gender identity: the overview
In our ever-changing society, people may have noticed lately that a very big stories currently in the media involve ‘transgenders’ – this is particularly in reference to the current problem in America for transgenders and non-binaries involving gendered bathroom. But maybe you’re one of these people sitting here thinking: “What actually are these identities? What on Earth is a non-binary? Does this mean there’s more than male or female? Could I be one of these types of people?” In this article, I will be discussing the genders you’ll most likely come across in the LGBTQ+ community, the idea of different pronouns and how to recognize if you might be somewhere on the spectrum.
To understand the concept, you need to learn the difference between ‘sex’ and ‘gender’. They may be the same or similar terms to you but they are actually very different. Your sex is what your genitals are – male, female or intersex. Your gender is how you identify inside and like to be perceived as by society. Most commonly people are cisgender – this is where you identify as the gender you were assigned with at birth. On the other end of the scale are transgenders / transsexuals – these are people who identify as the opposite gender assigned at birth. For example, a ‘transman’ is someone assigned female at birth but identifies as a male. (Note that transgender is also an umbrella term!)
But there are more than just ‘male’ and ‘female’ on the spectrum! There are a large range of different gender identities too, usually defined as ‘non-binaries’ – those whose gender does not conform to the gender binary of simply ‘male’ and ‘female’. The different types of genders you may come across include, but not limited to:
Agender: To be genderless, lacking gender, or having no gender at all.
Bigender: Identifying as two genders, either simultaneously or changing between the two. This can be male and female, or it can include other non-binary identities.
Demigender: Identifying partially, but not wholly, as a gender. Examples of demigender idenitites include demiboy and demigirl.
Genderfluid: A gender identity that varies overtime, resulting in being unable to exactly define it. It can change at any time to any gender.
Genderqueer: Typically an umbrella term with a similar meaning to non-binary.
Polygender: Identifying as several different genders, similarly to bigender.
Another key feature of gender identies are gender pronouns. Pronouns are words that are used to refer to someone that implies their gender. The most common ones used are she/her (“She stood up”) and he/him (“He walked away”). However, there are some gender neutral pronouns that are used such as they/them (“They smiled at me”). There are also ‘non-traditional’ pronouns such as xe/xem (“Xe waved at us”) and ze/zir (“Ze nodded happily”). Some people also prefer not using pronouns and preferring their name used instead (“John left and John forgot his bag”). Note that some people who are non-binary may still prefer using gendered pronouns.
Those who also are transgender or non-binary often go through a name change to feel more comfortable. This could be a change of name to the opposite gender, whether it’s a different variation (such as a Michael changing to a Michela) or a different name entirely (such as an Emma changing into a Liam). Some people may also prefer to choose a unisex name (such as a James changing to a Cody).
It’s hard to figure out if you might identify as any of these genders, and it’s okay if you end up questioning for a long time – it’s took me just about a year to figure out a label I felt good with because my gender kept changing so much, and much longer to ponder whether I should end up with gender neutral pronouns – even still my gender still puzzles me and I’m debating on having a gender-neutral name.
All in all, that’s pretty much gender summed up as best I can! I may have missed out some things but this is the extent of my knowledge without diving too deep. Don’t be afraid if you identify as any of these genders – you’re still valid, whatever you identify as! And feel free to reply to the article with anything else you think should be included, or if you have any questions.
Hi I am 21 in 5 days. I realized that I identify as gender non conforming last year. I have always felt that I am both a woman and a man. No matter how many times I got bullied about feeling that way growing up and no matter how many times people would tell me that it’s “weird” or “stupid” to feel that way. No matter how many times people told me to be lady like or dress like a lady I could never shake those feelings or feel like just a lady, girl, or woman. I feel like both. I am both masculine and feminine. I am gender non conforming. I do not identify as a woman or a man because I am both. My biological gender the gender I was born with may say that I am a woman but the way I want to present myself to the world and the way I want the world to see me as is different. I am different and that’s what I want the world to see. I want people to listen to me. I don’t want to keep these feelings hidden anymore or be fake. I don’t want to be addressed by what is only half of who I am! My pronouns are they/their and I don’t like being referred to as a woman or any gender related term. I always felt broken inside and never understood what the reason was until I learned this identity last year and realized who I really am and that I shouldn’t hide it anymore. There are other people like me, there is an identity that explains why I feel the way I do. I am valid! I deserve a voice and I am finally happier than I have ever been. I am trying to let myself be free to be who I am. It has been hard for me to come out to my parents though. They don’t understand the pronouns part and the parent I did come out to seems to refuse to even try to change the way she addresses me. I mean I understand and I am not going to force her or anybody to change the way they address me but at the same time I would just really appreciate it if they would try and if they would listen to how I feel. My feelings are important and it has taken me a long time to realize that and stand up for my feelings. I am so happy that there is an article here that explains the difference between gender and sex and I hope that there are a lot of people that read it. Thank you so much to the author!
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The articles here are written by guest writers or previous TWE members.