Nov 072010
 

I want to talk about this. Why? Because some people don’t know, and others who I assume would know either are unaware or have forgotten.

Sex and gender are NOT the same thing.

Sex is usually defined as female, male and occasionally intersex. It is assigned to you at birth by your doctor, usually based on your genitalia, sometimes chromosomes if testing has been done. It’s is often said that “sex is between your legs.”

Gender can often be defined as woman, man, transgender, genderqueer. However, the number of genders out there is unmeasurable. Femme is a gender. Butch is a gender. Femme queen. AG/Aggressive. Boi. Genderfucker. Andro. All of these are gender identities and/or gender presentations. Gender identity is how you identify to yourself (and sometimes others) and gender presentation is how you present said gender identity to the rest of the world. It is often said that “gender is what is between your ears” in that gender is not a physical identifier, but rather, your identity, feelings, presentation, etc.

Cisgender is someone whose assigned sex at birth matches their gender identity. A person assigned male who identifies as a man, a person assigned female who identifies as a woman.

Transgender, while a huge umbrella term for gender discussions and identities as a whole, can be said to be someone whose gender identity does NOT match their assigned sex; a person assigned male at birth who identifies as female, a person assigned female at birth who identifies as genderqueer, etc.

Recently, at a professional conference in the field of sexuality, I was saddened to see many sexual professionals talk about “the two genders” or do studies that said “Gender? Male or Female.” I think as we continue to grow this field and be more inclusive of all people, it is incredibly important to be aware of whether we’re talking about sex or gender, and do our research and presentations accordingly. I’m not even going to start with the way “homosexual” was used to identify people, or the fact that I (as a queer kinky disabled femme) was often offended at the use of language throughout the conference….but really, I’d liketo make sure EVERYONE, regardless of whether you’re a sex educator/therapist, a middle school teacher, a personal trainer or a homemaker, knows the basic difference between sex and gender, as it is SO incredibly important to being inclusive in our society.

Shanna

  5 Responses to “Sex =/= Gender”

  1. Well said! I agree, it’s important to understand the difference between sex and gender– and it’s nice to have such a clear, concise explanation to share. Thanks!

  2. Hear, hear! So important to note, and so clearly said. As a GQ femme sex worker I’ve noticed that while most of my clients are male bodied, quite a few aren’t male identified and appreciate the use of inclusive language.

    I hope that someday mainstream sexuality education will be aware that gender is surprisingly fluid and can shift and change for many of us – and when that change happens I’m willing to bet you’ll be behind it. :)

  3. Good share, great article, very usefull for us…thanks.

  4. It’s good that you’re talking about this!
    There’s also a difference between cisgender and cissex.

  5. i thought this was a really great post to read. i’ll check back for new posts by you!

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