In our last piece, I touched on pansexuality in a very introductory way. Now let’s discuss different types of gender identity—because gender is a key concept that also informs and impacts how people experience their sexuality and attractions to other people. First, some terms:
Agender: not having a particular gender at all,
Genderfluid: moving around the spectrum between "masculine" and "feminine" expressions of their gender. People may dress or present differently on a daily basis, or move through periods of expression lasting weeks, months, or even years.
Binary genders: the two genders that are recognized by our culture as "female" and "male" and our society expects these genders to perform in "feminine" and "masculine" ways
Trans gender: this means that you identify as a gender other than the one you were assigned at birth based on your genitals
Cis gender: this means that you identify as the gender you were assigned at birth based on your genitals
Intersex: a general term to describe the various situations in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male. This is related to gender because intersex people may present in any manner of gender.
Dana Zzyym is one such person. and I once had the honor of them watching speak; Dana was born with ambiguous genitals and underwent multiple nonconsensual surgeries as a child. At birth, the doctors saw a baby with genitals that didn’t look quite like a penis, so they tried to make one out of the tissue. Unfortunately, these procedures lent to painful complications, and Dana is only one example as to why genital assignment surgery should not be done to people who can’t make the decision for their self. Nowadays Dana is an advocate for intersex people’s rights. When asked if genital assignment surgery is ethical, Dana answered, "if the patient has given informed consent".
Gender does not always relate to genitals, but it’s been suggested that people could stop throwing gender-reveal parties, because the absence or presence of a penis or vulva certainly doesn’t guarantee the gender of person that the baby will grow into.
And contrary to what some right-wing radicals will lead you to believe, people outside the gender binary have existed in many previous cultures, and are documented in art, history, and literature around the world.
Lastly, it’s important to remember that some people might express their gender in any of these ways AND be asexual, meaning that they don’t have interest in partnered sex or contact at all. (Some asexual folks do report to me as having pleasant nocturnal emissions though.)
For more information, I recommend genderspectrum.org.
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