Traditionally, family planning guidance and other related documents have only referred to “women”, viewing “cisgender” women as the norm, since in most settings they are the majority of those seeking family planning, and often these documents assume that these women are only in heterosexual relationships. However, there is increasing recognition of men’s contraceptive needs (for example, use of male-controlled methods and men’s support of their female partners’ contraceptive decision-making and use), as well as of the needs of people with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities, understanding that the binary categories of “men “and “women” do not apply to all people.

Providers may come across transgender and gender-diverse people seeking family planning. Because of gender inequalities and inequities, transgender and gender-diverse people face systemic disadvantages, violence, stigma, and discrimination in society and in health care settings (3,4,5). These can create barriers to access to health care, support, and information. It is important, therefore, that providers recognize and address diversity so that all individual clients and couples seeking family planning can access them without stigma or discrimination and in ways that encourage them to make decisions that are safe, appropriate, and best meet their needs and their preferences.

Key Gender Inclusion and Diversity Definitions (2)
  • Gender identity refers to each person’s deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned to them at birth. An individual’s gender identity is not necessarily confined to an identity that is completely male or completely female.
  • Transgender, nonbinary, gender fluid, and/or gender queer are terms used to describe an individual’s gender identity when it differs from their assigned sex.
  • Cisgender can be used to describe an individual’s gender identity when it aligns with the sex assigned to them at birth.
  • Gender expression refers to the way one chooses to dress, speak, or generally conduct oneself socially. The way an individual expresses their gender is not always indicative of their gender identity.