Language & Terminology

Pride in Sport Australia acknowledges that language and terminology can have an impact (positively and/or negatively) on people who play our sport. There are four key aspects we must consider when understanding how people identify, these include:

  • Sex (biology)
  • Gender identity (brain)
  • Gender expression (culture)
  • Sexuality (orientation)

Breaking the binary © 2019 Pride in Sport Australia (ACON Health Ltd)


Trans and gender diverse communities are disproportionately affected by prejudice-motivated discrimination and violence.

The health and wellbeing outcomes of people with trans and gender diverse experience are directly related to transphobic stigma, prejudice, discrimination and abuse, including when incorrect language is used, often unknowingly.

The below key terms are as described by Pride in Sport Australia* and Sport Australia** offers examples of language that can help us build safer, more inclusive environments for LGBTI+ communities.


    Assigned female at birth/Designated female at birth



    Assigned male at birth/Designated male at birth



    These are inclusive umbrella terms that describe people whose gender is different to what was presumed for them at birth. Trans people may position ‘being trans’ as a history or experience, rather than an identity, and consider their gender identity as simply being female, male or a non-binary identity. Some trans people connect strongly with their trans experience, whereas others do not. The processes of transition may or may not be part of a trans or gender diverse person’s life. Terms such as ‘cross dresser’ and ‘transvestite’ aren’t typically used by trans and gender diverse people to describe their gender experience.



    Genders that sit outside of the female and male binary are often called non-binary. This includes people whose gender is not exclusively female or male. A person might identify solely as non-binary, or relate to non-binary as an umbrella term and consider themselves genderfluid, genderqueer, trans masculine, trans feminine, a-genda, bi-gender, or something else.



    The personal process or processes a trans or gender diverse person determines is right for them in order to live as their defined gender identity and so that society recognises this. Transition may involve social, medical/surgical and/or legal steps that affirm a person’s gender.

    • Social transition is the process by which a person changes their gender expression to better match their gender identity. This may include changing their name, pronouns, and appearance.
    • Medical transition is the process by which a person changes their physical sex characteristics to align with their gender identity. This may include hormone therapy, surgery or both.
    • Legal transition is the process by which a person changes their identity documents, name, or both, to reflect their gender identity. This may include changing their gender marker on a passport or birth certificate, or changing their name on a driver’s licence or bank card.



    A term used to describe people who identify their gender as the same as what was assigned to them at birth (male or female). ‘Cis’ is a Latin term meaning ‘on the same side as’.



    Trans, transgender, gender diverse, cis and cisgender are all experiences of gender and are distinct from male, female and non-binary gender identities.



    The distress or unease sometimes experienced from being misgendered and/or when someone’s gender and body personally don’t feel connected or congruent. Many trans and gender diverse people do not experience gender dysphoria at all, and if they do, may cease with access to gender affirming healthcare and/or peer support. With or without the presence of gender dysphoria, being trans and/or gender diverse is not a mental illness. Gender dysphoria does not equal being trans or gender diverse.



    The marker or classification recorded when a child’s birth is registered. E.g. In NSW, this is either M or F. This marker can be amended to either M, F or X.



    Physical parts of the body that are related to body development/regulation and reproductive systems. Primary sex characteristics are gonads, chromosomes, genitals and hormones. Secondary sex characteristics emerge at puberty and can include the development of breast tissue, voice pitch, facial and pubic hair etc. The term ‘sex characteristics’ is more accurate than ‘biological sex’, ‘biologically male’ or ‘biologically female’. Physical organs and chromosomes should not be gendered as male or female, the gendering of body parts is a significant source of stigma, discrimination and pathologisation.



    Where something is based on a discriminatory social or structural view that positions (either intentionally or otherwise) the trans experience as either not existing or as something to be pathologised. Cissexism believes that gender identity is determined at birth and is a fixed and innate identity that is based on sex characteristics (or ‘biology’) and that only binary (male or female) identities are valid and real.



    ‘Intersex status’ is a protected attribute under the Act. Under the Act ‘intersex status’ means the status of having physical, hormonal or genetic features that are:

      • neither wholly female nor wholly male
      • a combination of female and male, or
      • neither female nor male.
    • The term ‘intersex’ does not describe a person’s gender identity (man, woman, neither or both). A person born with a variation in sex characteristics may identify as a man, woman, neither or both.



    ‘LGBTQI’ (or variations of it) is an acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning and intersex. It is used to refer collectively to these communities. The ‘LGB’ refers to sexuality/sexual identity; the ‘T’ refers to gender identity; and the ‘I’ refers to people who have an intersex variation. ‘Q’ can refer to either gender identity or sexuality.



    ‘Pronouns’ are a grammatical means of referring to a person or persons. Conventional pronouns are ‘she/her/hers’ and ‘he/him/his’. Some people prefer to use gender neutral pronouns, such as ‘they/them/their’. The pronoun a person uses to describe themselves generally reflects their gender identity.


  • SEX

    ‘Sex’ refers to a person’s biological sex or sex characteristics. These may be genetic, hormonal, or anatomical. Unlike ‘gender identity’, ‘sex’ is not defined in the Act.


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