Gender Identity What Is Gender Identity? By Arlin Cuncic Arlin Cuncic Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of "Therapy in Focus: What to Expect from CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder" and "7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety." Learn about our editorial process Updated on July 31, 2021 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Margaret Seide, MD Medically reviewed by Margaret Seide, MD LinkedIn Margaret Seide, MS, MD, is a board-certified psychiatrist who specializes in the treatment of depression, addiction, and eating disorders. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Getty / Drew Angerer Table of Contents View All Table of Contents What Is Gender Identity? List of Gender Identities History Society's Perception of Various Genders Resources and Support Gender is separate from sex. Although genetic factors usually define a person's biological sex, people determine their own gender identity. This article explores what gender identity is, definitions of various gender identities, and where individuals can find support. What Is Gender Identity? Because a person's sex and gender identity are separate, it's essential to know the difference between them. Gender Gender Identity Gender is the way someone identifies internally and how they choose to express themselves externally. People can use their appearance, clothing style, and behaviors to express the gender they identify with. The World Health Organization (WHO) perceives gender as a social construct that people typically describe in femininity and masculinity. In many Western cultures, people associate femininity with women and masculinity with men, but this social construct varies. Sex A person’s sex is often based on biological factors, such as their reproductive organs, genes, and hormones. But similar to gender, sex isn’t binary. Someone can have the genes that people associate with males and females, but their reproductive organs, genitals, or both can look different. This is known as differences in sex development. People may also refer to this as intersex. Typically, people use the terms “male,” “female,” or “intersex” regarding a person’s sex. List of Gender Identities There are many different gender identities. The following list includes a few of them: Agender: Someone who doesn't identify with one particular gender or doesn't have a gender at all. Androgyne: Someone whose gender is either both feminine and masculine or in between feminine and masculine. Bigender: Someone that identifies as bigender has two genders. They often display culturally feminine and masculine roles. Butch: Women, particularly lesbians, tend to use this term to describe how they express masculinity or what society defines as masculinity. However, the LGBTQIA Resource Center notes that "butch" can also be used as a gender identity in itself. Cisgender: Someone who is cisgender identifies with the sex they were assigned at birth. For example, a cisgender man identifies with being a male, the sex assigned at birth. Gender expansive: The LGBTQIA Resource Center defines this as an umbrella term used for those who expand their culture's commonly held interpretations of gender. This includes expectations for the way gender is expressed, identities, roles, and perceived gender norms.Gender-expansive people include those who are trans and people whose gender broadens society's notion of what gender is. Genderfluid: Someone who identifies as gender-fluid has a presentation and gender identity that shifts in between, or outside of, society's expectations of gender. Gender outlaw: Someone who refuses to allow society's definition of "female" or "male" to define what they are. Genderqueer: Somebody who identifies as genderqueer has a gender identity or expression that isn't the same as society's expectations for the sex they were assigned at birth or assumed gender. This term can also refer to someone who identifies with a combination of genders. Masculine of center: This term is typically used by lesbians and trans people, who lean more towards masculine expressions and experiences of gender. Nonbinary: Someone who is nonbinary doesn't experience gender within the gender binary. They may also experience overlap with a variety of gender expressions, such as being gender non-conforming. Omnigender: Someone who experiences and possesses all genders. Polygender and pangender: Someone who experiences and displays aspects of multiple genders. Transgender: An umbrella term encompassing everyone who experiences and identifies with a different gender than the one they were assigned at birth. The word also encompasses those who identify as a gender other than man or woman, including nonbinary and genderfluid. Trans: This term is more inclusive because it includes those who identify as nonbinary and genderless, according to the LGBTQIA Resource Center. Two-Spirit: An umbrella term that encompasses a variety of sexualities and genders in Indigenous Native American communities. There are various definitions of Two-Spirit, and Indigenous Native American people may or may not use it to describe their experiences and feelings of masculinity and femininity. It's a cultural term that's reserved for those who identify as Indigenous Native Americans. Glossary of Must-Know Gender Identity Terms History Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and associated identities have been present in various ways throughout history. All cultures have included, with different degrees of acceptance, those who practice same-sex relations and those whose gender, gender identity, and gender expression test current norms. And more recently, issues of sexuality and gender have been politicized. The last fifty years witnessed a rise in political activism surrounding the concept of sex and gender identity. Society's Perception of Various Genders People who are gender diverse or those who don't identify with the gender they were assigned at birth may have a variety of stressful experiences that contribute to an increased risk of mental health issues, such as: Depression Self-harm Suicidal thoughts and ideations However, it’s essential to note that gender diversity, on its own, does not cause mental health problems. Some everyday experiences that can increase someone's vulnerability to developing mental health difficulties are: Feeling "different" or separate from people around youBeing bullied because of your gender identityFeeling pressured to dismiss your feelings concerning your gender identityFear or worry about your gender identity being accepted by your loved ones, alongside the chance of being rejected or isolatedFeeling unsupported or misunderstood by loved onesFeeling stressed and concerned about the pressure to conform to your biological sex. These pressures can be very stressful, especially when combined with other issues in your life, such as managing school, finding a job, forming relationships, and making sense of who you are and your place in the world. Resources and Support If you're struggling to come to terms with your gender identity or are being bullied or feeling isolated or depressed, there are many resources available that can provide the support and care that you deserve: The Trevor Project, which is an LGBT organization that provides resources, education, and support The National Center for Transgender Equality, an organization that provides support for transgender people PFLAG, an organization that provides assistance, education, and aid throughout the United States, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico Trans Youth Family Allies, a website that offers resources and education to family members, friends, and allies of transgender people Gender Spectrum, a resource and education site. World Professional Association for Transgender Health, a website with a directory of healthcare providers for transgender people. Mental Health Resources to Support the LGBTQ+ Community A Word From Verywell Not everyone accepts people with diverse gender identities, which can harm a person's mental health. However, there are multiple organizations that people can turn to for support. No matter your gender, you are deserving of love, support, and care. The Best Online Therapy Programs We've tried, tested and written unbiased reviews of the best online therapy programs including Talkspace, Betterhelp, and Regain. 3 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. World Health Organization. Gender. LGBTQIA Resource Center. LGBTQIA Resource Center Glossary. American Psychological Association. History of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Social Movements. By Arlin Cuncic Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of "Therapy in Focus: What to Expect from CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder" and "7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety." See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist Online Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.