Gay and straight are to sexual orientation as transgender and cisgender are to ______

What word would fit best in the blank here? Some options that don’t quite seem to fit:

  • Gender orientation: Doesn't seem to have widespread adoption or a well-defined meaning.
  • Gender identity: It would seem more appropriate to say something like “my gender identity is female” rather than “my gender identity is cisgender”. The categories don’t align.
  • Gender expression: This refers only to the outwardly visible aspects of gender, not to how a person actually identifies.
  • Answers go in the answer-box. Please do not answer in comments. Also, comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – tchrist
    Feb 14, 2021 at 14:43

2 Answers 2


Gender identity is the best phrase here. While you’re right that it’s sometimes used interchangeably with gender, it’s also often used as a category label for cis/transgender (and sometimes, in addition, including gender itself), like in the following examples:

‘cis’ means cis-gender, meaning the gender you identify as matches the sex you were assigned at birth i.e. I was born female and identify as a female, therefore my gender identity is cis-female. — Identity: definitions and a guide to.

I’m a queer cis woman. Queer is my orientation, I am a lesbian woman attracted to other women. My gender identity is cis, which means that I identity as the gender I was assigned at birth. — UU Studio

This group is also for teens whose gender identity is cis-gender, transgender, non-binary, gender neutral, gender queer, or those questioning their gender identity. — Harmony Center

  • Nice, thanks for the examples! I guess my conceptualization of this term is too rigid for how it's actually used in real life. Feb 14, 2021 at 15:19

By far, "gender identity" seems to be the best choice.

Gender identity is the personal sense of one's own gender. Gender identity can correlate with a person's assigned sex at birth or can differ from it. Gender expression typically reflects a person's gender identity, but this is not always the case. While a person may express behaviors, attitudes, and appearances consistent with a particular gender role, such expression may not necessarily reflect their gender identity. The term gender identity was originally coined by Robert J. Stoller in 1964. All societies have a set of gender categories that can serve as the basis of a person's self-identity in relation to other members of society. In most societies, there is a basic division between gender attributes assigned to males and females, a gender binary to which most people adhere and which includes expectations of masculinity and femininity in all aspects of sex and gender: biological sex, gender identity, and gender expression. Some people do not identify with some, or all, of the aspects of gender assigned to their biological sex; some of those people are transgender, non-binary, or genderqueer. Some societies have third gender categories. Gender identity is usually formed by age three. After age three, it is extremely difficult to change gender identity. Both biological and social factors have been suggested to influence its formation. Wikipedia

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