When it comes to gender and sexual identity, there has been an explosion of labels that some find confusing. Terminology is changing to express a broad spectrum of identities beyond male/female, man/woman, and gay/straight.
DeeWho is Dee?
Hi! I’m here to help you explore the vast spectrum of LGBTQ+ identities. It’s a big world out there, and for a long time, we’ve tried to lump everyone into just a handful of categories: man or woman, gay or straight. We now know it’s more complex than that, factoring in all four core elements: biological sex, gender identity, gender expression and attraction. Let’s get started...
The infinite variety in human identity
For a long time, people have used pairs of opposites to make sense of the world—black or white, nature or nurture, gay or straight, boy or girl. Human beings and the world we inhabit just aren’t that simple.
Beyond the binary
The term “non-binary” is used a lot these days. Learn more about identities beyond the categories of man/woman, gay/straight, and male/female.
Non-binary gender identities have been around for a long time. They have recently begun to be recognized in the US and other western countries.
Researchers have been measuring a spectrum of sexual orientations for over 70 years.
Hear from real people with a variety of gender and sexual identities as they talk about their lives and experiences.
(Adj.) Describes a person who does not identify with any gender.
(Adj.) Describes a person who does not experience any form of sexual attraction. People who identify as asexual may or may not experience emotional, physical, or romantic attraction.
(Adj.) Describes the sexual orientation of persons who are emotionally, sexually, and/or romantically attracted to persons of the same sex/gender. While the term is most often used to describe men, it can also be used more broadly to refer to both men and women (i.e., gay man, gay woman, gay people).
(Noun) A social construct used to classify a person as a man, woman, or some other identity and ascribe qualities of masculinity and femininity to people. Gender characteristics can change over time and vary between cultures.
(Noun) A socially constructed system that defines gender as consisting solely of two categories--masculine/man and feminine/woman.
(Noun) The ways that a person communicates a gender identity to others such as dress, behavior, hairstyle, voice, and/or mannerisms.
(Adj.) Describes a person who identifies their gender as shifting within a spectrum of gender identities and expressions. A person who is gender fluid may always feel like a mix of two (or more) genders, but may feel more one gender some days, and another gender other days. Gender-fluid people may or may not also identify as transgender.
(Noun) An umbrella term for more than twenty distinct medical conditions in which a person is born with physical sex markers (genitals, hormones, gonads, chromosomes, or secondary sex characteristics like breasts or body hair) that are neither clearly male nor clearly female. Also referred to as disorders of sexual development (DSD).
(Adj./Noun) Refers to the sexual orientation of women who are emotionally, sexually, and/or romantically attracted to women.
(Adj.) Alternative term to LGBTQ+. An umbrella term for anyone who does not identify as heterosexual. Historically a negative term and insult, queer is being reclaimed by many LGBTQ+ people—particularly youth—as a source of pride and political identity. The term is valued by some for its defiance, by some because it can be inclusive of the entire community, and by others who find it to be an appropriate term to describe their more fluid identities. “Queer” is still disliked by some people in the LGBTQ+ community and its use by straight people can be considered offensive. Due to its varying meanings, this word should only be used when self-identifying or quoting someone who self-identifies as queer (i.e. “My cousin identifies as genderqueer.”)
Sex / Sex assigned at birth / Biological sex
(Noun) A person's sex (male, female, or intersex) is often determined based on the appearance of the genitalia, either in ultrasound or at birth. In reality, biological sex is more complicated, referring to a combination of anatomical, physiological, genetic, and physical attributes. These include genitalia, gonads, hormone levels, hormone receptors, chromosomes, genes, and secondary sex characteristics. The phrase "sex assigned at birth" is used by some to emphasize that genitalia alone are not always a sufficient indication of a person's sex, as well as the fact that a person's gender identity is not always aligned with the sex characteristics observed at birth.
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Citations & Sources
Ainsworth, C. (2015). Sex redefined: The idea of two sexes is simplistic. Biologists now think there is a wider spectrum than that. Retrieved from https://www.nature.com/news/sex-redefined-1.16943
American Psychological Association. (2006). Answers to your questions about individuals with intersex conditions. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/topics/lgbt/intersex.aspx
Ellen Meets Trailblazing Actor Asia Kate Dillon [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f97aLkl_kWc
Freeman, H. (2017, September 16). Let’s drop the gender stereotypes-we are all non-binary. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/sep/16/drop-gender-stereotypes-we-are-all-non-binary
Khan, F. (2015, September 1). I'm pansexual – here are the five biggest misconceptions about my sexuality. Retrieved from http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/im-pansexual-here-are-the-five-biggest-misconceptions-ab...
Kinsey Institute, Indiana University. (2014). Kinsey Institute Homepage. Retrieved from https://www.kinseyinstitute.org/
LGBT 101: An introduction to the Queer community [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DE7bKmOXY3w
Pugachevsky, J. (2017, April 26). What Does It Mean to Be Pansexual? Retrieved from http://www.cosmopolitan.com/sex-love/a9529384/pansexual-definition-meaning/
What is a Non-Binary Gender Identity? [Video File]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8UgxG8e2TY
What It’s Like To Be Intersex. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAUDKEI4QKI