Youth Voice: Sex, Gender, and Identity 101

Erin is a student and Peer Educator volunteering with CHATpdx.

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In this world, there is a misconception by major groups of people that believe that sex and gender are the same exact thing. This is incorrect. By reading the basics of Sex, Gender, and Sexual Identity.

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For starters, what is sex? Sex is based on the biological characteristics used to label people as male or female such as  X and Y chromosomes,  internal and external sex organs, hormonal levels and things like hair growth and breast development. Most people think that there is only male and female, but that isn’t true. Some people can be born intersex, which is a general term used for a variety of conditions where a person is born with biological characteristics (such as hormones, chromosomes, reproductive or sexual anatomy) that don’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male.


And Gender? Your gender identity is how you identify and present yourself, for example as a boy or man, or as a girl or woman, or gender neutral. Your gender can be what ever, even if it isn’t the same as your biological sex, which is called transgender . People express their gender in many ways, expressing your gender is a spectrum of feminine to masculine. Things such as race, culture, age, ability and even your personality can influence the way someone precises their own gender.

Sexual Identity

Sexual identity is based on feelings,attractions and desires. There is a great spectrum of sexuality, and there is a difference between sexual identity and sexual behavior, for example, someone could be straight but still hookup with someone of the same gender. An example of sexual identity is asexual, having no sexual attraction to anyone.

Finally, we come to pronouns. A pronoun is how someone expresses their gender. A woman may prefer feminine pronouns (her,she), just like a gender neutral person prefers pronouns that don’t disclose male/female, such as (they,them,per,perself). And,also, you should always use gender neutral pronouns, so you don’t mistakes someones gender, which can cause mental health issues.

So, in conclusion, I hope that this has expanded your knowledge.


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