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2SLGBTQIA+ History and Identities in Canada

Identity and Belonging

Sex, sexuality and gender are important ways that people express their identities. Sex and gender are distinct but related concepts: sex refers to the reproductive organs and physical characteristics with which people are born, while gender encompasses someone’s personal and social identity as male, female, non-binary, gender diverse, two-spirit, and so on. A person’s sexuality, or sexual orientation, refers to their identity in relation to the gender or genders to which they are typically attracted. When it comes to gender, across history and around the world many cultures have recognized, celebrated and integrated more than two genders.

Although there is a history of gender diversity within Western cultures, more widespread recognition of gender diversity is fairly new. In fact, Statistics Canada only released new statistical standards for “sex at birth of person” and “gender of person” in April 2018. These new standards were incorporated into the 2021 Census.

2SLGBTQIA+ individuals are an important part of the Canadian fabric, and are represented in all aspects of Canadian life, from politics and sports, to education and the military. Many have fought for their right to belong and be included.

Learn more about the important role of sexuality and gender expression in the identities of some people in Canada by clicking on the objects below.