A Brief Gender Crash Course
Updated: Jan 24, 2020
UNDERSTANDING THE BASICS OF GENDER AND SEXUALITY
REFERENCES LISTED BELOW
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:
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
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?
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
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).
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
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
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 www.hardellmedia.com
Or visit LGBTQ Terms by ChandlerNWilson for FREE at https://www.chandlernwilson.com/terms