Fact sheets

Useful definitions


The state of being either female or male in terms of  bological reproduction capacity. In female humans, reproductive eggs, or ova, are the biggest cell in a womans body (about as wide as a strand of hair), whereas male human sperm cells, or spermatozoa, are tiny–about 10 milion of them are equivalent to the volume of one egg cell. Other sex characteristics include: for women,  ovaries that produce the eggs, uterus, Fallopian tubes, cervix, and genitalia (eg the vulva–clitoris, vagina, labia); and in men the penis and scrotum (containing the testicles, or ‘balls’, that produce sperm, and the epidymides where the sperm is stored). Other contributing biological factors are chromosomes, genes, and hormones.


Adult human of the female sex. Other species have their own term for the female kind (eg, a doe is a female deer). A man is the opposite sex to a woman


A range of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that does not conform to standard definitions of male and female. For example, a female human may have only one X chromosome (Turners Syndrome), or mosaic genetics (some cells are XY), or a baby girl may be born with an unusually large clitoris or no vagina. Intersex individuals are extremely rare (‘up to about 1.7 % of a population‘).

Standard practice has been, and continues to be, in many parts of the world (if not to kill the intersex child) to use medicine to  ‘normalise’ their physical appearance . This latter practice took off in the mid-1950s due to the efforts of the controversial New Zealand sexologist, John Money who practised in the US (see Gender below).

It should be noted that intersex should not be considered a sexuality or a form of gender diversity or a part of the ever-increasing alphabet soup of LGBTQQIP2SA (or LGBTQ+) umbrella that increasingly requires the provision of a definitional glossary to educate/indoctrinate into gender ideology.

Sexual orientation

A description of how a person experiences sexual attraction to other humans; ie, their sexuality). For example, a homosexual is attracted to people of the same sex; a lesbian is attracted to other women; a gay man is attracted to other men; a bisexual is attracted to people who are either of the same or opposite sex; and a heterosexual, or straight person, is attracted to someone of the opposite sex. ‘Gay’ is sometimes used for a lesbian but is mainly used for male homosexuals.


The sexuality, or sexual orientation, of a woman born female sex, who is sexually attracted to other natal women. Other terms include homosexual, dyke, Sapphic.


A social, cultural and historical system of expectations and norms based on a person’s sex. For example, women are expected to conform to stereotypical norms of femininity expressed in physical or other attributes such as weak muscular development), gender conforming clothing (eg, skirts, veils, clothing that reveals or conceals the body, high heels) or demeanour (eg, passive, quiet, ‘invisible’). Whilst these vary across cultures, gender is commonly expressed as a hierarchical system that upholds male dominance over women as a class.

Anne Oakley, a British sociologist, wrote about gender roles (not gender or gender identity) in 1972 in her poneering text Sex, Gender and Society. That book opens with the following sentence:

Everybody knows that men and women are different. But behind this knowledge lies a certain uneasiness: how different are they? What is the extent of the difference? What significance does it have for the way male and female behave and are treated in society? (p.17)

Oakley’s was a feminist understanding of gender as a social phenomenon. Gender to describe an individual characteristic was first used in 1955 by the US sexologist John Money, who had trained in psychology. A controversial and highly public figure, he laid the foundations for the new field of research in, and practice of, so-called gender medicine. He advocated the use of surgery and hormones in infants and adults (such as intersex and transexual people) to mke them conform to gendered ideals of female and male, all now widely supported by transgenderism that CoAL does not support.

Money’s most famous patient (known as the John/Joan case) was the unfortunate David Reimer, damaged in a failed circumcision. Believing that gender was socially constructed, Money supported the child having surgery and hormone feminisation treatment. However, this commenced after Reimer was at least 2 years of age, more than old enough for him to have already gained a sense of a male identity. When he finally learned he was male in his mid-teens, he eagerly reverted to a male identity, later having reconstruction surgery and testosterone treatment. He married but continued to be emotionally troubled, attempting suicide twice and finally succeeding at the age of 38, soon after his wife said she was leaving him.

The case of David Reimer needs to be understood as an example of the importance of biological sex in the complexity of identity formation, and the psychological damage caused by parental and professional abuse of a young person’s trust and emotional manipulation in their efforts to maintain a fantasy that sex can be changed through a ‘gender identity.’

This typical history of ‘gender medicine’ and its perverse role in the lives of intersex and other gender nonconforming people give us some answers to Oakley’s problem of society’s ‘uneasiness’ with gender roles. CoAL is especially concerned about the harmful effects of ‘gender medicine’ on girls and women, many of whom are lesbians and/or gender nonconforming. Fuelled by activists, ‘gender medicine’ becomes a tool for a ‘quick fix’, to ‘trans the gay away’ in response to homophobic social pressures that are often deep-seated and invisible. The transgender industry that has sprung up has been widely criticised, eg  for it paucity of research in the face of an inadequate database worldwide, one that focuses on males despite the influx of females, and that is interpreted in highly biased ways (UK Cass Review).

Gender nonconformity

When a person’s appearance or behaviour varies from stereotyped norms for their sex. For example, for a lesbian that could mean being ‘butch,’ or working in a male-dominated profession such as construction, or refusing to shave your body hair.

Gender identity

A term produced by gender identity theory, which claims that sex is a limited and irrelevant concept and must be replaced with gender, where gender is fluid and  determined at will and yet is a person’s innate personality trait (an inner feeling) that can be performed across a spectrum of identities independent of a person’s biology.

Thus, sexed biology becomes subservient to gender identity, which can be affirmed by dressing and acting according to sex sterotypes and cultural or socio-economic norms, and with help from medical interventions (hormones, surgery). However, gender identity still relies on sex categories of  ‘man’ and ‘woman’ to mark out an imagined difference from a biological state (‘transwoman,’ ‘transman’) that is more powerful and true, or ‘real,’ than (so-called ‘cis’) biology.

The consequence of this is that it is very difficult to formulate a material and stable definition of gender identity. And young lesbians can become confused when they are pressured for sex by (mainly heterosexual) men who identify as transwomen and claim that a woman can have a penis and be a lesbian.r

Gender ideology

The term is used by radical feminists who have a gender critical understanding of the illogical system of ideas and ideals that support the concept of gender identity (see above).  The term should not be confused with that used by anti-feminist religious movements and anti-colonialist movements that resist women’s liberation from traditional roles.


Transgender is a relatively new term, often attributed to Virginia Prince, a transgender activist who coined it to differentiate their identity from transsexuals who had surgery

Transgenderism is a sociopolitical constuction of the mid to late twentieth cenury (Jeffreys Gender Hurts 2014); a term that morphed from ‘transsexual,’ with claims that trans-identified people were radically challenging gender and binary sex roles by modifying their bodies to resemble the opposite sex. (On the contrary, it is obvious to CoAL that transgender role play generally follows and reinforces a sexist gender binary.) This led to later claims that body modification was even unnecessary; gender had become a biological fact, for which a simple self-declaration was sufficient (Raymond Doublethink (2021)). 

The medicalisation of transsexualism depoliticised it, changed the way people understood it and removed it from public debate As a medical speciality, ‘it created the disease of gender dysphoria’ transforming sociopolitical and ethical issues into technical ones (Raymond 2021, p.92)

A transgender industry, established in the mid-20th century, has morphed and expanded with a changing clientele now largely of young people. Paradoxically, increased acceptance of ‘self-identification’ has tightened medicine’s grip through the application of a therapeutic regime (Raymond 2021, p.30).

Transgender activists have been able to insinuate themselves into the LGB community to be identified as a social justice movement, and thereafter broadened the ‘alphabetical soup’ by importing ever more letters of the alphabet for ever more socially constructed gender categories (eg, LGBTQQIP2SA, sometimes shortened to LGBTQ+, and often requiring provision of a glossary of definitions to the confused and/or uninitiated).

It must be pointed out that L, G, and B are the only representions of sex-based sexuality; the remainder are all amorphous gender categories, which have different rights that often conflict with those of the L, G and B categories. TQ+: a lobby group set up to counter the ideas and philosophies of lesbian, gay and bisexual people (LGB), that is sexual orientations. TQ+ sets itself against sexual orientation and in the process encourages conversion therapy of lesbians and gay men via irreversible hormone and surgical treatments. TQ+ is an antifeminist, homophobic and reactionary force funded by billionaires who profit through investments in Big Pharma, medical equipment suppliers and transhumanist technologies.

Interestigly, the political hegemony of gender ideology in the digital world is illustrated by the attempt to search for the term transsexual in popular search engines, which automatically substitute the term transgender.


Gender ideology claims, without evidence, that a trans-identified person is non-binary (ie, neither female or male) and thus overcomes the biological force in nature of the female-male sex binary.


Queer theory came out of postmodern theory that claimed that sexed identity is merely performative and therefore fluid, not biologically fixed. Queer became an umbrella terms for sexual orientation or gender identity that is not heterosexual.


Transexualism is the persistent desire for cross-dressing together with feelings of dissatisfaction with one’s own sexed body.

Gender/sex dysphoria

Sex dysphoria was medicalised and its treatment legitimised as a ‘gender disorder’ when it was first listed in the 1980 edition of the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual DSM III in response to ideas promoted by medicoscientists such as John Money, Harry Benjamin and Robert Stoller who had established gender clinics and research projects in the US . In 1994, the listing changed with the publication of DSM IV, when it was replaced with ‘gender identity disorder’ (GID). The political nature of this condition was further demonstrated in 2013, when pressure by transgender activists, anxious to avoid stigmatisation, saw GID replaced by’ ‘gender dysphoria’ in DSM V, which focuses on the mental and emotional effects of a misalignment of self image and biological sex (eg, ‘I feel like a woman trapped in a man’s body”).

At least 3 types of gender dysphoria have been identified: (1) childhood-onset gender dysphoria occurs in both females and males and is associated with extreme gender nonconformity and adult homosexuality;  (2) autogynephilia, a natal male’s sexual arousal by imitating females (especially by cross-dressing) or imagining himself as a female; and (3) ROGD, found later in adolescents and young adults without a childhood history of gender dysphoria and often with preexisting emotional problems (Littman et al (2023).

ROGD (Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria)

ROGD was a term devised by Lisa Littman (2018) to describe an apparently new type of gender dysphoria caused by social contagion among adolescents and young adults influenced by their peers and communications via social media. This was largely found to happen in females, correcting for the mainly older male occurrence of gender dysphoria previously.

Detransition and Desistance

A detransitioner seeks to, and often does, go back to their birth sex. They are survivors of transgenderism, and most are female (Raymond 2021). Survivors like Max Robinson (2021) credit new feminist understandings of the effects of misogyny and patriarchy on their past thinkng.

Desistance has a general meaning of ceasing an action or behaviour. When applied to transgenderism, it is poorly defined. One recent research paper found 30 definitions that could be classed in four main groups: ‘disappearance of gender dysphoria (GD) after puberty, a change in gender identity from TGE (transgender) to cisgender, the disappearance of distress, and the disappearance of the desire for medical intervention.’ Note: CoAL does not agree with the use of the term ‘cisgender’, in this case preferring the term ‘birth sex.’

Conversion therapy

A method (psychoanalytical, psychological, behavioural, or spiritual) that aims to change a person’s sexual orientation to conform to a heterosexual norm. Historically, it was used to ‘cure’ homosexuals (eg, ECT, or electroconvulsive therapy). Gay and women’s liberation activists in the 1970s challenged the medicalisation of homosexuality and the necessity for such ‘cures.’

Gender activism has tried to replicate this strategy, adding the notion of gender conversion therapy, thereby  stigmatising psychological therapy traditionally used to explore underlying reasons for a person adopting a transgender identity (‘watchful waiting) and promoting an affirmative model led by the trans-identified person. Politically, this is a strategy to remove professional control over the individual’s ability to self declare their gender identity. The quandary for transgenderists is that they still want medical and psychological support. 

Under new and current legislation, parents and others might be accused of conversion therapy if they oppose their child’s belief  they are transgender and their desire for irreversible medical intervention. Parental authority was successfully challenged by the court in Qeensland (and celebrated in TQ+ media), where a dissenting father was over-ruled in favour of the mother who wanted to support her autistic 13-year-old son’s pursuit of a female identity. The father’s case was weakened by his history of drug crime, violence and alcoholism, possible contributory factors, along with autism, in his son’s discomfort with his male sexed body, factors that could not be explored under the affirmation model approved by the court. Following the Victorian Change or Suppression (Conversion Practice) Prohibition Act 2021 (Conversion Act), the government produced a ‘fact sheet’ to reassure Victorians the legislation ‘does not ban’ a range of activities, including ‘expressing views or opinions for or against particular sexual orientations and gender identities’ and ‘psychological counselling for children with gender dysphoria.’ However,  a legal firm with Christian connections has warned that under the Act a parent can be  ‘convicted of emotional and psychological abuse that is considered family violence if they do not affirm a child who wants to transition to the opposite sex.’

In the US, Brian Tingley, a marriage and family therapist, is petitioning the Supreme Court to reverse a ruling based on a new Washington State law that prevents him from providing counseling that does not “affirm” a minor’s gender identity, calling it conversion therapy and labeling it “unprofessional conduct” (communication from WoLF (Women’s Libertion Front) 12 May 2023). 

Cotton/boxer ceiling

Cotton ceiling borrows from the feminist analysis of the glass ceiling that prevents women from progressing up the career hierarchy because of prejudice against women in managerial positions. Cotton ceiling refers to the barriers heterosexual men who identify as transgender lesbians experience in their efforts to have sex with a lesbian. Lesbians who resist such pressures may be shamed by statements that they are transphobic and discriminatory. The origin of the term cotton ceiling has been attributed to a transgender identified male porn star in 2012. The term refers to female cotton underpants as a barrier to male penetration.


A political theory in which a woman recognises that women are an oppressed sex class and, secondly, that the woman acts to change the situation. Feminist activism includes a wide range of acts such as attending protests, writing a poem or article, creating art, activism that creates social good such as setting up refuges and rape crisis centres, working to change policy or laws such as laws around rape and domestic violence, fighting for better wages for women.

Radical feminism is a theory based on a structural analysis of patriarchy that challenges racism, capitalism as well as misogyny as structural oppressions. Radical feminists are critical of the sex industry, including pornography, prostitution and stripping as industries; radical feminists argue against surrogacy as a misogynist industry which uses the bodies of women for profit; radical feminists are critical of the transgender industry which denies the sex-class of women and replaces it with a ‘feeling’ based on sex stereotypes; radical feminists support the development of women’s culture and the recognition of women’s spaces for women.


American Black feminist, academic, lawyer and activist Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term in 1989 as a way to understand the multidimentsional experiences of discrimination according to race, sex and class for example. It has been appropriated by transgender ideologues to support their claims they suffer more than others from discrimination. 

Biological essentialism

Radical feminists are often labelled biologically essentialist because they insist on the importance of the material reality of a woman’s sexed body as a site of her oppression. This is different from an essentialist position that reduces women to only our biology that determines (controls) us (eg the essentialist view of women as ruled by our hormones, reproductive organs, etc). Biological essentialism is commonly used by transgenderists against feminists who criticise gender ideology.

Human Rights

The United Nations defines human rights as ‘ rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more.  Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination.’ Feminists have been critical of the male-centred approach in the adoption of a liberal approach for ‘equality’ between men and women and a false dichotomy between the (female) private and (male) public arenas. Feminists assert that women’s rights (eg a right to freedom from male violence, sexual and economic exploitation)  are human rights. A major contemporary example is women’s fight to retain our hard-won sex-based rights that are being undermined by transgender activists who claim their rights are suffering more than those of women and other oppressed groups. The Declaration  on Women’s Sex-Based Rights was launched in New York in March 2019 as a way to affirm women’s sex-based rights, as exemplified in the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 18 December 1979 (CEDAW).  CoAL’s formation arose out of concerns about threats to lesbian rights as human rights, and fuelled our early application for UN NGO accreditation and attendance at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995.

A  comprehensive and research-informed paper on sex and gender identity. ‘AF4WR has fact-checked the key claims made by transgender activists and other interest groups, the media and politicians. Overwhelmingly, these claims just don’t stack up. On these pages you can find the facts on these claims, backed by research, along with reasons why these facts matter and links to further readings and resources.’