five people smiling and laughing with one another
Getty Images

Cisgender” is a word used to describe gender identity. “Straight,” on the other hand, is used to describe sexual orientation.

Being cisgender isn’t the same thing as being straight, but they can overlap. In fact, people can be both cisgender and straight.

Here is what you need to know about the different terms used.

When you were born, people looked at your genitals and decided you were either a girl or a boy.

As you grow up and learn about the concept of gender, you might identify as the gender you were assigned at birth or you might not.

If you do identify with that gender, you’re cisgender, or “cis.”

If you were born with a penis, you are a cis gender man.

If you were born with a vagina and identify as a female, you are a cis gender woman.

If you don’t identify with the gender you were assigned at birth, you may find that you’re transgender, nonbinary, or gender nonconforming.

It is not that simple.

Cisgender is considered the opposite of transgender, but some people feel that they identify as neither cisgender nor transgender.

Some people identify as nonbinary, which means they don’t identify strictly as a man or a woman.

Some nonbinary people consider themselves to be transgender, but some consider themselves to be neither entirely transgender nor cisgender.

For example, let’s consider a nonbinary person who was assigned male at birth. This person might describe themselves as genderfluid. They might feel that their gender identity shifts over time and they could identify as a man some days and a woman on other days.

The person is changing between the definitions of cisgender and trans. They could be either cisgender or trans.

cis gender and trans gender are not part of a strict binary. It is possible to be neither cisgender nor trans, or to identify as a bit of both.

The word “straight” is often used to mean “heterosexual.” It can also mean “heteroromantic.”

Heterosexual means you’re sexually attracted to the opposite sex only.

Heteroromantic means you are attracted to the opposite sex only.

Generally, “straight” means you’re attracted to the opposite sex, whether it’s in a sexual or romantic way.

This is not easy.

Some people are straight and some people are gay, but there are many other possibilities.

For example, you can be:

“People may describe their sexual or romantic orientation in a number of ways. Some people don’t label their orientation.”

You can be attracted to one group of people and another group of people.

It is possible to be pansexual and Homoromantic. You are attracted to people of the same gender but also to people of all genders.

“Being gay or straight isn’t the only way to be Orientation and attraction can be complicated.”

Someone is both cis gender and heterosexual. It could also mean cis gender and Heteroromantic.

A cishet person identifies as the gender they were assigned at birth, and they are attracted to people of the opposite gender.


cis gender people are not straight. You can be asexual, cisgender, gay, bisexual, or cisgender and asexual.

You can be straight or trans. Some trans people find themselves attracted to people of the opposite gender.

Every human is unique.

There are many ways to experience attraction and gender, so there are different terms to describe it.

The diversity of terms is indicative of the diversity of humans.

It is possible to be validation for many people with a term. People find community when they use these terms.

Some people tell you what they mean. You might have to ask for others.

“Don’t assume someone doesn’t use the labels you’re not sure about.”

Remember that some people might feel uncomfortable talking about their gender or orientation, especially if they’ve experienced discrimination in the past.

Take time to think about what words to use to describe yourself. You should read about terms that describe you. You can check out forums on the internet.

You can’t always tell what pronouns someone uses by looking at them. They might state their pronouns up front, or you have to ask. Remember, it’s better to ask than to assume.

You can share your pronouns when you meet new people.

You could say hello. My name is so-and-so and my pronouns are they. Adding your pronouns to your social media bios and email signature is possible.

There are many places where you can learn about various aspects of being. For example:

Healthline also has a transgender resources guide.

If you are looking for support or a community, it is helpful to reach out to any of the groups in your area.

Sian Ferguson is a freelance writer and editor based in Cape Town, South Africa. Her writing covers issues relating to social justice, cannabis, and health. You can reach out to her on Twitter.