Definition of Terms

To start, a short answer of the terms most commonly asked about: 

"Sex" is about your body; your anatomical form.
"Gender" is about who you feel yourself to be.
"Gender identity" is about how you self-identify in terms of being male or female.
"Gender roles" are about social roles that are assigned by a society according to gender.
"Sexual orientation" is about to whom you're sexually attracted.
"Transgender" is about feeling the gender assigned to you at birth was not the right one for you.

A uniquely Filipino term for (most often) a transgendered male, or bakla na kinikilalang ang sarili bilang isang babae.  Known as katheoy in Thailand, ktuey in Cambodia, and waria or banci in Indonesia.  In many parts of the Asia-Pacific they are occasionally referred to as "the third sex" though this is not medically correct, and in the West it is not politically correct. The words "bakla" and "homosexual/gay" are not interchangeable, though in the Philippines today the terms are unfortunately considered synonymous by most lay persons.  The bakla typically are not gay men; they are transgendered males who cross-dress to varying degrees (see definitions below), though many Filipinos claim that there are four distinct types of bakla:  transsexuals, cross-dressers, bisexuals, and masculine gay men.  All categories are widely considered by many Filipinos to be a "third sex."

This is why it can be challenging for a Westerner to discuss gender identity and sexual orientation issues in the Philippines.  The terms are often interchangeable, which leads to confusion.  It must be assured that you're on the same page with the words being used, because the term you're using might be interpreted as something quite different in the minds of others.  For example, when I'm talking about gay men I'm not referring to men who cross-dress and act womanly, but for many Filipinos (and other Southeast Asians/Pacific Islanders) that's exactly the image that comes to mind when they hear the words "gay" and "homosexual."  To many, "bakla," "gay," "transgender," and "homosexual" are all the same. 

A sexual orientation in which one is attracted to both the opposite and same biological sex to varying degrees.  Persons born with a bisexual orientation are known as bisexuals or bis.  Bisexuality is not a disorder or illness.  Very few bisexuals are so-called "perfect bisexuals," that is to say that very few have a perfect 50/50 split attraction to both males and females.  Most bisexuals are attracted to one sex more than the other, as displayed in the Kinsey Scale of Human Sexuality:

Civil Union
A state-sanctioned, legally recognized union similar to marriage, which provides to same-sex couples the rights, benefits, and responsibilities similar (or in many countries identical) to opposite-sex civil marriage.  It is non-religious in nature and performed by a judge, though a separate religious blessing ceremony may occur later if the couple so chooses.  Civil Unions go by different names in different countries, including Registered Partnerships, Life Partnerships, Civil Solidarity Pacts, and Domestic Partnerships.  Such relationship distinctions are often seen as creating a "separate but equal" status for same-sex couples.

Please see "Transvestism" below

Gay Marriage
The term "gay marriage," while commonly used today, is not used in this blog because it is, in fact, an incorrect term.  The proper term for a marriage between two persons of the same biological sex is same-sex marriage.  The reason why "gay marriage" is incorrect, is because a same-sex marriage does not always consist of two gay persons; one may be gay and one may be bi, or both may be bi.  Therefore, same-sex marriage is the proper blanket term, as well as the politically-correct term.  (See same-sex marriage below.)

GCS:  Gender Confirmation Surgery
Also known as SRS (sexual reassignment surgery) or sex change operation, it is classified as either male-to-female (M2F) or female-to-male (F2M).  The procedures involve chest reconstruction (breast augmentation for M2F or breast removal for F2M), and/or genital reconstruction (removing the testes and reshaping the scrotum and penis into a vagina and labia for M2F, or vice versa for F2M, though the latter is more surgically challenging).  Partial GCS or full GCS is possible.  

There are only two surgeons in the Philippines who have ever performed GCS, so most Filipinos wanting GCS travel to Thailand for the procedure.  There are hundreds of Thai surgeons experienced in GCS, and that experience and expertise is important because the procedure is incredibly intricate.  Singapore is another nearby option for the procedure, as is Japan.  It is, however, expensive, and the Philippine government discriminates by not granting transsexuals the right to legally change their sex on official documents, even if full GCS has been completed.

Gender Identity
A person's individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth.  Homosexual men, for example, identify their gender as being male.  Male-to-female transgenders, however, identify as being female.

A sexual orientation in which one is attracted exclusively to members of the opposite biological sex.  Heterosexuality is neither a behavior nor a preference, it is an orientation.  Persons born with a heterosexual orientation are known as heterosexuals or straight persons.  Heterosexuality is not a disorder or illness.

A sexual orientation in which one is attracted exclusively to members of the same biological sex.  Homosexuality is neither a behavior nor a preference, it is an orientation.  Persons born with a homosexual orientation are known as homosexuals, a term applied to both men and women.  More specifically, homosexual men are commonly referred to as gay men, and homosexual women as lesbians.  Homosexuality is not a disorder or illness.  Homosexuals typically do not practice transvestitism, and they are not transgendered nor transsexual.

The condition of being born with genitalia or reproductive anatomy that is difficult to label as either male or female, and/or secondary sexual characteristics of indeterminate sex or which combine features of both sexes.  Intersex persons have combinations of genitals and chromosomes that do not match the majority pattern.  In decades past, intersexed babies were "assigned" a sex and underwent surgery to shape them physically into either a male or a female.  Usually the latter was opted since it is easier to surgically sculpt female genitalia than male genitalia.  In the West such involuntary surgery has fallen out of practice because it violates the child's freedom of choice regarding their body, chromosomal orientation, and future.  Recently the term Disorders of Sex Development (DSD) has become preferred over the term intersexuality, because it covers the several dozen highly complex variations that exist in human sex development.

An acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender.  The term "transgender" encompasses transsexuals as well.  The acronym is often used in reference to, for example, LGBT rights, LGBT persons, the LGBT community, etc.

Same-sex Marriage
A legally recognized marriage between two persons of the same biological sex, wherein the exact same rights, benefits, and responsibilities granted to opposite-sex couples in marriage are granted equally to same-sex couples in marriage (i.e. marriage equality).  Just as with opposite-sex marriages, same-sex marriages can be either civil or religious, with the exchanging of vows taking place either before a judge or a member of the clergy.  The latter is dependent upon a denomination's stance on the issue; some churches allow same-sex marriages to be performed by their clergy, and some do not.  Where same-sex marriages are legal, however, no church is forced to marry any couples they do not wish to.  Churches have the right, but are not forced, to perform same-sex weddings.

Sexual Preference
A term no longer considered appropriate when referring to one's sexual orientation or identity.  Preference implies choice, and for persons born with a homosexual orientation there in no choice involved in the matter.  Sexual orientation is the correct term.  The only time the term sexual preference could be used is in relation to bisexual persons whom, being attracted to members of both the opposite and same sex, are able to decide if they will be in a relationship with either a man or a woman.  Even still it is arguable that this is mere "preference," because a person does not generally choose to fall in love with whom they fall in love.

A transgendered individual is one whose gender expression and/or gender identity differs from conventional expectations based on the physical sex they were born into (e.g. a boy who feels like he ought to be a girl, or a girl who feels like she ought to be a boy).  Transgenders often choose to live the role of the opposite gender, often by wearing clothing associated with the opposite gender (i.e. cross-dressing/practicing transvestitism).  Transgenders are not necessarily transsexual unless they take steps to begin a hormonal/physical sex change.   

Transgenders feel as though they are trapped in the wrong body, due to hormonal variances in the womb which caused the brain to either masculinize or feminize while the fetal anatomy formed in the opposite direction at an earlier developmental stage.  While not all transgenders are transsexuals, all transsexuals are transgenders.  Transgendered persons are not homosexuals.  Transgenderism has nothing to do with sexuality, only with gender identity.  A transgender identity is no longer considered a disorder or illness by modern scientific and medical associations.

It is important to note that, when referring to a transgender person, one should always be respectful and use the person's preferred name and pronoun regardless of their legal gender status.  Also, the word "transgender" should not be used as a noun but rather as an adjective, such as in, for example, "Sheila is transgender," not "Sheila is a transgender."  (Please see the Political Correctness post for more on this.)

A condition describing a male or female whose gender identity does not match the sex they were born with, and who seek hormonal and/or surgical treatment in order to bring their body into alignment with their gender identity.  A transsexual is always transgendered, and as such developed hormonally in the womb per the explanation given above for transgendered persons.  Transsexualism is no longer classified as a disorder or illness by modern scientific and medical associations.  Transsexual persons are not homosexual.
The practice of adopting the clothes of the opposite sex.  Transvestitism is not a sexual orientation, but a behavior most commonly associated with transgenderism and transsexualism.  Transvestites may or may not be gay or lesbian, however, gay men and lesbians do not identify as the opposite sex and therefore do not practice transvestitism on a regular, daily basis.  As "transvestite" has a very clinical sound, the preferred term today is "cross-dresser."  Dressing in drag (i.e. being a drag queen) is an aspect of transvestitism, and may be done by trans, bi, gay, and straight people alike, typically for entertainment purposes.

West / Western nations
Meant in regards to this blog as being socially Western.  Western nations per this definition include all of Western Europe (Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Germany, Andorra, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Belgium, Ireland, U.K., France, Austria, Switzerland, Malta, Monaco, Spain, Portugal, Italy, San Marino, Greece) as well as European-heritage nations, namely Canada, the United States, Australia, and New ZealandSome now also include the nations of the Czech Republic and Slovenia as they have become more socially Western.