Source Nadine Schwickart©
Discovering the conversation being had around gender is very rewarding. As a cisgender woman in the twenty-first century I haven’t had to think about gender too much because of how the world is constructed to be accessible to me on many levels. People often express their confusion as to why there are so many gender identities these days and that its just kind of silly, kind of like a trend. Of course these are people who have been privileged enough to not have their assigned gender ever be a source of anguish. There are many different genders being expressed because there are as many genders as people in the world. Feminine and masculine attributes can help define certain aesthetics, but an aesthetic does not a person make. Genitalia does not gender make.
Gender is identity, whichever identity you chose for yourself.
This conversation about gender constructs is gaining traction as the years go by, growing alongside millennials. It seems that gender conversations amongst Gen-Z is more common-place than ever. This is great news. The thing is, if you are straight and cisgender, and gender conversation bothers you, you can just chose blissful ignorance and call it a day. Because you can afford to.
But studying up on gender is really a way to be more connected and empathetic to the world we are currently living in. Fighting gender roles, whether you're cis or trans, is doing no one any harm and many people a lot of good—we are refusing to be caged in by social expectations and reduced to something we are not.
Labels are starting points for the purpose of having further conversation about gender, a tool. A word can never encapsulate a person. Some identities just scratch the surface of who you are.
So lets delve into some definitions and explanations that can help everyone understand a little more about the gender spectrum.
Source: M. Sharkey©
⬇ Gender most often refers to a set of social, psychological, and emotional traits, often influenced by societal expectations that classify an individual as “feminine” or “masculine”. It doesn't only stop at classifying individuals though, people use gender to classify objects, hobbies, clothes, even ships.
Gender Identity: A persons conception of their own gender.
Gender Expression: The performance of ones gender; especially how it is communicated to others through behavior and other forms of presentation.
Gender Role: Expectations about a particular gender, as influenced by society.
GENDER ≠ SEX People oftentimes confuse gender with sex. While gender refers to your identity and your expression of it, sex is a label that refers strictly to your body, specifically your reproductive organs.
Source: Poem Baker©
GENDER SYSTEMS ⬇
Gender Binary: the idea that there are only two genders; masculine and feminine
Gender Spectrum: imagines infinite genders ranging from the masculine to the feminine.
The Gender Spectrum [infinite genders] subdivides into two “categories” ⬇
❤︎ Cisgender: individuals whose gender identity matches up with the sex assigned to them at birth.
❤︎ Transgender: this term encapsulates many identities which have in common an element of crossing over or challenging gender roles, expressions or expectations. The transgender spectrum is very large and varied, and we have laid out the info of what was coined as the Transgender Umbrella*.
Transgender: this term encapsulates many identities which have in common an element of crossing over or challenging gender roles, expressions or expectations.
Masculine women: someone who identifies as a woman whose gender expression and presentation happens to fall on the masculine side of the gender spectrum.
Androgynous persons: a person whose gender expression is ambiguous or between the masculine and feminine norms or a person whose gender expression is about equally high in masculine and feminine qualities.
Feminine men: someone who identifies as a man whose gender expression and presentation happens to fall on the feminine side of the gender spectrum.
Drag Queens & Kings: drag is the conscious, self-referential, often sexy performance of gender for an audience. Traditionally, drag queens represent a caricature of femininity, while drag kings similarly represent masculine archetypes.
Third gender: refers to those who identify with a gender that is neither masculine nor feminine.
Agender: those who identify with having no gender or a neutral gender. They may seek to make their bodies more gender-neutral to match their identity.
Two-Spirit: A Native American term for people who blend the masculine and the feminine. It is commonly used to describe individuals who historically crossed gender. It is often used by contemporary LGBTQ Native American people to describe themselves.
Pangender: those who identify with all the genders
Polygender: someone who identifies with many (not all) of the genders
Gender fluid: those whose gender behavior and presentation changes depending on the situation or their mood.
Trans woman: an identity that refers to people who were assigned a male sex at birth and were socialized as such, & have since realized their gender identity is female and desire to live full-time as a woman.
Trans man: an identity that refers to people who were assigned a female sex at birth and were socialized as such, & have since realized their gender identity is male and desire to live full-time as a man.
Genderqueer (a.k.a non-binary): describes those whose identities fall outside of the widely accepted gender binaries. Genderqueer folks show a wide diversity in gender expression and presentation. What genderqueer individuals all share is a nonconforming gender identity and an opposition to gender systems that they perceive as limiting.
Intersex: an individual whose biological sex characteristics (chromosomes, hormones, genitalia) are not exclusively male or female (previously known as hermaphrodite, a term no longer accepted).
Crossdresser: anyone who wears clothes for another gender without a full-time identity of that gender(a.k.a. Transvestite, a term no longer accepted.)
Source: M. Sharkey©
Your gender identity does not predetermine your sexual preference.
The labels and definitions in this article are for educational & clarification purposes, no one can tell you what your identity is.
We have not included all genders and identities as they are as diverse as every person on the planet.
Transgender women are NOT cross-dressers or drag queens. Drag queens are men, typically gay men, who dress like women for the purpose of entertainment.
Do NOT use the word "transvestite" at all, unless someone specifically self-identifies that way.
“Gender roles are as harmful to men as they are to women. Gender should be a buffet… pick and choose what you want in any combination. And you can always go back through the line and choose again”
-The Gender Book
Source: Nelson Morales©
Source: Genesis Breyer P-orridge©
* Information Sources:
The Gender Book
by Mel Reiff Hill and Jay Mays