Gender Diverse Students

Students who do not conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity are protected from discrimination, harassment, and violence.

  • You have the right to be protected from being bullied or harassed because you are transgender or gender nonconforming.
  • You have the right to equal educational opportunities regardless of your gender identity or gender expression.
  • You have the right to present yourself in a way that is consistent with your gender identity.
  • You have the right to privacy concerning your transgender status.
  • You have the right to expect that your preferred pronoun is honored.
  • You can change your preferred name for your email, One Card and in Banner for your class rosters.
  • In support of all of our students, UNC Asheville has All Gender bathrooms across campus.

To change your name:


  1. Here is the information for how students can submit a legal name change.
  2. Here is the information for how students can update their preferred first name through OnePort.

Visit the Office of the Registrar for additional information for updating personal information.

Faculty will need to speak to Human Resources regarding name changes.

To change your personal pronoun:

  • Click on the Update Personal Information link inside OnePort
  • Click on the Edit button in the upper right-hand corner of the Personal Details section of the page
  • Enter your Gender Identification in the box provided
  • Click on the Update button

Terms, Definitions, & Labels

What does LGBTQIAP stand for?

  • Lesbian
  • Gay
  • Bisexual
  • Transgender
  • Queer
  • Questioning
  • Intersex
  • Asexual
  • Pansexual

What do the colors of the Rainbow Flag mean?

Gilbert Baker designed the first Rainbow Flag in 1978 based on the five-striped “Flag of the Race” and was originally designed with eight stripes: pink, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Those colors represented: sexuality, life, healing, sun, nature, art, harmony, and spirit. However, the colors pink and indigo were eventually taken out, and today we use the rainbow flag with six stripes.

Terms, Definitions & Labels

Terminology is important. The words we use, and how we use them, can be very powerful. Knowing and understanding the meaning of the words we use improves communication and helps prevent misunderstandings. The following terms are not absolutely-defined. As always, listening is the key to understanding.

AFAB: An abbreviation for “assigned-female-at-birth,” a term frequently used, often by the transmasculine community, as a self-descriptor. “Assigned-at-birth” serves to imply that sex is  without the agency of the individual.

AMAB: An abbreviation for “assigned-male-at-birth,” a term frequently used, often by the transfeminine community, as a self-descriptor. “Assigned-at-birth” serves to imply that sex is  without the agency of the individual.

Androgyny: Displaying physical and social characteristics identified in this culture as both feminine and masculine.

Aromantic: A person who experiences little or no romantic attraction. Aromantic people may or may not experience sexual attraction, which is unrelated to their aromantic identity. There is considerable diversity among the aromantic community; each aromantic person experiences things like relationships, attraction, and arousal somewhat differently. Some identities that fall under the “aro” umbrella do experience varying amounts of romantic attraction, such as demi-romantics and grey-romantics.

Asexual: A person who doesn’t experience sexual attraction or who has low or no interest in sexual activity. Unlike celibacy, an action that people choose, asexuality is a sexual identity. There is considerable diversity among the asexual community; each asexual person experiences things like relationships, attraction, and arousal somewhat differently. Some identities that fall under the “ace” umbrella do experience varying amounts of sexual attraction, such as demisexuals and grey-asexuals.

Assigned Sex: The sex recorded on a person’s birth certificate. A person’s assigned sex is generally determined by a cursory visual inspection of an infant’s external genitalia and may or may not be congruent with the person’s gender identity or with other biological markers of sex such as chromosomes and internal reproductive structures.

Biphobia/Binegativity: a myriad of behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes ranging from hatred, discomfort, fear, erasure, violence against/towards people who identify or are perceived as bisexual, non-monosexual, etc., that manifest interpersonally, institutionally, and systemically. The spectra of this particular form of violence impact folks across various identities within the  LGBTQ+ community due to perceive proximity by outside aggressor, and by those within the community. E.g. assuming someone who identifies as bisexual is just in a phase and will eventually choose the kind of gender they’re attracted to.

Bisexual/Bi: a identity term that most often refers to a person who is attracted to people of multiple  genders. Many folk often denote men and women, but not always. Some folks may define Bisexulity as being sexually attracted to those of similar or different gender. Some may also understand Bisexuality as an umbrella term representing a number of sexual identity that represent experiences of being sexually attracted to more than one gender. Also commonly shortened to Bi. Those who use this term to describe their experience may or may not also use it to denote their romantic attraction.

Camp: In queer and trans circles, people (especially gay men) may be described as “camp” or “campy” if they behave in a manner that exaggerates gay mannerisms or stereotypes. Such exaggeration is often powerful in its ability to reveal the absurdity of gender expectations.

Cisgender: Having a gender identity that aligns with the sex one was assigned at birth. Often shortened to “cis,” which is pronounced “sis.” The use of “cisgender” rather than “normal,” or even “not transgender” draws attention to the system that marks transgender people as “other.”

Cis-heteronormativity: a pervasive system of  belief (on an individual, systemic, and ideological level) that being cisgender and hetersexual (straight), and associated ways of being in the world (life-path, material desires, family/kinship structures, political/social goals, etc.) are the default, and “normal.”

Cissexism/Cisnormativity: The system of oppression that values and privileges cisgender people, upholds the gender binary, and marginalizes, oppresses, and makes invisible the lives and experiences of transgender and nonbinary people.

Closeted/In the Closet: The confining state of being secretive about one’s true gender identity and/or sexual identity. A person may feel compelled to be closeted in order to keep a job, housing situation, family/friends, or to stay safe. Many queer and trans individuals are “out” in some situations and “closeted” in others.

Coming Out (Of the Closet)/Being Out: The process by which queer and trans folks recognize, accept, typically appreciate, and often celebrate their sexual orientation, sexuality, or gender identity/expression. Coming out is different across communities and cultures. There is no right or wrong way to be a queer or trans person and coming out is not a possibility for everyone.

Cross-dressing: Wearing clothing not usually associated with the gender one identifies as.

Down Low (“DL”): A term used to refer to men who may or may not explicitly identify as heterosexul, who engage in relationships with women, but who engage in sex with men. Typically, these men do not identify themselves as gay or bisexual. The term originated in the Black community but the behavior is not unique to any race, ethnicity, or culture.

Drag: Wearing the clothing of another gender, often with exaggerated cultural/stereotypical gender characteristics. Individuals may identify as drag kings, queens, or performers. Drag often refers to cross-dressing for purposes such as entertainment, performance, or self-expression.

Dyke: Originally a derogatory term for a lesbian, with lesbians beginning to reclaim the word in the 1970s. Today, many lesbians affirmatively refer to themselves as dykes, but it is still commonly used as an insult and should be avoided by those outside of the lesbian community.

Femme: An identity term often used to by queer women, who express themselves in feminine ways. Some consider “femme” to be its own gender identity. While an identity term to some, it can be used as a pejorative, specifically in gay/queer men’s community.

FTM/F2M: Abbreviation for Female-to-Male. A term referring to people who identify as men who were assigned female-at-birth. Some trans men reject this term because they have always been male, regardless of sex assignment. (See transmasculine and transgender).

Gender: A socially constructed concept that designates people (based on their appearance, perceived sex, learned behaviors, traits, and actions) as masculine or feminine. A person’s assigned sex does not always align with their gender (see transgender), and many people display traits associated with more than one gender. Gender is different from sexuality.

Gender Affirmation Surgery: Surgical procedures that some trans folks pursue that create congruence between one’s body and one’s gender identity. These procedures may include “top surgery” (breast augmentation or removal) and “bottom surgery” (altering genitals). For female-to-male transsexuals, GAS involves a bilateral mastectomy (chest reconstruction), panhysterectomy (removal of the ovaries and uterus), and sometimes a phalloplasty (construction of a penis) and scrotoplasty (formation of a scrotum) or a metoidioplasty (restructuring the clitoris). For male-to-female transsexuals, GAS consists of optional surgical breast implants and vaginoplasty (construction of a vagina). Additional surgeries might include a trachea shave (reducing the size of the Adam’s apple), bone restructuring to feminize facial features, and hair transplants. Sometimes GAS is referred to as “gender confirming surgery” to recognize that one’s gender does not change—it is only being made visible to others. Historically, gender affirmation surgery has been referred to as sex reassignment surgery. Please do not use the term “sex change.” It is important to note that not all transgender people pursue gender affirmation surgeries, this can be due to cost, safety, or the fact that surgery is not a part of their gender journey.

Gender Bending: Blurring the binary gender roles.

Gender Dysphoria: Discomfort and/or distress that varies in intensity, duration, and interval for an individual extending from the disjuncture between one’s conceptualization of their gender and the way their body is. Serves as a medical term and diagnosis in the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Diagnostics and Statistical Manual (DSM-5), which contributes to the stigmatization of transgender identities as a mental disorder. Clinically speaking, gender dysphoria is present when a person experiences significant distress related to their gender. The concept of dysphoria, rather than the diagnosis, is employed frequently by the trans/non-binary community to name their experience. No everyone views gender dysphoria as a mental health diagnosis.

Gender Expression: The way that someone expresses their gender, either consciously or unconsciously. This encompasses everything that communicates our gender to others: clothing, hairstyles, body language, mannerisms, how we speak, how we play, and our social interactions and roles. Most people have some blend of masculine and feminine qualities that comprise their gender expression, and this expression can also vary depending on the social context. There is not always a direct translation between gender identity and gender expression.

Gender Fluid: An identity or umbrella term for people whose gender expression is variable across time and space.

Gender Identity: Language a person claims based on their internal understanding of their gender. Also, one’s innate and personal experience of gender. This may or may not align with one’s gender expression or gender attribution. gender.

Gender-neutral/Gender-free Pronouns: Pronouns which do not associate a gender with the person being discussed. The dichotomy of “he and she” in English does not leave room for other gender identities, a source of frustration for the transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming community. People who are limited by languages which do not include gender-neutral pronouns have worked to create them. Some English examples are “they” or “hir” for “him/her” and “they” or “ze” for “he/she.” The use of “they/them” pronouns as singular pronouns is accepted by experts as grammatically correct.

Hegemonic Masculinity: describes the ways in which masculinity is pervasive, ever-present, systematic, and inextricably tied to power and control. Proposes how and why men maintain social dominance over women, girls, femmes, and any folks whose gender identities are deemed to be outside of the enterprise of masculinity.

Heteronormativity: The belief (on an individual, systemic, and ideological level) that straightness and straight relationships are the default, and are more “normal” than queerness.

Internalized Queer and Trans Oppression: The fear and self-hate of one’s own queer or transgender identity in individuals who have learned negative ideas about these groups through childhood/adulthood socialization. One form of internalized oppression is the acceptance of the myths and stereotypes applied to the oppressed group. This can result in depression, alienation, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.

Intersex: A general term used for a variety of conditions in which a individual’s reproductive or sexual anatomy (re: genitals, secondary sex characteristics, chromosomes, and/or hormone levels) do not fit into the medical/societal definition of male or female. Some members of the intersex community prefer to use person first language to describe themselves (e.g. a person with intersex condition) and conceptualize their condition as one of medical diagnosis. Others (re)claim intersex as identity.

Legal Transition: the process of changing how one’s gender is represented on legal documents, inclusive of one’s birth certificate, driver’s license, social security, insurance, and/or passport. Many countries and US states have legal barriers that make it expensive and difficult for trans people to legally transition.

Lesbian: An identity term that most often refers to a person who identifies as a woman who is sexually attracted to other women. Those who use this term to describe their experience may or may not also use it to denote their romantic attraction.

MTF/M2F: Abbreviation for Male-to-Female. A term referring to people who identify as women who were assigned-male-at-birth. Some trans women reject this term because they have always been female, regardless of sex assignment. (See transfeminine and transgender).

Misogyny: A type of gender-based oppression founded in the belief that women are inferior to and must remain subordinate to men. “Misogyny” literally means “hatred of women.” It is predicated upon the binary gender system (see gender binary). Misogyny, and societal acceptance of it, can be blamed for men’s violence against women and girls (including trans women); discrimination against women in employment, education, and politics; lack of appropriate health care for women ; and continuing unequal divisions of labor in the home, among many other social inequities.

Outing: The act of disclosing, intentionally or unintentionally, one’s identity to others without their permission. Outing someone can have serious consequences on their safety, employment, family situation, etc.

Pangender: A person whose gender identity is comprised of all or many genders.

Pansexual: An identity term that most often refers to a person who experiences sexual attraction to people of all and/or many gender identities/expressions. Also commonly shortened to “Pan.”

Passing: Being taken for a member of the dominant group – white, straight, cisgender, for example. Queer and trans people who have the ability to pass can choose to conceal the stigma associated with being a member of a sexual minority, and often must do so to avoid discriminatory behaviors.

Polyamory: relationship structure that centers on the practice of having or being open to consensually having more than one or many partners/significant others. Sometimes used as an umbrella term for all forms of ethical, consensual, and loving non-monogamy.

Post-Op (Post-Operative): Individuals who have undergone gender affirmation surgery, and/or other surgeries to alter their expression of secondary-sex characteristics (such as breasts, chest, and facial contours).

Pre-Op (Pre-Operative): Individuals who have not undergone gender affirmation surgery, but who desire to and are seeking that as an option. They may or may not be on hormone therapy, and they may or may not also seek surgeries meant to alter secondary sex characteristics.

Pronouns: Linguistic tools we use to refer to proper nouns. In the context of gender, pronouns are used to refer people, and are often gendered. Some examples of pronouns include: they/them/theirs, she/her/hers, he/him/his, and ze/hir/hirs. Most pronouns are gendered and binary, although there are personal pronouns in many languages that are not gender specific. We use pronouns to attribute gender (see gender attribution). Using incorrect pronouns or assuming them based on appearance, is a way to misgender someone (see misgender).

Queer: Reclaimed* derogatory term that is used in a few different ways: a catchall term for the LGBTQ community; an sexual identity term that is often characterized by the incorporation of fluidity and anti-normativity; academic nomenclature to represent prolific postmodern feminist theoretical project centered on sexuality and gender. Simultaneously appears in the academic and organizing circles, in the late 1980s, early 1990s. *Not reclaimed by everyone.

Sexism: The individual, institutional, and societal/cultural beliefs and practices that privilege men, subordinate women, and denigrate values categorized as feminine.

Sexuality: socially constructed concept that captures the relationships between a person’s experience, practice, and conceptualizations of their physical, emotional, and psychic attraction (or absence thereof) to other people and/or self.

Sexual identity: The language someone uses to name their own concept of their sexual being that can be, but is not universally, defined in terms of the gender that someone is physically attracted to. Examples: asexual, graysexual, demisexual, non-monosexual, bisexual, omnisexual, pansexual, straight, lesbian, and gay. Also, known as sexual orientation*.

Social Transition: a social transition includes transition from one gender to another by changing mannerisms, dress, hair, pronouns, name, and a variety of other means. A social transition involves elements of a transition that are not necessarily medical or legal.

Transitioning: the process in which a trans or nonbinary person begins to live as their gender identity. It may include changing one’s name, taking hormones, having surgery, and/or altering legal documents. Transitioning means very different things to different people. There are different types of transition: Legal Transition, Medical Transition, and Social Transition.

Transgender/Trans: A term describing when one’s gender identity does not align with their assigned sex. Trans people challenge society’s view of gender as fixed, unmoving, dichotomous, and inextricably linked to one’s biological sex. The sexual orientation of transgender people varies just as it does among cisgender people.

Transmisogyny: The marginalization of trans women and trans feminine people that falls at the intersection of transphobia and misogyny. Transmisogyny exists within the assumption that womanhood and femininity are inferior to manhood and masculinity.

Transmisogynoir: The marginalization of black trans women and trans feminine people that is inclusive of transphobia, racism, and misogyny, and how all of these intersect. Takes into account that black women face a different, racialized form of misogyny that is compounded with transphobia.

Transphobia: Fear, hatred, and intolerance of people who identify as transgender, nonbinary, genderqueer, and gender nonconforming, or those who break, blur of transgress assigned gender roles and the gender binary.

Trans Woman/Transfeminine: Identity label preferred by some transgender people assigned male at birth (AMAB). Genderqueer and gender non-conforming people who were assigned male at birth and now adopt a more feminine gender expression may also identify as transfeminine.

Again, this is not an exhaustive list of terms and definitions! New language emerges as our understandings of these topics change and evolve.

Additional Resources