This chapter covers laws and services relevant to trans, intersex, takatāpui and queer people. This includes things like updating your legal documents, accessing healthcare, and protection from discrimination.
The language we use to describe sex and gender evolves over time. In New Zealand, different organisations and public services use words differently when talking about sex and gender, which can be confusing when navigating your rights. Because of this, we’ve created a definitions section to make it easier to navigate the chapter.
These are the words we use in this chapter, and what we mean when we use each word. These definitions are here to help navigate your legal rights. For general support and advice on understanding gender, sex and sexual orientation, see: “Where to go for more support” at the bottom of this page.
Gender: Gender is a person’s internal sense or feeling of being male, female, non-binary, or another gender identity. A person’s gender may vary or change over time. Gender is not tied to physical sex characteristics like genitalia or hormones, or the sex that a person was assigned at birth. Like ‘sex’, gender is socially constructed. Though the terms sex and gender are not the same, people often use them interchangeably.
Sex: Sex is a way of classifying people as male, female or intersex according to their physical characteristics. Like ‘gender’, this is socially constructed. It is the label assigned, usually at birth, and usually just according to a person’s genitals. A person might change their physical sex characteristics through taking hormones or having surgery.
Cis: A cis or cisgender person is someone who was assigned the right sex at birth.
Trans: A trans or transgender person is someone who was assigned a sex at birth, which turned out to be not right. This includes non-binary people.
Non-binary: A non-binary person is someone who is not male or female.
Takatāpui: Takatāpui is an inclusive te reo Māori term. The traditional translation of the word is “intimate friend of the same sex,” but it is now often used in a similar way to “rainbow person,” “rainbow community,” or LGBTQIA+ in te reo. If you’re otherwise communicating in English, the term should only be used for Māori individuals and communities.
Intersex: An intersex person has a variations of sex characteristics from birth, as opposed to through taking hormones or having surgery. Sex characteristics include things like hormones, chromosomes, genitals, and internal reproductive organs. These variations mean their sex characteristics don’t clearly fit into a ‘male’ or ‘female’ category.
Sex marker: A sex marker is the marker used to confirm your identity on legal documents and records. These are usually the letter M, F, X, or another marker for non-binary gender. There is no consistent approach to sex and gender for identity documents in New Zealand, so options available to you might be different on different forms.
Gender-inclusive: Gender-inclusive is a term used to refer to language, behaviour or services that are intentionally inclusive of all genders and sexes. We prefer this term over ‘gender-neutral’, which is a more passive phrase, rather than focusing on active inclusion.