What is SOGI?

What is SOGI? Terms and Definitions

Sexual orientation and gender identity can be complex and each person has their own SOGI. Organizations like Trans Student Educational Resources, encourage understanding of how an individual can identify on the SOGI spectrums. The Gender Unicorn illustrates the distinction between gender identity, gender expression, sex, and attraction.

Many people and organizations use “LGBTQ+” as an inclusive acronym representing the diverse range of sexual orientations and gender identities. The descriptors these initials represent are always evolving, but some of the most common terms are listed here.

Lesbian: A woman who is emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to other women. Women and non-binary people may use this term to describe themselves.

Gay: A person who is emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to members of the same gender. Men, women and non-binary people may use this term to describe themselves.

Bisexual: A person emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to more than one sex, gender or gender identity though not necessarily simultaneously, in the same way or to the same degree. Sometimes used interchangeably with pansexual.

Transgender: An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or expression is different from cultural expectations based on the sex they were assigned at birth. Being transgender does not imply any specific sexual orientation. Therefore, transgender people may identify as straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc.

Queer: A term people often use to express a spectrum of identities and orientations that are counter to the mainstream. Queer is often used as a catch-all to include many people, including those who do not identify as exclusively straight and/or folks who have non-binary or genderexpansive identities. This term was previously used as a slur, but has been reclaimed by many parts of the LGBTQ movement.

Questioning: A term used to describe people who are in the process of exploring their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Note - Definitions on this page were taken from: The Human Rights Coalition Glossary. It is important to note: 1) Terms and definitions can change, thus expanding the glossary; 2) Not all LGBT individuals within the community agree will agree with these terms and definitions; 3) The glossary may be missing some terms and definitions.

The Gender Unicorn

Gender Identity: A person’s internal sense of being a man/male, woman/female, both, neither, or another gender.

Gender Expression/Presentation: The way a person acts, dresses, speaks, and behaves (i.e. feminine, masculine, androgynous). Gender expression does not necessarily correspond to assigned sex and birth or gender identity.

Sex Assigned at Birth: The assignment and classification of people as male, female, intersex, or another sex based on a combination physical and biological attributes. of anatomy, hormones, chromosomes.

Sexual Orientation: How a person characterizes their emotional and sexual attraction to others.

  • Physically Attracted To: The attraction based on an individual’s physical traits or characteristics.

  • Emotionally Attracted To: An attraction based on emotional/romantic connection.


Support for LGBTQ Youth Starts at Home

The Institute for Innovation and Implementation at the University of Maryland, Baltimore School of Social Work (The Institute) has partnered with the Biden Foundation to create an animated short focused on family acceptance of youth with diverse sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression (SOGIE).