Your guide to further educating yourself about the LGBTQ+ community and becoming an ally.
First, let’s break down what the famous acronym stands for: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer.
Gender vs. Sex
The idea that these two things are the same thing, or are to be used interchangeably is dated and wrong. In short, sex is what you’re assigned at birth. Whatever reproductive organs you’re born with is what your sex is. If you’re born with testes, you’re male, if you’re born with ovaries, you’re female. Penis and vagina. This is what goes on your birth certificate.
Gender is a little bit more complex. I say this because it has to do with the societal expectations and norms we force upon people based on their assigned sex, male or female. Each culture has its way of thinking people should behave based on their gender, but gender isn’t so much about body parts as it is about how you’re expected to act, because of your sex. In simpler terms, gender is what you believe you identify as.
Gender identity vs. Gender expression
That brings us into the difference between identity and expression. Again, gender identity is how you feel inside and what you believe yourself to be. Gender expression is pretty much what it sounds like.. clothing, appearance and behavior are all ways in which a person can express gender.
Identity and expression can differ because you can feel one way, but your outward appearance may not “match” how you identify. An example of this in pop culture might be Harry Styles. He identifies as a man, but often dresses in what we would consider traditional women’s clothing, paints his nails and loves to wear pearl necklaces. Like his vogue cover, he wore a huge, poofy dress (and killed it, I might add). On the other end, your gender identity and expression might be one in the same, in the sense that they align and match up to the societal standards we expect.
Today, the barriers of fashion are being broken and the lines between what’s considered masculine and feminine are getting blurred and I’m fucking here for it.
Binary vs. Non Binary
Some people don’t fit neatly into the boxes of man or woman. The prefix Bi means two, or having two parts, so gender binary refers to the idea that there are two genders: male and female. And in societies like ours, we tend to only recognize those two as valid. Therefore, non binary is a term people use to describe themselves in genders that don’t fall into one of the two categories: male or female. There are a few other terms non binary people might use to describe themselves: genderqueer, a-gender, bigender, etc. None of those terms mean exactly the same thing, but they do all speak toward something that doesn’t fit into the rigid categories of male or female.