Internationally recognized sexual orientation or gender identity or expression (SOGIE) definitions 

(REV-OVS-13-3-1)

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

The following are definitions that are recognized in the international community:

Bisexual
An individual who is physically, romantically and/or emotionally attracted to more than one gender. Some bisexual individuals may also identify as pansexual.
Cisgender
An individual whose gender identity aligns with the sex they were assigned at birth.
Diverse sexual orientation and gender identity and expression (SOGIE)
Individuals who are perceived to have a sexual orientation or gender identity or expression that does not conform to socially accepted SOGIE norms. Such individuals include, but are not limited to, lesbians, gay men, and bisexual, trans, intersex and queer individuals.
Gay man
An individual who identifies as a man and whose physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction is primarily to other individuals who identify as men. Some women use gay to describe their same-sex attraction.
Gender
The characteristics, attitudes and behaviours that are socially or culturally associated with a person’s sex. The categories and specific characteristics associated with gender may vary culturally. An individual’s gender includes gender identity and expression, both of which can be fluid and flexible. An individual’s gender identity and expression may or may not conform to the socially accepted gender norms of their culture.
Gender expression
How a person expresses or presents themselves in ways that may be associated with gender, including how a person is perceived in relation to gender. This can include behaviour and outward appearance such as dress, hair, makeup, body language, mannerisms, gait and voice. A person’s chosen name and pronoun are also common ways of communicating gender. How a person expresses their gender may change.
Gender fluid
An individual who is flexible about their gender identity rather than committing to a single gender. They may fluctuate between genders or express multiple genders at the same time.
Gender identity
Each person’s internal and individual understanding of their gender. It is their sense of being a woman, a man, both, neither, or anywhere along the gender spectrum. A person’s gender identity may be the same as, or different from, their birth-assigned sex. A person’s understanding of their gender may change.
Intersex
Individuals whose physical sex characteristics, such as their reproductive or sexual anatomy or chromosome patterns, do not conform with typical notions of female or male sex. These patterns may become apparent at birth, may develop later (at puberty or in adulthood), or may remain unrecognized.
Lesbian
An individual who identifies as a woman and whose physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction is primarily to other individuals who identify as women.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI)
An acronym that combines concepts of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and intersex. Such individuals include, but are not limited to, lesbians, gay men, and bisexual, trans, intersex and queer individuals.
Non-binary
A spectrum of gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine—identities that are outside the gender binary.
Pangender
A gender identity not limited to one gender. A person with this identity may feel their identity encompasses all possible genders at once.
Pansexual
Individuals who may feel physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction to individuals regardless of their gender or sex.
Sex
A status assigned at birth based on biological markers of sex, including reproductive and sexual anatomy and chromosomes. Sex is typically designated as male or female. Sex can also refer to intersex.
Sexual orientation
A person’s physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction to, and/or intimate relations with, individuals of a different gender, the same gender, no gender, or more than one gender. A person’s understanding of their sexual orientation may change.
Trans
An umbrella concept that refers to any individual whose gender identity or gender expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. This concept includes, but is not limited to, individuals who have made bodily changes using surgical, medical or other means, or who plan to make bodily changes to align their sex characteristics with their gender identity; individuals whose gender identity does not align with their sex assigned at birth but who have no wish to change their physiology; people who identify as having multiple genders or as not having a gender; individuals whose gender identity changes from time to time; or people with any other gender identity that is not in line with socially accepted norms of expected behaviours based on gender. Gender identity is different from sexual orientation, and a trans individual may be heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual, or asexual.
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