities of the LGBTIQ+ community.
The word lesbian often describes women who are exclusively attracted to other women.
The word gay often describes men who are exclusively attracted to other men. It is also used as an umbrella term for people attracted to the same gender.
The word bisexual often refers to people who are attracted to men and women and/or to people who are attracted to more than one gender.
The word transgender, or trans, often refers to people whose gender identity does not correspond to the sex assigned to them at birth.
The term intersex often describes people who were born with sexual characteristics that fall outside of what is typically deemed male or female.
The word queer is often used as an umbrella term to describe people whose identity is not heterosexual and/or cisgender. It can have derogatory connotations, but many have reclaimed this term.
The word asexual often describes people who experience little to no sexual attraction.
Many cultures around the world recognize more than two genders. People of these third or more genders often serve an important role in their respective communities, cultures and societies. As such, they might be seen more as a communal role and less as individual identities like the ones discussed previously.
The following are examples of genders in cultures and societies around the world. The definitions of the following terms may differ depending on the person, as well as local and social contexts. This article was also written in English. For these reasons, the following descriptions may not encapsulate the full personal and cultural meaning and significance of these genders and gender roles.
In Māori culture, whakawāhine are a community of people who often take on feminine gender roles and expressions and may also live and/or identify as women.
Hijras are a community of people in South Asian culture who are traditionally thought of as a third gender. Some hijras identify as transgender, but many do not.
In Indonesia, bissus are the fifth gender of Bugis society. They are thought to encompass all of the gender spectrum and play an important spiritual role in their communities.
Overall, there are many different genders in cultures around the world, and we should recognize and celebrate gender diversity in all of its unique forms.