Sexual orientation and gender identity: Glossary
The definitions are not considered exhaustive. While referring to the list, one should bear in mind that some of the terms may have slightly different meanings in various contexts and in different languages.
Discrimination is legally defined as unjustified, unequal treatment:
- Direct discrimination occurs when for a reason related to one or more prohibited grounds (for example, sexual orientation and gender identity) a person or group of persons is treated less favourably than another person or another group of persons is, has been, or would be treated in a comparable situation; or when, for a reason related to one or more prohibited grounds, a person or group of persons is subjected to a detriment.
- Indirect discrimination occurs when a provision, criterion or practice would put persons having a status or a characteristic associated with one or more prohibited grounds (including sexual orientation and gender identity) at a particular disadvantage compared with other persons, unless that provision, criterion or practice is objectively justified by a legitimate aim, and the means of achieving that aim are appropriate and necessary.
- Experienced discrimination, also called subjective discrimination, is the experience of being discriminated against. Experienced discrimination does not necessarily entail discrimination in the legal sense.
Gender identity refers to a person’s deeply felt individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth, and includes the personal sense of the body and other expressions of gender (that is, “gender expression”) such as dress, speech and mannerisms. The sex of a person is usually assigned at birth and becomes a social and legal fact from there on. However, some people experience problems identifying with the sex assigned at birth – these persons are referred to as “transgender” persons. Gender identity is not the same as sexual orientation, and transgender persons may identify as heterosexual, bisexual or homosexual.
Gender marker is a gendered designator on, for example, an identity document (passports). The most obvious gender markers are designations such as male/female or Mr/Mrs/Ms/Miss. They can also be professional titles or personal pronouns, or coded numbers, such as social security numbers and tax numbers which may use certain combinations for men and for women (for example, even/uneven numbers). Gender markers are often embedded in ID cards or personal certificates such as passports, birth certificates, school diplomas, and employers’ reference letters.