The gender spectrum isn’t all that complicated when you break it down! Here are 6 easy points about gender to help clear up any confusion.
1) Gender and sex are two different things.
The terms sex and gender are often used interchangeably but they actually have distinct meanings.
Sex refers to biological differences that include a person’s chromosomes and physical body. While we typically assume that males have XY chromosomes and females have XX chromosomes, even sex itself is on a spectrum.
People who are intersex (also known as having a condition of sex differentiation) often have bodies that don’t fit this pattern.
Gender refers to the behavioral, cultural, and psychological traits typically associated with one sex. Babies are usually assigned a male gender at birth if they have a penis, and a female gender if they have a vulva. However, this view is limiting since people can be male, female, transgender,genderqueer , gender non-binary, gender non-conforming, or agender, for example.
2) Gender is not just about being male OR female.
Most people see gender as “binary,” or divided into two and gender is typically presented as: male and female, man and woman, or for children, boy and girl. This binary division also divides people’s gender expression, into masculine and feminine behaviors. But some people identify as non-binary and consider themselves neither men nor women. Others identify as both men and women. It is also possible to be non-binary and identify outside of the male/female divisions, but still identify with a clear gender identity.
3) But if you identify as male or female, there’s a term for that too.
People whose sex assignment at birth lines up with their gender identity and expression are rferred to as gender normative or cisgender, not “normal”
4) Some people’s gender identity shifts over time and from time to time.
Some people are genderfluid and have different gender identities at different times. This can also be known as being bigender. Bigender people may shift between feminine and masculine gender identities and presentations. Some bigender people have clearly “male” and “female” identities and others straddle the line. It is also possible for someone to feel like they are two distinct genders at the same time.
5) It is possible to identify as gender-free.
People sometimes identify as agender or free of gender. These people may not feel bound to any form of gender identity and often prefer “they” as a pronoun instead of he or she. Though society expects people to identify as either male or female, and is growing to understand more about identifying as transgender, the concept that someone is agender is still confusing to many people.
6) Transgender is an umbrella term for many different identities. It is not a sexual orientation.
Sometimes used as an umbrella to describe anyone whose identity or behavior falls outside of stereotypical gender expectations, the term transgender is usually more associated with people whose gender identity does not match their assigned birth gender. Though transgender people may identify with the larger LGB community, many transgender people identify as heterosexual. But however an individual identifies in regards to their sexual orientation, this is not the same as their gender identity.
Gender identity refers to the feeling that you are male, female, transgender, non-binary or agender. Many things contribute to the formation of gender identity, including society, family and factors that are in place before birth.
But understanding the range of gender possibilities can go a long way in helping to understand the gender spectrum
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