Gender Expression is a person's behaviour, interests, mannerisms, and appearance that are often linked with gender specifically masculinity or femininity. It is the way a person shows their gender identity outwardly. It includes physical expressions such as a person’s choice of clothing, hairstyle, makeup, and social expressions such as name and pronoun choice.
Gender vs Sex
Gender refers to the roles, attributes, behaviours, activities, and opportunities that a society associates with the biological sex of an individual. While sex is the biological and physiological differences between male and female, in terms of genitalia and genetic traits.
Gender identity is different from sexual orientation. Sexual orientation or identity is how a person views themselves based on the gender of whom they are sexually attracted to. Sexual identity is a component of an individual's identity that reflects their personal sexual self-perception. Sexual identity is malleable, it can change all through an individual's life, and it may or may not align with biological sex. Examples of sexual identities include Heterosexuality, Homosexuality, Bisexuality, Asexuality, and Pansexuality amongst others.
- Heterosexuality is sexual or romantic attraction and sexual behaviour between people of the opposite sex or gender. A person who is heterosexual is often referred to as straight.
- Bisexuality is sexual or romantic attraction and sexual behaviour towards both males and females. A bisexual identity does not exactly equate to equal sexual attraction to both sexes. Many times, people who do not have an exclusive sexual preference for one sex over the other also identify as bisexual.
- Homosexuality is sexual or romantic attraction and sexual behaviour between people of the same sex or gender. The common terms for homosexual people are lesbian for females and gay for males, but gay also often refers to both homosexual females and males.
- Asexuality is the lack of sexual attraction towards other people, it is the absence of interest or desire for sexual activity. It is important to note that asexuals can identify as heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual or queer.
- Pansexuality is attraction towards people regardless of their sex or gender identity. Pansexual people may refer to themselves as gender-blind because they believe gender and sex are not determining factors in their romantic or sexual attraction to others.
Non-binary or Genderqueer describes individuals who not identify as male or female. Non-binary people have a wide variety of gender expressions which ranges from androgynous, inter-gender, genderfluid and also transgender. Majority of non-binary people often use They/Them pronouns, because these pronouns do not correspond to any specific gender
Transgender describes people that people have a gender identity or gender expression that differs from their sex assigned at birth. The opposite of transgender is cisgender, which describes people whose gender identity or expression matches their assigned sex. Transgender people can identify as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual or asexual.
Intersex people are individuals born with a combination of male and female biological traits. They often do not fit the typical binary notions of male or female bodies, intersex traits are visible at birth, while in others, they are not apparent until puberty.
The binary construct of our heterosexual society conditions us to believe that being attracted to women is a ‘masculine’ trait, and vice versa. However, the way a person identifies their own gender is not linked to what gender they are attracted to. “Sexuality is who you go to bed with, and gender identity is who you go to bed as” – Caitlyn Jenner.
It is widely believed that once you identify as a particular gender, that gender identity is fixed throughout your life. There are people who decide to show up in the world male one day, female another day, and on other days neither or both. Being fluid or non-binary gender is an identity in itself, and doesn’t have anything to do with if a person fits traditional gender stereotypes.
LGBTQ is an identity, not a lifestyle, or phase that a person outgrows. Also, identity does not result from being physically or sexually abused as a child. Many people still view individuals in the LGBTQ community as people with an abnormality or mental illness. Attempts to ‘fix’ or ‘cure’ a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity is unethical and can lead to lifetime damage.