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Michigan State University

DEI Resources: Gender & Intersectionality

Definitions

AFAB: An abbreviation for “assigned-female-at-birth,” a term frequently used, often by the transmasculine community, as a self-descriptor. “Assigned-at-birth” serves to imply that sex assignment is without the agency of the individual.

Agender: A gender identity term for individuals who often conceptualize their gender as not aligning with gender categories, having no other words that quite fit, and not caring about the project of gender altogether. 

AMAB: An abbreviation for “assigned-male-at-birth,” a term frequently used, often by the transfeminine community, as a self-descriptor. “Assigned-at-birth” serves to imply that sex assignment is without the agency of the individual.

Bigender: A gender identity term for a person identifying as two genders, either simultaneously or varying between the two. 

Cisgender: A gender identity term for individuals whose gender identity aligns with their birth-assigned sex.  Cisgender people receive benefits that trans and nonbinary don’t have.

Gender: Socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that a given society deems masculine or feminine. This social construct is often linked to and confused with the biological construct of sex. Many, if not all people display traits associated with more than one gende

Gender expression: The way in which someone expresses their gender, either consciously or unconsciously. This can encompass everything that communicates our gender to others, including clothing, hairstyle, body language, manner of speaking, social interactions, and gender roles. Most people have some blend of masculine and feminine qualities that comprise their gender expression, and this expression can also vary depending on the social context. There is not always a direct translation between gender identity and gender expression. A person’s gender expression may or may not align with the way people attribute gender to that person. 

Gender identity: The way in which a person conceptualizes themself as a gendered being or the language a person uses to describe their internal understanding of their gender. Also, one’s innate and personal experience of gender. This may or may not align with one’s gender expression or gender attribution.

Intersectionality operates under the premise that people possess multiple, layered identities, including race, gender, class, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and ability, among others.  Intersectionality refers to the ways in which these identities intersect to affect individuals’ realities and lived experiences, thereby shaping their perspectives, worldview, and relationships with others.

Third Gender: 1. A person who does not identify with the traditional genders of “man” or “woman,” but identifies with another gender; 2. A gender category available in societies that recognize three or more genders.

Transgender or Trans: A gender identity term for an individual whose gender identity does not match or is at some distance from their assigned-sex-at-birth. For some folks, transgender and/or trans are considered to be umbrella terms.

Trans Man: A man who was assigned female (or intersex) at birth.

Transmisogyny: The intersection of transantagonism and misogyny; hatred, hostility, violence targeted towards transgender women. Transmisogyny is about the hatred of the feminine. It relies on an understanding that women and characteristics coded as feminine are inferior to men and those qualities coded as masculine and therefore are deserving of hatred, mockery, and violence. Trans women experience a particular kind of sexist marginalization based on the fact that they are both trans and feminine. They are devalued by society on both accounts. Trans and gender non-conforming people who do not necessarily identify as women, but who present feminine characteristics are also targeted. Hate crimes against trans people are disproportionately and tragically high, with Trans women of Color being the most targeted. We see transmisogyny in state violence as well. Trans people experience disproportionately high rates of poverty and homelessness caused by discrimination in jobs and housing, and also experience greater incarceration rates, largely due to gender profiling by the police.

Transphobia: Fear, hatred, and intolerance of transgender, nonbinary, genderqueer, and gender nonconforming people, or those who break, blur, or transgress assigned gender roles and the gender binary. 

Trans Woman: A woman who was assigned male (or intersex) at birth. 

For additional definitions for key gender and sexuality terms, MSU's Gender and Sexuality Campus Center has created a thoughtfully curated glossary of terms. 

Anti-Violence Project. Glossary. University of Victoria.

Intergroup Resources, “Intersectionality (2012).

The Gender and Sexuality Campus Center. Glossary. Michigan State University.

Intersectionality

Transgender

Gender Identity/Expression

Black Women, Black Feminism, and Intersectionality

Women

Michigan State University