Identity Terms

The following terms refer to some common identities that people may have within and outside the 2SLGBTQ+ community. This is not an exhaustive list of all identities that exist.

For “The Big Four” concepts that will help you understand these terms, click here. For some other terms that relate to the 2SLGBTQ+ community, please click here.

 
 
 

2SLGBTQ+

 

an acronym which stands for “two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and more”.

— These differing communities are linked by their shared experiences of homophobia and transphobia.
— The plus sign (+) recognizes the many other identities who may likewise be affected by heteronormativity and cisnormativity.
— There are many variations of this acronym which include other identities.
— CANVAS prioritizes 2S (two-spirit) at the front of this acronym to honour the Indigenous land we live on, to acknowledge the long history of gender and sexual diversity on Turtle Island, and to recognize the ways in which colonialism forces homophobia and transphobia onto Indigenous communities where these discriminations did not originally exist.


 

ALLY

A person who doesn’t share a particular identity, but advocates for the safety, rights, and liberation of that community.

— For example, a non-2SLGBTQ+ person who supports the acceptance of the 2SLGBTQ+ community might be considered an ally.
— Perhaps “being an ally” is the term that should be used. Allyship is not an identity that you can claim; rather, it is an ongoing, continuous process of learning and acting in solidarity with people who experience discrimination.
— Being an ally involves asking how you can provide support; listening and being open to having your views challenged; using your time, money, and connections to give power to others; and speaking up against your peers who are showing prejudice.


 

AGENDER

 

a non-binary gender identity; a person who does not identify with any gender, or who identifies as genderless.

SEE: “What Being Non-Binary Means” comic by Jeffery Kinglsey


 

ASEXUAL

 

a PERSON who experiences little or no sexual attraction.

— Asexual people may still experience romantic attraction, and may have a romantic identity in addition to their sexual identity. For example, an asexual person who is romantically interested in two or more genders may identify as biromantic as opposed to bisexual.
— Asexuality is a spectrum. People can also identify as grey-asexual if their sexual attraction falls into the “grey-area” between “typical” sexual attraction and “total” asexuality.
— Sometimes shortened to “ace”.


 

AROMANTIC

 

A PERSON who experienceS little or no romantic attraction (i.e. crushes).

— Aromanticism is a spectrum. People can also identify as “grey-romantic” if their romantic attraction falls into the “grey-area” between “typical” romantic attraction and “total” aromanticism.
— Sometimes shortened to “aro”.


 

BIGENDER

a non-binary gender identity, a person who identifies as both man and woman or other genders.


 

BISEXUAL

a person who is attracted to two or more genders.

— Different people define bisexuality different ways. Some explain it as being attracted to the both the same gender as themselves as well as other genders than themselves.
READ: “Two Sides of the Same Coin” poem by Michelle


 

BOY / MAN

a gender identity that relates to masculinity, though has a different exact meaning for everyone; can refer to cisgender or transgender people.


 

CISGENDER

 

a person whose gender identity aligns with their sex assigned at birth.

— For example, a person who was assigned male at birth and understands themselves to be a man is a cisgender man.
— This is sometimes shortened to “cis”.


 

DEMIBOY / DEMIGIRL

a non-binary gender identity

— A demigirl sometimes identifies as a girl/woman, or identifies with aspects of femininity.
— A demiboy sometimes identifies as a
boy/man, or with aspects of masculinity.


 

DEMISEXUAL

a person who only experiences sexual attraction once they have formed a strong emotional connection to someone

— This term is most commonly found in the asexual and grey-asexual community.


 

FEMALE

a person who is assigned THE SEX “female” at birth.

— Doctors and parents might say a baby is “female” based on body parts, sex chromosomes, and/or hormones.
— In the general population, this is often used interchangeably with “woman”, which is a gender identity.


 

GAY

a term for people who are attracted to the same gender as themselves.

READ: “Devil Cry” short story by Diego Lorrén


 

GENDERFLUID

a non-binary gender identity; a person who’s gender changes between identities over time or between situations.


 

GENDER NON-CONFORMING

 

A person whose GENDER EXPRESSION OR GENDER IDENTITY falls outside of what is expected of someone with their gender or sex.

— A person who is gender non-conforming can be trans, but does not have to be. For example, a girl who identifies as a “tomboy” or dresses in masculine clothing might be considered gender non-conforming.


 

GENDERQUEER

A NON-BINARY Gender identity; related to the word queer.


 

GIRL / WOMAN

a gender identity that relates to FEMININITY, though has a different exact meaning for everyone; can refer to cisgender or transgender people.


 

INTERSEX

 

A person whose ANATOMY OR BIOLOGY AT BIRTH does not not fit into the traditional categories of “male” and “female

— A person can be intersex when their combination of reproductive organs, hormones, and/or chromosomes vary from the medical understandings of “male” and “female”. For example, someone with XY chromosomes (associated with maleness) and a uterus (associated with femaleness) could be considered intersex.
— People who are labelled intersex when they are born (usually due to ambiguous genitalia) often receive non-consensual surgery or hormones as they grow up, in order to make them fit the “male” or “female” category.  These invasive medical procedures can have damaging effects on body functions as well as mental health.
— Some people discover they are intersex at puberty (where they may experience changes they didn’t expect), or when they attempt to conceive children.


 

LESBIAN

A woman who is attracted to other women, or who identifies with the lesbian community.

SEE: “Untitled” story and illustration by L.A. Hodge


 

MALE

a person who is assigned THE SEX “male” at birth

— Doctors and parents assign the sex “male” based on body parts, sex chromosomes, and/or hormones.
— In the general population, this is often used interchangeably with “man”, which is a gender identity


 

NON-BINARY

A GENDER IDENTITY DESCRIBING a person who identifies outside the gender binary of “man” and “woman”.

— A non-binary person might identify as being both, neither, changing between the two, or something else beyond a “man” or “woman”.
— Non-binary people often consider themselves part of the transgender community.
SEE: “What Being Non-Binary Means” comic by Jeffery Kinglsey


 

PANSEXUAL

a person who is attracted to all genders, OR A PERSON WHOSE ATTRACTION IS NOT LIMITED BY GENDER.

— A pansexual person is not necessarily attracted to every human being, but may find that gender does not play a role in who they are attracted to.
— A similar term is bisexual.


 

QUEER

An umbrella term for people who are not straight and/or not cisgender.

— The 2SLGBTQ+ community is sometimes referred to as “the queer community”
— This was historically a hurtful word, but was reclaimed by some 2SLGBTQ+ people to describe themselves.


 

QUESTIONING

 

when a person is uncertain about their sexual or romantic orientation, and/or gender identity

— A person can be questioning at any age, and may do so multiple times throughout their life.


 

STRAIGHT

A person who is attracted to a different gender from their own.

— For example, a man who is attracted to women could be described as straight.


 

TRANSGENDER

A term for a person whose gender identity does not “align” with the sex they were assigned at birth in the way that society expects.

— For example, a person who was assigned male at birth, but understands themselves to be a woman might call themselves a transgender woman.
— A person who was assigned male at birth, but understands themselves to be non-binary might also consider themselves transgender.
— This is sometimes shortened to “trans”.
— People can identify as transgender regardless of if they can or want to medically transition.


 

TRANSSEXUAL

An older term for a person who is transgender, though THIS TERM is less preferred nowadays.

— This term usually indicated that a person had transitioned medically. Because not all trans people can or want to medically transition, the term “transgender” or “trans” is more popular.


 

TWO-SPIRIT

 

A newer term that references historical gender traditions in many Indigenous North American cultures (i.e. First Nations, Métis, and Inuit).

— Two-spirit might refer to an Indigenous person who settlers would consider queer or trans.
— Throughout history, many Indigenous nations did not have a gender binary and recognized gender identities beyond “man” and “woman”. These exact identities varied from nation to nation.
— Because of ongoing colonization, many Indigenous peoples no longer know the words in their ancestral languages to describe this diverse spectrum of genders and sexualities. “Two-spirit” was coined as a temporary alternative while ancestral words are being remembered and reclaimed.
— Two-Spirit refers to both gender/sexual identity AND spiritual and community responsibilities. In many historical traditions, two-spirit people have important community roles, like healers and teachers.