Gender expression vs gender identity

Added: Shadae Callison - Date: 21.09.2021 18:29 - Views: 25415 - Clicks: 6933

Perhaps you can relate to situations like these:. One of my students wants to be referred to as a boy. My 7-year-old is tired of students constantly questioning why he plays with dolls. At the heart of these scenarios lies confusion about the nature of gender, sex and sexual orientation. Imagine being one of the nameless students represented in studies that document the disproportionate risks for assault, rejection and self-harm in schools that are not accepting of fluid gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation.

A ificant barrier to creating fully inclusive schools is the presumption that sex, gender and sexual orientation fit neatly into a binary model. This binary world is populated by boys and girls who are viewed as polar opposites. This world conflates biology, gender expression, gender identity and sexual orientation, relegating people to rigid : male or female, gay or straight. Schools have a history of reinforcing binary perceptions of sex and gender. Even before children enter most schools for the first time, parents or guardians are asked to check male or female boxes on registration forms.

On the first day of school, teachers might shepherd students to class in boy and girl lines. Restrooms are deated for boys and girls. Everywhere there are expectations about what kind of imaginative play and dress-up is appropriate for whom, about who is naturally rambunctious and who is predestined to quiet studying. For most people, the anatomical indicators of sex line up in a way that is typically understood as male or female. However, intersex conditions also occur naturally in all species, including humans.

In the past three decades, more than 25 genes have been identified that were once believed to be associated solely with male or female biology, but in fact exhibit more complex, nonbinary variations. With the advent of new scientific knowledge, it is increasingly evident that biological sex does not fit a binary model.

Intersex conditions are increasingly being recognized as naturally occurring variations of human physiology. In , the United Nations condemned the use of this unnecessary surgery on infants, putting it in the same category as involuntary sterilization, unethical experimentation or reparative therapy when enforced or administered without the free and informed consent of the person receiving the surgery. This is separate from biological sex.

Some children become aware at a very young age that their gender identity does not align with their physical sex characteristics, even expressing the disconnect as soon as they can talk. Other transgender and gender-expansive people recognize their gender identity during adolescence or adulthood. People whose gender identity and biological sex align are called cisgender. Cisgender is an important word because it names the dominant experience rather than simply seeing it as the default.

The calabai and calalai of Indonesia, the two-spirit Native Americans found in some First Nation cultures, and the hijra of India all represent more complex understandings of gender than a binary gender model allows. At least seven countries—including Australia, Bangladesh, Germany, India, Nepal, New Zealand and Pakistan—recognize a third gender for legal documents.

As people around the world use a growing variety of terms to communicate their gender identities, Facebook now offers its users 52 options with which to define their gender. Studies show that children of any age are able to understand that there are more than two gender when the concept is explained to them in a simple, age-appropriate manner. The same is true of diversity related to biological sex and sexual orientation. Wondering how YOU might answer questions that parents and colleagues might have?

Gender expression can be defined as the way we show our gender to the world around us. Societal expectations of gender expression are reinforced in almost every area of life. Girls whose gender expression is seen as somewhat masculine are often considered tomboys. Depending on the context and the degree to which they transgress norms, tomboys might be seen positively, neutrally or negatively.

Positive or neutral labels are harder to come by for boys whose sex and gender expression are seen as incongruent. Common words used to describe such boys tend to be delivered with negative—sometimes hateful—intentions, words like sissy and faggot. There also is little room for boys to expand their gender expression. Just wearing a scarf or walking in a stereotypically feminine way can lead to abuse from peers, educators or family members.

Bias related to race, economic status, religion and other identities also influences responses to young people who break out of gender constraints. School-discipline data provide a disturbing example of this, as seen in the report Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced and Underprotected. The report reveals that African-American girls who act in ways considered stereotypically masculine are far more likely to be disciplined by their teachers than white girls who exhibit similar behaviors. Like gender identity, sexual orientation is internally held knowledge.

In multiple studies, LGBT youth reported being aware of their sexual orientation during elementary school, but waited to disclose their orientation to others until middle or high school. Students might identify as bisexual, pansexual, queer, asexual or use a host of other words that reflect their capacity to be attracted to more than one sex or gender or not to feel sexual attraction at all. The overlap and conflation of gender identity and sexual orientation can be confusing for individuals trying to make sense of their own identities as well as for those who are clear about their identities.

It can also be complicated for anyone seeking to support them. In her book Gender Born, Gender Made , psychologist Diane Ehrensaft describes a teenage client who, over the course of a few weeks, identified in seemingly contradicting ways, including as androgynous, as a gay boy and—eventually—as a heterosexual transgender female.

This young person was involved in a dynamic process that illustrated both the way sexual orientation and gender identity are intertwined and how they are separate. As we have seen, binary notions of gender, biology and sexual orientation exclude large swaths of human diversity. This diversity can be better understood by using spectrum-based models. A spectrum model not only makes room for people who are gender-expansive but for those who are perceived to be more typical as well.

A spectrum provides an avenue to a deeper understanding of the separate yet interrelated concepts of biological sex, gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation. For educators, this understanding is a critical first step toward changing school-based practices and toward being advocates for all students—regardless of where they fit on any spectrum.

Our work has evolved in the last 30 years, from reducing prejudice to tackling systemic injustice. Knowing the difference can make all the difference to students who do not conform to binary norms. Joel Baum. Issue 50, Summer Illustration by Mark McGinnis. Perhaps you can relate to situations like these: One of my students wants to be referred to as a boy.

A Binary System A ificant barrier to creating fully inclusive schools is the presumption that sex, gender and sexual orientation fit neatly into a binary model. Gender Expression Gender expression can be defined as the way we show our gender to the world around us. Embracing a Spectrum Model As we have seen, binary notions of gender, biology and sexual orientation exclude large swaths of human diversity. Put this story into action! View Toolkit. Download and print this poster on 11x17 paper and hang it in your classroom or teacher's lounge.

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Gender expression vs gender identity

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