Understanding Gender and Sexuality

  • gender as a social construct
  • gender as a legitimate way for people to define themselves as well
  • gender as a necessary construct (perhaps)
    • with still emphasis of gender as a social construct

When it comes to Gender and Sexuality, our understanding of it can be very different from the people next to us.

To begin, it is important to understand that gender is a construct, or theory, that some people live by and others don’t. In this world, people often live by constructs, finding comfort in it as they are designed for them, while others feel repressed by them. Gender, used to be a construct centered around man and woman and the pronouns of he/she to describe the appropriate one. This was called cisgendered; however, over time people found bravery and necessity to come forward and share that they do not feel like this binary defines them. These individuals might have been assigned male or female at birth (AFAB or AMAB) and might even ascribe to ideas of anatomical sex where someones idea of psychological sense of self is what defines their gender. If someone has had the experience of not having to question their gender, this might be something they associate with.

Just as constant in history, yet unspoken about due to stigma are Transgender individuals. It is important to note that transgender folks are subject violence pervasively and this must stop. For someone whose gender might not match the sex they were assigned at birth, they might decide to transition. Transitioning allows someone to go from one gender end of the binary to the other, or somewhere in between. Transitioning can mean whatever that individual decides and can begin and end wherever they like. People who are transgender might decide to change their pronouns more commonly than not so it is important to be respectful and kind when it comes to trying to correctly gender someone. Imagine what it would be like if someone got your gender incorrect, and it was a critical part of how you move through this world.

Cishet folks are where it starts to get even more fun as gender identity and biological are aligned, and individuals are heterosexual. This might look like a person identifying as a man because they were born with a penis whom is romantically and sexually involved with females. It might also look like an AFAB who identifies as a woman who is involved with men.

Thus far, we have mainly been talking about gender as it is associated with the binary; however, Non-binary identifies people who feel like the binary of male and female constrains them. Now this could be referencing non-binary as opposed to gender and sexuality as gay is often in opposition to straight, or it could be gender as male versus female. In the end, it is important to understand that non-binary individuals do not subscribe to gender as it has been constructed.

Genderqueer folks are not just unsatisfied with gender as it is constructed, as it is often used interchangeably by individuals who identify as non-binary, but they might see themselves as a combination of genders. Not man nor woman, but a combination lying wherever they like inbetween.

Gender-fluid folks are people who might express both male and female traits and vary on a daily basis with the gender they feel most attached to. It is important to think about gender in its most isolated form rather than associated with a sexuality here. Gender for an individual might differ over time and can occur at a young or old age.

Gender Non-Conforming folks are those who do not conform to cultural and societal gender norms. This could range from how people perform their assigned gender at birth to their pronouns and sex traits.