We’re all aware and accepting of the two sexes i.e Male and Female only because they have been incorporated into society since time immemorial. What about the others?
Q1. What is the difference between Sex and Gender?
First things first – sex and gender do not mean the same thing. They are not interchangeable. In fact, they have quite different meanings which people either ignore or aren’t aware of.
Sex refers to males and females; i.e sex implies the biological differences, chromosomes, hormonal profiles, internal sex organs. It is determined on the basis of the visual inspection of the newborn’s genitalia.
Gender refers to masculine or feminine; i.e it is a social construct that characterises how males and females are supposed to behave (males are supposed to be masculine, while females are supposed to be feminine).
‘man’ = male sex + masculine social role
‘female’ = female sex + feminine social role (1)
Q2. How many types of Sexes and Genders are there?
There are three types of sexes: Male (persons born with a penis and testicles), Female (persons born with a vagina and uterus), Hermaphrodite or Intersex (persons born with both male and female sex organs).
There are several types of genders for example, Transgender (a person whose self identity does not conform with their biological sex)
In better words, according to a writer on Quora, who puts it very eloquently:
“Imagine a gradient. Here’s one:
How many discrete colours are in that gradient?
Sure, you can see some easily identifiable ones. There’s a bunch of blues, some yellows, some reds, some greens… And so on.
But it’s tougher to separate out a specific number of colors, and there doesn’t really need to be a specific total because gradients serve a different purpose.
Gender is like that. It’s not about body parts.” (2)
Q3. What is Genderfluid?
Please note that this isn’t some kind of liquid that somehow enhances your existence or whatsoever, you’re confusing it with vegetable juice. *rolls eyes*
To be genderfluid means to have a gender identity which varies over time and is fluid. Some days a gender fluid person may feel more male, some days more female and some days they may feel like they are both, neither, or a mixture. (3)
Q4. What does nonbinary, bigender and agender mean?
NONBINARY: it is an umbrella concept, i.e covers any gender identity that doesn’t fit in within the gender binary, some of which are:
- Agender: without gender; often used as an identification for people who do not identify with or conform to any gender; pronouns used include they/them.
- Bigender: tendency to shift between both masculine and feminine gender type behaviour (depending on context).
- Genderfluid: it means to have a gender identity which varies over time and is fluid, a genderfluid person may feel like a mix of male and female, but may feel boy more some days, feel girl more other days (has nothing to do with their genitalia)
- Neutrois: considered to be a neutral or null gender; it may also refer to someone who identifies as genderless, neither male nor female.
- Androgynous: having both male and female characteristics (in appearance).
Q5. What does cisgender and transgender mean?
- Cisgender (abb, cis) : a person whose self-identity conforms with their biological sex.
For example: a cisgender woman is a person who was assigned female at birth and identifies as female.
a cisgender male = a male
a cisgender female = female
- Transgender: a person whose self identity does not conform with their biological sex.
(i) a transgender woman is a person who was assigned male at birth but who identifies as a female.
(ii) a transgender man is a person who was assigned female at birth but who identifies as a male.
DISCLAIMER: Being transgender is not a phase or a choice, but a consistent gender identity. (4)
Q6. What is the LGBTQ+ Community?
The acronym LGBT stands for “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender”. The community refers to a group of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and LGBT-supportive people and organisations united by a common culture and social movements.
Lesbian: a woman who is primarily attracted to other women.
Gay: a person who is attracted primarily to members of the same sex; it can be used for any sex (eg: gay man, gay woman, gay person), “lesbian” is the preferred term for women to who are attracted to women. (5)
Bisexual: a person who is attracted to people of their own gender as well as the opposite gender; also called “bi”.
Transgender (the third gender): in addition to the definition given above (a person whose self identity does not conform with their biological sex), this is frequently used as an umbrella term to refer to all people who do not identify with their assigned gender at birth or the binary gender system (i.e males and females); this includes:
- drag kings and drag queens, and others;
Some transgender people feel they exist not within one of the two standard gender categories, but rather somewhere between, beyond, or outside of those two genders. (6)
Queer: (i) an umbrella term sometimes used by LGBTQ people to refer to the entire LGBT community; (ii) an alternative that some people use to labels and categories such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, etc. The word “queer” often has a derogatory sense to it.
Q7. What does the “+” after LGBTQ mean?
The “+” sign after LGBTQ implies the addition of additional letters to the acronym; this often connotes broader inclusion of different communities and community members. All out, the letters come down to: LGBTQQIP2SAA i.e Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and:
- Questioning: refers to individuals who are unsure of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity
- Intersex: people with two sets of genitalia or various chromosomal differences
- Pansexual: refers to individuals who feel emotional and sexual and romantic attraction to individuals of all gender identities and sexes
- 2S for Two-Spirit: a tradition in many First Nations (American-Indian community) that considers sexual minorities to have both male and female spirits
- Asexual: a person who generally does not feel sexual attraction or desire to any group of people; asexuality is not the same as celibacy.
- Allies: recognising that the community thrives best with loving supporters, although they are not really part of the community itself. (7)
Q8. Who are Heterosexuals and Homosexuals? What does Homophobia mean?
Heterosexual: a person who is only attracted to members of the opposite sex; also called “straight.” (eg: a man is attracted to a woman; a woman attracted to a man)
Homosexual (a.k.a ‘gay’): a person who is attracted to members of the same sex;
The process of acknowledging one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity to other people is called “coming out“. For most LGBT people this is a life-long process.
HOMOPHOBIA: a range of negative attitudes and feelings toward homosexuality or people who are identified or perceived as being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT); it can be expressed as contempt, prejudice, aversion, or hatred, may be based on irrational fear, and is sometimes related to religious beliefs. (8)
In the words of Tumblr:
DISCLAIMER: It’s extremely important to respect a person’s desired self-identity. It is wrong for anyone to assume another person’s identity based on the person’s appearance. Before jumping to conclusions, it is always best to ask people how they identify, including what pronouns they prefer.
PS: Please do notify me if I got any information wrong, this stuff is important and I need to know where I went wrong!
PPS: If you’d like to read more about this, visit http://www.rainbowwelcome.org/faq#faq1 for some more FAQs (or feel free to drop one in a comment section!)