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Manitoba

Healthy Living and Seniors

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Healthy Sexuality | Gender Identity and Gender Expression


There is often confusion between "sexual orientation" and "gender identity", however the two are very different. Sexual orientation refers to an individual's emotional and sexual attraction. Gender identity refers to an individual’s sense of being male, female or an identity in between or outside these categories.

Understanding gender, gender identity and gender expression. 

Gender refers to the attitudes, feelings, and behaviours that a given culture associates with a person’s biological sex. Behaviour that is compatible with cultural expectations is referred to as gender-normative; behaviors that are viewed as incompatible with these expectations constitute gender non-conformity.

Gender identity refers to an individual’s sense of self as ‘male’, ‘female’ or an identity between or outside these categories. The majority of people have a gender identity that matches their biological sex and/or that matches societal expectations for males and females. However, there are individuals whose gender identity does not match their anatomical sex or that conflicts with societal expectations for males and females. There are a spectrum of gender identities such as male, female, transgender, two-spirit, genderqueer, bigender, genderfluid, transsexual, gender creative, pangender, transmen, transwomen, genderindependent, agender, Male to Female (MTF), Female to Male (FTM), intersex, and/or something else.

Gender expression refers to the way a person communicates, demonstrates, or ‘expresses’ their personal concept of gender identity to others through their behaviours, dress, grooming, voice or body characteristics. For many persons, gender identity and gender expression is consistent with their biological/anatomical sex (cisgender) and/or the societal expectations for being/acting male or female. However, for others, their gender identity does not reflect their anatomical/biological sex. Gender, like sexual orientation, is diverse and includes multiple gender identities.

For more information on supports and resources relating to Gender Identity and Gender Expression please see the links below: