Did you know that sex, gender and sexuality are all seperate things!? BOOOOOMM!! Mind blown!? This can get a little confusing, so let's break it down...
'Sex' is used to describe what you are assigned at birth, based on what's in between your legs (a penis = male, or a vagina = female). However, this is not the full picture. Sex is defined by genitals, including internal sex organs, chromosomes and hormones. There are three sex variations:
- Male (penis, XY chromosomes, high levels of testosterone)
- Female (vagina, XX chromosomes, high levels of eostrogen)
- Intersex (a person born with the sexual anatomy or chromosomes that don't fit the traditional definition of male or female. A combination of reproductive sex organs, iincluding internal sex organs, chromosomes. and hormones).
'Gender' is used to describe the traditional social roles for males and females. Gender Identity describes how someone feels on the inside, and Gender Expression describes how someone chooses to present their gender to the world. You know how society tends to announce a baby boy with the colour blue or a baby girl with the colour pink? Or how boys are given trucks and girls are given dolls? And how men are encouraged to play sports and be a tough 'man' and women are encouraged to paint their nails and do their hair and where makeup? These are societal constructs of gender. There are three gender variations:
- Cisgender - a person who identifies with the sex they were assigned at birth. For example, a person who was assigned as a male at birth, and identifies as male, or vice versa.
- Transgender - a person whose gender identity does not match the sex they were assigned at birth. For example, a person who was assigned as a male at birth, but identifies as female, or vice versa.
- Gender Fluid - a person whose gender identity is not fixed and / or shifts depending on the situation. These people don't feel the need to act according to the sex they were assigned at birth and the associated traditional social roles.
Some transgender people might have surgery, take hormones or change the way they look or dress to bring their body into alignment with how they identify, but not all trangender people can or want to do this. Being transgender is not dependant on your physical appearance or medical procedures. Hence, the importance of not reducing a person to their genitals (whether they have a penis or vagina). Anyway, does it really matter? How is this any of my business?
Pronouns become important when talking about someones gender identity. Some may identify as 'he', 'she', or 'they'. If someone asks you to call them by a particular pronoun, it's important to respect their wishes. You wouldn't continue to call someone 'Elizabeth' if they asked you to call them 'Liz' or 'Beth' now would you?
- Pansexual - 'Pan', meaning 'all-inclusive', refers to a person's attraction to multiple genders. Some pansexual people describe their attraction as being based on chemistry rather than gender, but everyone is different.
- Questioning - Some people may be unsure about their sexuality and / or are exploring it, so might identify as 'questioning'.
- + many more variations of sexuality!
Three of the most common aspects used to describe sexuality are: