This article is from Men’s Health. Link below …
“There’s a chance you landed here because you may not totally be clear on all the terms and phrases to express gender identity. “It’s understandable that some folks may feel confused or even uncomfortable with all the variations of gender, gender identities, and gender roles,” says Tracy Marsh, PhD, faculty member for Walden University’s PhD in Clinical Psychology program, and a licensed psychologist in California who specializes in LGBTQIA issues. Or, you could be exploring your own gender identity and looking for the right words to express yourself and help others understand.
Thankfully, it’s 2021, and many of the terms surrounding gender are becoming more widely recognized in our society. “These concepts and terms will continue to evolve. The best way to stay informed is to reach out and have a respectful dialogue with someone who has more knowledge of these terms and topics. Ask others how they identify and how they prefer to be addressed,” Marsh says.
Women’s Health spoke to experts on those questions you may want to ask, but don’t know exactly where to start: What exactly does gender identity mean? What is biological sex vs. gender? And how do gender identity and sexuality relate? First, Jackie Golob, MS, who works at a private practice at the Centre for Sexual Wellness in Minnesota, provides an overview on some commonly confused ideas surrounding gender identity.
- Genitalia does not equal gender. “The sex characteristics a person is born with do not signify a person’s gender identity. When people have ‘gender reveal parties,’ it really should be called a ‘genital reveal party,’” she offers. The concept of gender really is a social construct, adds Golob.
- Forget about the two-gender binary. “Gender is a term that relates to how we feel about ourselves, the way we choose to express our gender through makeup, dresses, high heels, athletic shorts, sneakers, and more,” she explains. Our society has convinced us that there are just two options for gender identity, “male” and “female,” based on biological sex. But in reality, there’s more fluidity.
- Gender identity is on a continuum. It’s not just the male/female gender binary—there’s a spectrum of gender identity. “[Most people] lie in between [the binary], with personality traits that relate to gender identity, expression, and biological sex. Gender identity can change over time, and it is not fixed,” says Golob. Just because you identify one way at one point in time, does not mean you will always choose that identity, or that your identity won’t shift and evolve.
- Sexuality and gender identity are not the same thing. “Gender identity is how you feel about yourself and the ways you express your gender and biological sex,” says Golob. Meanwhile, sexuality refers to who you are emotionally, physically, romantically, or sexually attracted to, she says. In summary, “gender is how you feel about yourself, while sexuality is how you feel about others,” says Golob.
Now that you have the basics, let’s do a deep dive into gender identity terms and what they each mean.”