Everything You Need to Know About Sexual and Gender Identities

February 3, 2015  |   Found in Editorial // Q Center News // Student Life

It’s Sex Week! The best time of the year to learn more about sex, gender, identities, consent, and all the other good stuff that makes up human life! You know about gay and lesbian identities… but what about the other ones? Here’s an insider guide to learn all about it.

Asexuality is defined as an orientation where people never or rarely experience sexual attraction, but like most sexual orientations, it exists on a spectrum with many subcategories of identity. Similarly, aromantic folks do not experience romantic attraction.

This uses the Greek word “pan”, meaning “all”, so this orientation is attracted not to every person, but can be attracted to any type of person of any gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation. This orientation functions completely outside of the binary of male/female.

Bisexuality can often be confused with pansexuality, and depends largely on the person. Bisexuality can be synonymous with pansexual in that bisexual individuals can be attracted to their own gender or other genders; or it can mean that an individual is attracted to men and women.

Poly folks have the capacity for multiple partners. These partners may all be similar relationships or very different. The most important thing to remember about poly is that all relationships are consensual, all partners are aware of the polyamorous nature of the relationship, and communication is key.

Queer is the wonderful reclaimed word for the LGBTQAAIT+ community that can be used either as an umbrella term to describe any gender or sexually non-conforming identity, or it can also be a personal identity for people who may not self-identify as only lesbian, gay, bisexual, etc.

Gender Identity
Gender identities can be compatible with the sex that a person is assigned at birth or completely different. Biological sex refers to a person’s physical body and the sex that they were assigned at birth, but gender is what a person identifies themselves as.

Agender folks are people who do not identify with any gender, and may present themselves as androgynous or otherwise nonconforming to the gender binary.

Similar to agender, this identity is non-conforming but it is far from the lack of gender. Genderqueer identities completely create their own gender expression which does not fit entirely in either masculine or feminine boundaries, or may shift along the scale between these identities.

The trans* umbrella is a huge group of folks who do not identify as the sex that they were assigned at birth. Genderqueer can fit under this umbrella. Fun fact: a person does not need to want or start a physical transition in order to be trans*. Trans* folks can choose to subscribe to the binary and identify as a man or woman, or identify anywhere in between! This may include non-binary pronouns like “he” or “she”. Many trans* people prefer using “they”, “ze”, and other pronouns that suit them better. Best way to get pronouns right? Just ask politely how people like to be called! Gender is fluid and the trans* community shows the full spectrum of what gender can be.

A biological termreferring to a person’s body being intermediate between male and female. Intersex individuals may decide as they grow up that they identify with one gender more than another or may identify with both.

Two Spirited
This is a First Nations term for an individual who has both a masculine and feminine spirit living together inside their body. Two Spirited individuals were seen to have a gift and performed both traditionally feminine and masculine duties.

Cisgender means that a person’s assigned sex, body, and gender identity are aligned. As with other gender identities, cisgender is also fluid. There are endless expressions of what it means to be a man or woman that you can see on people every day like women that feel bold with a bowtie and men that feel badass with eyeliner.


None of these identities are mutually exclusive to each other. Cisgendered people can be bisexual and poly, agender folks can be pansexual, a transgender man (assigned female at birth) can be gay- there really are no limits. The most important part of Sex Week is to ask honest questions and to learn. We’re all humans doing our own thing so just be respectful of bodies and differences!

For more information, come visit the Q Centre at MacEwan Student Centre 210, or email at qcentre@ucalgary.ca

Andrea is a fourth year English and Urban Studies combined major, and currently works as an Events Coordinator for the Students’ Union.  She is President of Amnesty International, President of the Scribe and Muse English Club, the English Representative of the Faculty of Arts Students’ Association, and VP Promotions for Queers on Campus. Andrea loves Doctor Who, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and architecture. Check her out on Twitter and Instagram @aoakunsheyld