Chapter 6: Gender, Sexuality, and Culture

Key Terms

Understanding key terms can help demystify many perceptions associated with gender concepts. Becoming familiar with this vocabulary will facilitate learning in this chapter and, ideally, support you in engaging in conversations with diverse people. Keep in mind that language continues to evolve, and there can be many different ways to describe the same concept.

The list of key terms provided here is a small subset of a much larger set of gender-related terminology (Donald, 2014; Department of Justice, 2022; Women and Gender Equality Canada, 2022a).

2SLGBTQQIA Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual (Egale Canada, n.d.)
Binary A division into two groups that are considered distinct and opposite
Cisgender People whose gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth
Colonialism The policy of taking political and economic control of a territory and the people who are Indigenous to that area; underpinned by racist doctrines of superiority
Colonization The action or process of settling and taking political and economic control of a territory and the people who are Indigenous to that area; underpinned by racist doctrines of superiority
Gendered Characteristic of, suited to, or biased toward or against a specific gender
Gender-diverse Individuals who do not identify as exclusively male or exclusively female; for example, individuals who are non-binary or Two-Spirit
Gender expression The way in which people publicly present their gender through aspects such as dress, hair, makeup, body language, and voice
Gender identity A person’s internal and deeply felt sense of being a man or woman, both, or neither; a person’s gender identity may or may not align with the gender typically associated with their sex
Heteronormativity A cultural or societal bias, often implicit, that assumes all people are straight and so privileges heterosexuality and ignores or underrepresents same-sex relationships (National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, 2019)
Heterosexism Prejudice and discrimination in favour of heterosexuality; includes the presumption of heterosexuality as the superior and more desirable form of attraction
Heterosexual An individual sexually attracted to people of the opposite sex or gender
Indigenous identity Individuals who identify as First Nations, Inuit, or Métis
Intersectionality The interconnected nature of various social or identity factors, such as sex, gender, age, race, ethnicity, Indigenous identity, economic status, immigrant status, sexual orientation, disability, and geography, as they apply to a given individual or group, viewed as impacting experiences of discrimination or disadvantage. For example, intersectionality recognizes that Indigenous women hold more than one identity. They are women and share some common experiences with other women, and they are Indigenous and have shared experiences with Indigenous men. Trying to understand Indigenous women’s experiences by focusing only on sex or only on Indigenous identity prevents us from seeing how these identities intersect to create a unique lived experience for Indigenous women that is different from the experiences of Indigenous men and non-Indigenous women.
Men All people who identify as men, whether they are cisgender or transgender men
Non-binary A person whose gender identity does not align with a binary understanding of gender such as man or woman; a non-binary person may identify as neither a man nor a woman, both, or anywhere along the gender spectrum
Sex assigned at birth A person’s biological status as male, female, or intersex based on their primary sexual characteristics at birth
Sexual orientation This can refer to behaviour (whether a person’s partner or partners are of the same or the opposite sex) and to identity (whether a person considers themself to be heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual)
Trans An umbrella term that refers to transgender, non-binary, and other gender-diverse people; the opposite of cisgender
Transgender A person whose current gender does not align with the sex that they were assigned at birth
Two-Spirit person An umbrella term for an Indigenous person who identifies as having both a female and male spirit within them or whose gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, or spiritual identity is not limited by the binary classification of gender as woman or man
Women All people who identify as women, whether they are cisgender or transgender women


Learning Activity 1: Key Terms

In this activity, you will use the list of key terms above to fill in keywords for each description.

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