Understanding Gender Identity Terms

At the Deschamps-Braly Clinic, many of our patients choose Dr. Deschamps-Braly for his expertise in gender-affirming surgeries. This means that many of our patients are transgender, nonbinary, or otherwise gender diverse. It is important to us to maintain a clear understanding of gender identity terms so we can be respectful and accommodating of our patients, and we encourage others to do the same. As you review these gender identity terms, keep in mind that identity and expression is unique to every individual, and these are only general definitions.


Agender means that an individual does not identify as having a gender or does not identify with an existing gender. An agender person may describe this as being genderless or gender-neutral.


Androgyny typically refers to a person’s physical appearance or expression. Rather than describing a particular identity, people of multiple gender identities may prefer an androgynous appearance or quality. This may be a part of their gender expression or simply an aesthetic preference.


A bigender person may fluctuate between traditionally masculine and feminine gender identities or embody both.


A cisgender individual is a person whose gender identity is the same as the sex they were assigned at birth. For example, a cisgender woman would be assigned female at birth, and a cisgender man would be assigned male at birth.

Gender Expression

Gender expression includes our external appearance, including the way we dress or wear our hair, and the way we behave, such as the way we speak or our mannerisms.

Gender Fluid

Gender fluid individuals may experience fluctuations in how masculine, feminine, or nonbinary over time. They may also embody a blend of masculine, feminine, or nonbinary characteristics most of the time. Each gender fluid individual has a unique sense of gender identity, just as any transgender or cisgender person would.


Genderqueer is often used as an umbrella term for those who are gender non-conforming, gender fluid, or nonbinary. A person may use genderqueer as their own identity label, or the term may be used to be inclusive of multiple identities.


Intersex individuals are born with reproductive or sexual anatomy which does not fall into a typical male or female definition. Keep in mind that sex and gender are different. This means that an intersex person’s gender identity may be male, female, or nonbinary/genderqueer regardless of their intersex identity.


Mx. is a gender-neutral title that can be used in place of gendered titles such as Mr., Ms., or Mrs. Mx. is pronounced like the word “mix.”


Neopronouns are typically used by nonbinary or genderqueer individuals and include a range of pronouns beyond he/him and she/her. Some neopronouns include they/them, xe/xyr, ze/zir, or ze/hir (pronounced like the word “here”). If you are unsure of a person’s pronouns, you may politely and respectfully ask and share your own.


Nonbinary is often used as an umbrella term for individuals who are genderqueer, gender fluid, two-spirit, etc. An individual may also use the term nonbinary to define their own gender identity. A nonbinary person may identify with being agender, gender fluid, or a mix between masculine and feminine.


A transgender person is someone whose gender identity is not the same as their sex assigned at birth. We typically think of binary transgender people first, but nonbinary individuals may also identify as transgender. While many transgender people pursue gender-affirming procedures, such as facial feminization surgery or facial masculinization surgery, not all transgender people will.


Two-spirit is a term used by Native American people as an umbrella term for traditional third-gender identities. In many Native American communities, a two-spirit person is someone who has both masculine and feminine characteristics and fulfills a unique social or ceremonial role. Definitions or translations vary based on an Indigenous individual’s tribe or heritage.

Call the Deschamps-Braly Clinic

If you are interested in pursuing a gender-affirming procedure, including both surgical or non-surgical options, schedule a consultation at the Deschamps-Braly Clinic in San Francisco. Call +1-415-877-6585.

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Dr. Deschamps-Braly is a board-certified plastic and craniofacial surgeon specializing in facial plastic surgery, orthognathic (jaw) surgery, and craniofacial surgery for adults and children. He is also one of the world’s foremost leaders and innovators in facial gender confirmation surgery.