Gender Identity

Hi Readers!

Happy Monday! It’s great to be back on this platform. Today we are learning about gender identity! Let’s begin!

Gender Identity is a person’s internal sense or feeling of being male or female. This feeling may not be the same as one’s biological sex. To understand gender identity, you need to understand the difference between the terms sex and gender.

Gender is what you feel you belong to and may differ from the one you were assigned to at birth, based on your genitals.

Sex is about the genital and reproductive organs (penis, vagina, uterus, testicles, etc.), it is about the secondary sexual characteristics such as breasts, beard, hips, etc., it is the distinction between female and male.

By contrast, gender is the pronoun you use to speak to a person (him/her, he/she), it is the different social codes like the appearance, clothes, makeup, etc., it is the distinction between feminine and masculine.

Unfortunately, these terms are very rigid and binary. To be able to include and represent all of the diversity of gender identities, sexes and gender expression, we need to look at this in a more fluid way. Think of it as a horizontal ladder that represents diversity and so much more than just two options. Below we will look at gender identity, sex and gender expression. The words below are used to facilitate the reading. You can be anywhere on any of the ladders simultaneously as these 3 terms are mutually exclusive. If you do the exercise now and put a dot on every line where you are situated today, it may not be the same answer in a few days or months. Some individuals have a different response every day.

Gender identity

Woman                                                 Gender fluid                                           Man

Sex

Female                                                    Intersex                                             Male

Gender expression

Feminine                                               Non-binary                                  Masculine

There is an entire vocabulary to describe gender identity – let’s look at a few:

  • Bigender: Someone who identifies with two genders i.e.: male and female.
  • Cisgender or cis: When your gender matches the sex you were assigned at birth.
  • Gender fluid: when your identity moves around on the gender spectrum
  • Gender neutral: someone who doesn’t identify with any gender
  • Gender non-binary: Someone who doesn’t fit into the binary gender (male/female)
  • Gender fluid: When your identity moves around the gender spectrum. 
  • Gender expression: The way in which a person’s expresses their gender identity, typically through appearance, dress, and behaviour. 
  • Intersex: People whose biology doesn’t easily fit into male or female. This can include genitals, chromosomes or hormones. 
  • Polygender: describes people who have multiple genders at once. 
  • Transgender: A person whose gender identity, outward appearance, expression and/or anatomy does not fit into conventional expectations of male or female. 
  • Transsexual: An old fashioned term for someone who goes through, or wants to go through, gender realignment. This is why we use the word Trans* as it an umbrella term to describe people whose gender identity doesn’t line up with their assigned sex at birth. Also, if someone tells you they are a woman and would like you to use the pronoun she/her and her preferred name is ____. Respect that please. That person will really appreciate the fact that you are respecting their wish and you are not judging them.
  • Two-spirit: some Aboriginal people identify themselves as two-spirit rather than as bisexual, gay, lesbian or transgender. Historically, in many Aboriginal cultures, two-spirit persons were respected leaders and medicine people. Before colonization, two-spirit persons were often accorded special status based upon their unique abilities to understand both male and female perspective (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2011). 

I hope this has helped you understand some of the different terms that are out there and helped your mind to grow a little …. If you have any questions please contact me on depetrillojulia@gmail.com

Be kind to one another!

Julia, Sexologist

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