UNDERSTANDING THE TERMS
TRANSGENDER: An umbrella term encapsulating gender identities where an individual’s self-identification does not match the one associated with their assigned sex at birth. A transgender person may identify with any gender identity (not only male or female), and may or may not have undergone gender reassignment surgery or hormonal treatment.
TRANSSEXUAL: Often mistaken or merged with ‘transgender’, transsexual also refers to a person who does not identify with the sex they were assigned at birth. But the term is often more closely associated with the wish to realign one’s sex and identity through medical intervention.
CULTURALLY SPECIFIC GENDER IDENTITIES:
Whakawahine, tangata ira tane and takatāpui (Māori), fa’afafine (Samoan), fakaleiti (Tongan), ‘akava’ine (Cook Islands), vaka sa lewa lewa (Fijian), and fiafifine (Niuean).
TRANSFEMININE: A term for those who identify as being more at the feminine end of gender identity – especially those not assigned female at birth.
TRANSMASCULINE: A term for those who identify as being nearer the masculine end of gender identity – especially those who were not assigned male at birth.
GENDER QUEER: Usually an umbrella term to describe those whose identity is neither male nor female. It can also be used as a stand-alone gender identity itself – pertaining to feelings of being neither male nor female, both, or somewhere in between. Gender queer is also a term used to refer to a political standing of rejecting binary gender labels.
INTERSEX: Intersex people are born with sex characteristics that do not fit typical notions of male or female bodies. There are many differing medical conditions that can cause ambiguous or atypical genitalia. At least one in 2000 babies is intersex. Around 30 intersex children are born each year in New Zealand. Being intersex relates to biological sex characteristics distinct from a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
GENDER IDENTITY VERSUS SEXUAL ORIENTATION (put simply):
Gender is between your ears, and sex is between your legs. It’s not who you go to bed with… it’s who you go to bed as.