Sexual orientation is commonly categorized based on the gender towards one holds an emotional, romantic, sexual or affectional attraction. Sexual orientation exists on a wide spectrum, and differs across cultures. In the West, the terms most commonly used to define one’s sexual orientation, are: gay (same-gender attraction between people who identify as men), lesbian (same-gender attraction between people who identify as women), straight (attraction to someone of a gender different from one’s own), bisexual (attraction towards individuals of any gender), queer (an umbrella term for non-straight sexual orientations), as well as asexual (the lack of/or minimal sexual attraction towards anyone).

Gender identity refers to an individual’s sense of being masculine, feminine, two-spirit, trans (which includes, but is not limited to: transgender, transfeminine, transmasculine, genderqueer, non-binary), or any other number of identities that may or may not align with the gender assigned to one at birth. For some people, their gender identity corresponds with the gender assigned to them at birth (what we would call cisgender). For others, gender identity differs from the gender assigned to one at birth. It is important to distinguish gender identity (one’s sense of gender) from sexual orientation (the gender towards which one is attracted to).

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