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The gender identity terms you need to know

The CBSN Originals documentary, “Gender: The Space Between,” debuts on  CBSN Monday, March 27, at 8 p.m. ET and will be available afterwards on

The latest CBSN Originals documentary, “Gender: The Space Between,” takes a deep dive into the complexities of gender identity and gender expression. While transgender stories have become more visible in the media, there are many identities and terms outside of the two most culturally accepted genders — man and woman — that fall under the trans umbrella. And in many social circles, the vocabulary related to gender identity is unfamiliar or inaccessible.

Gender identity is an extremely personal part of who we are, and how we perceive and express ourselves in the world. It is a separate issue entirely from sex, our biological makeup; or sexual orientation, who we are attracted to. There are dozens of dynamic and evolving terms related to how people identify. While this glossary cannot cover every possible identity a person might have, it provides definitions for some of the most common vocabulary necessary to understand the layered world of gender.

Below is a guide to some of the topics and terms discussed in “Gender: The Space Between,” as defined by the  Human Rights Campaign , GLAAD The Trevor Project , and the National Center for Transgender Equality .

Gender Identity Definitions

Agender: A term for people whose gender identity and expression does not align with man, woman, or any other gender. A similar term used by some is gender-neutral.


Brin Solomon, a graduate student at NYU, identifies as agender.

CBS News

Androgynous:  Identifying and/or presenting as neither distinguishably masculine nor feminine.

Bigender:  Someone whose gender identity encompasses both man and woman. Some may feel that one side or the other is stronger, but both sides are present.

Binary:  The gender binary is a system of viewing gender as consisting solely of two identities and sexes, man and woman or male and female.

Cisgender: A term used to describe someone whose gender identity aligns with the sex assigned to them at birth.

Dead name: How some transgender people refer to their given name at birth.

Gender dysphoria: Clinically defined as significant and durational distress caused when a person’s assigned birth gender is not the same as the one with which they identify.

Gender expression:  The external appearance of a person’s gender identity, usually expressed through behavior, clothing, haircut or voice, and which may or may not conform to socially defined masculine or feminine behaviors and characteristics.

Gender fluid:  A person who does not identify with a single fixed gender, and expresses a fluid or unfixed gender identity. One’s expression of identity is likely to shift and change depending on context.

Gender identity: A person’s innermost concept of self as man, woman, a blend of both, or neither – how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves. Gender identity can be the same or different from one’s sex assigned at birth.

Gender non-conforming: A broad term referring to people who


The difference between sexual orientation and gender identity

The CBSN Originals documentary, “Gender: The Space Between,” debuts on  CBSN Monday, March 27, at 8 p.m. ET and will be available afterwards on

It’s a common misconception that gender identity and sexual orientation are connected. If someone is transgender, for example, many people automatically assume that they must also be gay. That, however, is not the case. Gender and sexuality are different, and it’s an important distinction to understand.

“People often perceive that they intersect. But many of us are working very hard to unhinge one from the other,” said sj Miller, deputy director at NYU’s Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools. “They’ve been conflated for so long, and they’re completely different.” 

Gender identity is defined by the Human Rights Campaign as the “innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend of both or neither – how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves.” It can mirror what a person was assigned at birth, or be entirely different. There are dozens of genders, outside of just man or woman, that people can identify with.

Sexual orientation, on the other hand is the “inherent or immutable enduring emotional, romantic or sexual attraction to other people.” Basically, it’s who you are interested in dating and being intimate with. Someone can be transgender, but also be gay, straight, bisexual, asexual, or a whole host of other sexual identities that exist. 

“Sexuality is who you go to bed with, and gender identity is who you go to bed as . That’s the simplest way I can describe it,” explained YouTuber Brendan Jordan, who identifies as gender fluid.

But it is often not that simple. Most of the transgender and gender non-conforming people who spoke with CBS News said it’s not uncommon for others to become preoccupied with their identity and sexual orientation.


CBS News

“[Sexuality] really doesn’t have anything to do with gender at all,” said Ela Hosp, a 19-year-old non-binary student at the Kansas City Art Institute. “But there is a huge thing with like ‘Well, what, if you don’t identify as a female, then are you gay? Do you not like boys, do you like girls?’ And that’s just a whole other thing.”

People’s preoccupation with gender and sexuality can come to the forefront in the dating world.

“A lot of people are really concerned with what genitalia you have, that’s what they want to know. So there have been instances with relationships that could have worked out perfectly fine if you weren’t non-binary, and after that person found out that you were, everything changed,” Hosp continued.


CBS News

Quinn Diaz, a non-binary transgender man living just outside of Los Angeles, echoed that sentiment. “When you’re trans, I feel like people try to sexualize you a lot, or romanticize you. So that’s been very uncomfortable.” 


Tinder now offers 37 different gender identities, and the option to write in your own


In response to this, dating apps like Tinder amended their profile options


Republican health care bill on the brink?

Another GOP “No” Vote

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ)  is the latest to announce he intends to vote against the GOP health care bill, bringing the number of House Republicans in that camp to 35. Only 22 no votes are needed for the measure to be rejected in that chamber. 

Last-minute meetings ahead of vote

12:56 a.m. : The House Rules Committee will meet Friday at 7 a.m. to discuss the Republican health care bill. An amendment to the bill has been filed with the panel by House Speaker Paul Ryan. According to CBS News’ Catherine Reynolds, the four-page amendment includes:

  • Transferring control to states to define Essential Health Benefits, which would give states the ability starting in 2018 to determine EHBs for individuals purchasing insurance with a tax credit 
  • Dedicate an additional $15 billion to the Patient and State Stability Fund (PSSF) to provide resources for services included in the EHBs, including maternity, mental health, and substance abuse care  
  •  Delay the repeal of the Medicare Tax Increase for six years, until January 1, 2023; those resources would pay for the increased funds to the PSSF

The House Freedom Caucus met Thursday night, but didn’t announce how they would vote Friday. Rep Justin Amash (R-MI) said as he left the meeting that he thought the majority of the Freedom Caucus would oppose the bill and it will fail on Friday.

Friday evening, Republican leaders 

New timing for health care vote

8:50 p.m.  After calling off the health care vote today, a source in House leadership now says the plan is to vote Friday, CBS News’ Catherine Reynolds reports. Multiple members confirmed the timing, although it’s still not clear whether or not the measure has the votes to pass the House.

White House OMB Director Mick Mulvaney came to the GOP conference with a message to deliver: Negotiations are over. He told them President Trump wants a vote tomorrow, and then he will move on to his other priorities. 

If Republicans fail, we are stuck with Obamacare, Mulvaney warned, and we all get blamed. 

The Congressional Budget Office also released a new score for the bill Thursday. It’s unlikely to change any minds, given that the manager’s amendment earlier this week had a minimal impact on the score. The numbers of uninsured remained unchanged (there are still expected to be 24 million more people uninsured under the AHCA, than under the ACA in 2026), but the revised measure would be a little worse for deficit reduction, cutting $151 billion, instead of the $337 billion in the original bill. The higher costs are a result of the repeal of some of the Obamacare taxes, other changes to the tax code and to Medicaid per capita allotments.

House Speaker Paul Ryan made an extremely brief statement to reporters after the conference meeting: “For seven and a half years we have been promising the American people that we will repeal and replace this broken law and tomorrow we’re proceeding,” he said.

He did not


Drug-resistant TB threatens decades of progress

The rise of


What are the Obamacare essential benefits?

In a last-minute effort to win Republican votes, GOP leaders told conservatives they would repeal the essential health benefits former President Barack Obama’s health overhaul requires insurers to cover. 

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