People identify as a gender based on factors that stretch beyond the sex assigned at birth. Though many societies define people as male or female, there are more than two genders. People may identify their gender as different than their sex based on their self-concept and how they feel. People can be more or less masculine, feminine, neither, or something else. A person’s gender identification is a more accurate representation of their gender than sex. Visual appearance is not always a clear indicator of a person’s gender identification.

The pronouns used to refer to a person (she/her, he/him) often reflect their gender identity, though some people prefer a combination of “they/them” for various reasons, such as a nonbinary person or someone who rejects the attitudes pronouns can reinforce.

Examples of Gender Identity

  • Transgender
  • Two-Spirit
  • Cisgender
  • Non-Binary
  • Genderqueer
  • Gender fluid
  • Gender Neutral

Researching Gender Identity

A person’s gender identity is based on how they feel and perceive themselves. Researching gender identity can give designers insights into how a person defines their identity in their own words, despite their sex. Because gender identification can be viewed differently in some cultures—especially those that only espouse binary gender identities—researching gender identity can require special care. Still, empowering a person to define themselves despite social norms gives them personal agency and recognizes their rights to feel like and be who they are.

Questions to Ask

  • How does this person define their gender?
  • In what ways could this person be marginalized because of who they are?

Look For

  • A person shares their gender identification.
  • The way a person dresses (be careful; what a person wears is not always a clear indication of their gender identity)
  • How a person’s gender identification is a source of belonging or possibly a reason why they are shunned.



Updated: June 22, 2024 1:36 pm
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