January 10, 2012

Glossary of Terms

Gender Expression: external characteristics and behaviors that societies define as “masculine” or “feminine,” including features such as dress, appearance, mannerisms, speech patterns, and social behavior and interactions.

Gender Identity: a person's internal, deeply felt sense of being male or female, or something other than or in-between male and female.

Gender Identity Disorder (GID): the formal diagnosis that psychologists and physicians use to describe persons who experience significant gender dysphoria (discontent with their biological sex and/or the gender they were assigned at birth). The International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-10 CM) and Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV TR) classify GID as a medical disorder. The new version of the DSM due in May 2013 will likely replace this category with "Gender Dysphoria." Some authorities do not classify GID or gender dysphoria as a mental illness, describing it instead as a condition for which medical treatment is sometimes appropriate. In Kuwait, GID is a disorder recognized by the Ministry of Health, and the state hospital has issued formal diagnoses to individuals.

Sexual Orientation: often conflated with gender identity, the term refers to a person’s sexual and emotional attraction to members of the same gender (homosexuals, gay men, and lesbians), the opposite gender (heterosexuals), or both genders (bisexuals).

Transgender: someone whose gender identity or gender expression differs from the physical characteristics (or “sex”) with which they may have been born. Understanding their experiences entails recognizing that gender is not the same as biological sex. Biological sex is the classification of bodies as male or female on the basis of biological factors, including hormones, chromosomes, and sex organs. Gender describes the social and cultural meanings attached to ideas of “masculinity” and “femininity.” In this report “transgender” is used as an umbrella term to include transsexual and transgender people.

Transsexual: a transgender person who has undergone, or is undergoing, hormone therapies and/or the complex of cosmetic and reconstructive procedures usually known as sex reassignment surgery (SRS) so their physical sex corresponds to their subjectively experienced gender identity. Not all transgender individuals seek to undergo SRS, but for those who wish to, a formal GID diagnosis is usually necessary.

Transgender women: persons designated male at birth but who identify and may present themselves as women. Transgender women are referred to with female pronouns.

Transgender men: persons designated female at birth but who identify and may present themselves as men. Transgender men are referred to with male pronouns.