Gender and Sexuality

There are many different genders and sexualities and different people express theirs in different ways. You can learn more about them on this page.

Watch the Expression Australia video (external website) 'LGBTIQA in Auslan':

Note: This video intentionally does not have any sound.
Click the subtitles button in the bottom right hand corner of the video to turn closed captions on and off.

Assigned sex

When someone is born they are usually labelled as ‘male’, ‘female’ or ‘intersex’ based on their genitals.

The word sex also refers to sexual intercourse. Learn more on the Sex and Consent page.


Female

People who have vaginas are usually assigned female at birth (AFAB).

Male

People who have a penis are usually assigned male or birth (AMAB).

Intersex

Intersex is a term used for people with reproductive organs or sex characteristics that don't appear typically female or male.

Hormones

Hormones are chemicals inside people’s bodies. People with higher levels of oestrogen and progesterone are usually considered female, and people with higher levels of testosterone are usually considered male. Intersex people can have hormone levels that are unusual for their assigned sex.

Need support?

QLife
provides anonymous and free support and referral for people wanting to talk about sexuality, identity, gender, bodies, feelings or relationships. Call 1800 184 527 or chat online (external link).

Gender

A person’s gender is not the same as their sex. Someone who is AMAB can be female, and vice-versa. A person’s gender depends on how much a person feels like a man, woman or something else.  

A photo of Kirra (non-binary person) and their partner smiling

What is gender?

A person’s gender is often judged on whether a person is AFAB or AMAB, as well as how masculine or feminine someone dresses, acts and talks. While a person’s gender is often thought of only as either male or female, there are many other genders identities. A person’s gender can also change.

Femininity refers to behaviours and roles that are traditionally considered female or expected of women. This could include caring for family or acting kindly. Things people wear, like dresses, high heels and make-up may also be considered feminine.

Masculinity refers to behaviours and roles that are traditionally considered manly, or expected of men. This could include being strong, doing physical work and wearing suits or heavy duty boots.

Note: A person's gender does not determine whether they are masculine or feminine. A male may do things or appear in ways that are thought of as feminine. A female may do things or appear in ways that are thought of as masculine.

Cis-gender

Cis-gender is a term for people whose gender matches their assigned sex. For example, a woman who was assigned female at birth is cis-gender.

Non-binary

Non-binary, gender queer, agender and bi-gender are terms for people who identify as neither a man nor a woman, or as both.

Gender fluid

A person who is gender fluid has a gender that changes over time and in different situations.
 

Transgender

A transgender person is someone that has a gender that is different to the sex that they were assigned at birth. For example, a transgender woman is a woman that was assigned male when they were born.

Tip: You can learn more about different genders and sexuality on the Rosie website (external link).

Sexuality

Someone’s sexuality is based on who they are sexually attracted to. There are many different types of sexuality. We have listed some common ones below.

Heterosexual

People who are heterosexual or ‘straight’ are attracted to a different gender than the one they identify with. For example, women who are attracted to men are heterosexual.

Homosexual, lesbian and gay

People, who are homosexual, lesbian or gay are attracted to the same gender that they identify with. For example, a man who is only attracted to other men is gay and a woman who is only attracted to other women is lesbian.

Bisexual

Bisexual people are attracted to different genders and the same gender that they identify with.

Asexual

People who are asexual are not sexually attracted to anyone of any gender. Asexual people can be romantically attracted to other people.

Pansexual

People who are pansexual can be attracted to people of any gender, male, female or other.

Queer

Some people find that a specific label does not properly represent their gender or sexuality and use the term queer to describe their gender and/or sexuality instead.

The term queer does not mean anything specific but implies that someone’s gender or sexuality is not heterosexual. It may also be used to refer to everyone who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer or questioning, asexual and more (LGBTIQA+).

What is LGBTIQA+?

LGBTIQA+ is an acronym often used to refer to diverse genders and sexualities, or people who are not heterosexual or cis-gender. The letters stand for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer or questioning, asexual and more.

People who are LGBTIQA+ often experience discrimination because some people consider them 'different'. There are laws in place to protect people from discrimination based on their gender and sexuality.

Learn more about your right to be free from discrimination in our section on Your rights.

Phto of a young woman at the Mardi Gras. She is using a wheelchair and wearing a white dress. There is a person with a rainbow sign that says 'Don't DIS my ability' behind her.


Mardi Gras

The Mardi Gras is a festival and parade held every year to celebrate LGBTIQA+ people and diverse sexualities and genders.

In Australia, the biggest and longest running Mardi Gras event is held in Sydney, New South Wales.

Each year, Women with Disabilities Australia (WWDA), People with Disabilities Australia (PWDA) and other Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) support their LGBTIQA+ members to participate in the Mardi Gras. In 2019, the group had a float at the parade.

Tip: You can learn more about the Mardi Gras on the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras website (external link).

Important Resources

Publications
WWDA Position Statement 4: Sexual and Reproductive Rights
Information from WWDA about the rights of women and girls with disability to make decisions about their bodies, sexual health and relationships.
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Guides
Our Site Fact Sheet: Types of Relationships
A fact sheet about different types of relationships.
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Guides
WWDA Easy English Book: What is LGBTIQA+?
Easy English book about what LGBTIQA+ means.
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External website
Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras
The official website for the Mardi Gras festival and parade.
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Sexuality and Disability
A website that answers questions a woman with a disability might have about her body, sex, relationships, children and more.
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Family Planning Alliance Australia: services
A website where you can find your local family planning service.
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Where to next:

External website
Amaze
A website with a series of fun, animated videos that give you all the answers you want to know about sex, your body and relationships.
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QLife
A website providing anonymous and free LGBTI peer support and referral for people in Australia wanting to talk about sexuality, identity, gender, bodies, feelings or relationships.
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External website
A Gender Agenda
A service that aims to support the goals and needs of the intersex, transgender and gender diverse communities.
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Videos
Family Planning NSW: Outing Disability
A video exploring the experiences of LGBTIQA+ people with disability.
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External website
Rosie: Gender and Sexuality
Information about gender and sexuality for young women.
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External website
Intersex Human Rights Australia
A national not-for-profit company that promotes human rights, health and the bodily autonomy of intersex people.
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Rainbow Rights Self-Advocacy Group
Rainbow Rights self-advocacy group is a group for people with an intellectual disability in the LGBTIQ community.
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Say it Out Loud
A website that encourages people from LGBTIQ communities to start talking about their relationships publicly.
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More Than Two
A website about polyamorous relationships: having simultaneous close romantic relationships with two or more other individuals.
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Sexuality After Spinal Cord Injury
A video project about exploring sex and sexuality after spinal cord injury.
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External website
TransHub
TransHub is a digital information and resource platform for trans and gender diverse (TGD) people, their loved ones, allies and health providers.
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