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  • Writer's pictureChandler

A Brief Gender Crash Course

Updated: Jan 24, 2020




What is Sex?*

Typically defined as:

“Either of the two main categories (male and female) into which humans and many other living things are divided on the basis of their reproductive functions.” (Oxford Dictionary, 2016)

-- A method of classification invented by humans

-- A system strongly influenced by society’s binary views of gender

-- The classification a person receives is largely based on the following:

  • Chromosomes

  • Hormones

  • Gametes

  • Primary Sex Characteristics

  • External and Internal sex organs

  • Secondary Sex Characteristics

  • Developed during puberty

"Ideal Male" "Ideal Female"

Lots of Testosterone Lots of Estrogen

XY chromosomes XX chromosomes

Sperm Ovum

Penis Vulva

Testicles Uterus

Facial hair growth Little to no facial hair growth

Deeper voice Higher voice

Broad shoulders Broad hips

More muscular build Breasts


Sex Categorization is Limited*

While there are biological patterns, they are not rules.

What is intersex?

  • A person who does not completely fit into either of society’s ideas of what it means to be male or female

  • 1 in 200 people

  • Roughly the same as the number of natural redheads

  • Sex assignment is based on limited biological information

  • Primarily sex is assigned quickly based off of external sexual organs

  • When an infant’s genitalia is hard to classify, doctors may be uncertain of which binary sex to assign

  • This may result in surgical intervention which aims to physically and hormonally alter people’s bodies in order to provide them with “more socially acceptable sex characteristics” such as shown in the “Ideal Male/Female” table.

“These procedures don’t benefit our health, are performed without our consent, and may result in lasting physical, psychological, and/or emotional harm.” –Claudia, out intersex person


What is Gender?

  • Mental connection

  • In the context of individual self:*

  • The state of being a man, woman, both, neither, somewhere in between, or something entirely different.

  • In the context of society:*

  • A socially constructed system of classification which typically perceives people as one of two binary genders – man or woman – and assigns a set of cultural expectations of roles, behaviors, expressions, and characteristics to each person based on that classification

  • Gender =/= Sex*

  • Gender is not physical in any capacity

  • Gender is composed of self-understanding and self-perception

  • Sex is rooted in biology while gender is rooted in who we know ourselves to be beyond our biology

  • Fluid

  • Spectrum


Gender is a Spectrum

Gender is a personal sense of self which means it can be a different experience for everyone.

According to Dr. Lisa Griffin,

“Gender is so intensely personal that if we really wanted to delve into it, every single person experiences it differently.”

This graphic depicts the sense of womanhood (top left), manhood (bottom right), no gender experience (bottom left), and nonbinary gender experience (top right).


Gender Terminology

  • Sex Assigned At Birth – the designation of being male, female, or intersex either during pregnancy or once a child is born.

  • AFAB – Assigned Female At Birth

  • AMAB – Assigned Male At Birth

  • Gender Identity – the description of one’s gender or gender alignment.

  • Cisgender (adjective) A person whose gender identity matches their sex assigned at birth (ex: a woman who was assigned female a birth); comes from the prefix “cis” which generally means “same”

  • Transgender (adjective) A person whose gender identity does not match their sex assigned at birth (ex: a woman who was assigned male at birth); comes from the prefix “trans” which generally means "across"

  • Nonbinary / Non-binary (adjective) Can be an umbrella term; a person whose gender identity does not align 100% as male nor 100% as female; can be a separate and specific identity; a person whose gender experience is entirely separate from the man/woman binary; may also identify as transgender

  • Trans Woman A woman who was assigned male at birth

  • Trans Man A man who was assigned female at birth

  • Trans Feminine A person who was assigned male at birth but is more aligned to womanhood / feminine gender(s)

  • Trans Masculine A person who was assigned female at birth but is more aligned to manhood / masculine gender(s)

  • Genderfluid A person whose gender experience fluctuates, changes, or is consistently multitudinous; a person who experiences multiple genders either consecutively or simultaneously

  • Agender A person who does not experience gender


Sexual Orientation*

What is sexual orientation?

  • Indicates who someone is/isn’t sexually attracted to

  • Having a heightened interest in someone because they stimulate sexual desire or arousal

  • Includes:

  • What gender(s) someone is sexually attracted to

  • How intensely/often someone experiences sexual attraction (if at all)

  • The conditions under which one experiences sexual attraction


Sexual Orientation Terminology*

Heterosexual / Straight

  • Being sexually attracted to the other binary gender

Homosexual / Gay

  • A person who is sexually attracted to the same or similar gender(s) as their own

  • Gay as a label can have a few meanings:

  • Men who are attracted to men

  • People who are primarily attracted to the same or similar gender as their own

  • An umbrella term for anyone not straight

Bisexual / Pansexual

  • Being attracted to two or more genders

  • Being attracted to multiple different and/or similar genders


  • Experiencing little to no sexual attraction



* = Content derived either directly or paraphrased from The GayBC's of LGBT by Ash Hardell, available below:

For more information about gender and sexuality, download The GayBC’s of LGBT by Ash Hardell for FREE at

Or visit LGBTQ Terms by ChandlerNWilson for FREE at

#LGBTQ #ComingOut #Transgender #AroAce

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