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.
This brings us into our next segment; pronouns! Yes, this is a polarizing topic for some people for whatever reason. But let’s start with the basics. A pronoun is a word that replaces a noun in a sentence. Pronouns are used to avoid repeating the same nouns (typically names) over and over again.
For example, if someone is speaking about me they might say, “Eli is a thirsty bitch, can you hand her this glass of water?” This would be correct because my pronouns are she/her.
For many people, the way in which they’re referred to is important for whatever they identify as. If someone is non binary, they will typically go by they/them/their, as to not assign gender through the usage of pronouns. If someone is female, they use she/her, and if someone is male, they’ll use he/him.
I’ve seen a lot of people struggle with the change in how important pronouns have become to us as a generation, but how about instead of complaining about how “annoying” it is that you have to ask people what their pronouns are, you stop and think about how discouraging and unseen nonbinary or transgender folk might feel when you misgender them through the usage of incorrect pronouns? Just some food for thought.
Be kind and have patience with people, we’re all learning and growing together. Peace and love baby, peace and love.