Sex and Gender
Growing up and living in a hetero-centric society, many people, especially those who identify as heterosexual (straight) and whose gender matches their born sex, never spend any time questioning or pondering their sexual orientation or their gender. It can be challenging to imagine other experiences if we cannot relate to them.
As always when perusing my blog, I wish for my readers to step back from their own experiences and think about what the alternatives are. This does not mean that you need to completely do a “180″ and change your entire world view or lifestyle, but it’s a great exercise in broadening your horizons.
[As I've done before, I will reference my own personal experiences a bit.]
As you all know by now, I’ve grown up and lived in West Hollywood my whole life. It’s one of the THE meccas of the Gay world. As an extension of that, I was exposed to Trans people and drag queens from a very early age. Not much can phase me any more. But since I embarked on my journey in the field of human sexuality over three years ago, I’ve had the opportunity several times to be exposed to many people and lectures which would fall under the umbrella term of “Transgender.”
Within the past nine months I have had two lectures on the topic; the first by the amazing Dr. Reece Malone a graduate of the Institute that I attend; and just a few weeks ago by Dr. Jody Schmidt who also graduated from IASHS. And another much more informal (which is saying something at the Institute) panel with a trans FtM individual. With each exposure I have had to a person who is trans, I am not only fascinated, but also so inspired and so touched when I hear that a person was finally able to fully embody and identify as the gender and/or body that they feel more accurately matches who they are.
You have no idea how important it is for a person who is transitioning to be addressed by their affirmed pronouns (he/she/they).
As a cisgender female, I have not spent much time debating whether I’m in the right body. My debates on my own body more have to do with body image issues and weight, not whether I have the right parts. There is no way for me to actually know what it’s like to be constantly conflicted about the body I was born with.
So, just to back track, because I have been all over the place here. Here are some definitions in case you are a little confused about terminology.
Sex: has to do with the reproductive organs one was born with. Male or female.
Gender: how one expresses themselves. Masculine or feminine.
Sexual orientation: the sexual and/or the emotional attraction to another person.
Sexual identity: the expression and self-perception of one’s sexual orientation.
Cisgender: people who identify as the sex and gender they were born as.
Transexual: having the irresistible urge to live as the oppose gender/sex.
Intersex: sex organs that don’t conform to strict definitions of male or female.
Drag Kings/Queens: dressing as the opposite sex for entertainment purposes.
Transvestite: dressing as the opposite gender. (Cross-dressing)
Transgender: the umbrella term for any expression/desire to be or appear as the opposite gender.
I have no way of knowing what my readers’ experiences are when it comes to this topic. I can only hope that by reading this, you can expand your knowledge and sex positivity that much more by reading this and challenging yourself to question and wonder what it’s like for a person who just doesn’t feel at home in the skin they were born in.
Think about it! Whether you are a born male or female, do you take it for granted that you are your assigned gender? What would it be like to be in the opposite gender’s role, clothing, or mind set? If we can all imagine what it’s like in another’s shoes, we can be one tiny step closer to both accepting others and ourselves.