Sex, Gender & Sexuality 2019-10-10T11:14:45+00:00

Sex, Gender & Sexuality

Sex, gender and sexuality are three different concepts that can often confuse people, and people sometimes mix them up. In this section, we will explore what each term means…

Sex

Firstly, your ‘sex’ has nothing to do with having sex. Your sex is the word used to describe your biological make-up.

Basically, this means if you have female organs (such as a vagina, uterus and ovaries) or male organs (such as a penis and testicles) you may be classed as either a male or a female. But wait, there’s more! Your sex is also determined by the hormones and chromosomes you have in your body. So, a combination of organs, hormones and chromosomes generally determine if you are male or female. Simple, right?

Well, not so simple, really. Some people do not completely fit with the typical make-up of a male or female. This is described as being ‘intersex’. For instance, they may have the internal organs of a female (ovaries, Fallopian tubes, uterus), but may have organs outside the body which appear to be male (penis, scrotum). Or, it can be the other way around (internal male organs, external organs appearing to be female). Other intersex people may have incompletely formed sexual organs, or perfectly formed organs, but an imbalance in their sex hormones and problems with sexual development.

It used to be recommended that intersex children have surgery as quickly as possible to ‘decide’ whether they would be male or female for the rest of their lives. Nowadays, it is more common to wait until the child is old enough to make the decision for themselves about whether or not to have surgery.

Gender

Gender is considered to be completely different from sex.

It is a little more complicated to understand, as it is not determined by biological characteristics, like sex. Gender is the range of characteristics between what we know to be ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’. For example, you might have heard of someone being called a ‘girly girl’ because she likes the colour pink, shopping and getting pampered. You also might have heard of a boy being described as ‘manly’ because he plays sports or is into cars and DIY.

However, gender is not that simple, and it does not define a person. People cannot be separated into two genders. Gender is simply an idea which is decided by society – much like the colour pink is associated with girls, and blue with boys.

But why shouldn’t a girl be brilliant at football and wear clothes from the ‘men’s’ section?

And why should a boy not enjoy chick flicks and have a flair for fashion?

Gender fluid

Regardless of your biological sex (male or female or intersex), you are free to live your life the way you want to. This includes your choice of clothes, your appearance, your hobbies, your career choices, your friends and everything else that is part of who you are. You do not have to act in a way that society expects a boy or girl to act. Many people now call themselves ‘gender fluid’. This means they can identify with being a mixture of feminine and masculine, and the extent to which they identify as masculine or feminine can vary over time.

Transgender

A transgender person may feel that they were born in the wrong body. They may feel that their sense of personal identity and gender does not match their biological sex as assigned at birth. For instance, they may be physically male, but feel that they are a woman on the inside and should be in a woman’s body. Gender can be very difficult to pin down and understand, and there are still many arguments and debates happening around the definition and meaning of gender. The most important thing is that you feel comfortable in yourself and can live your life in a way that makes you happy, regardless of your biological sex or sense of gender.

Need more to understand gender? Check out this video…

Sexuality

Sexuality can also be a teeeensy bit confusing!

Sexuality is all about sexual feelings and attractions that we experience, not just who we have sex with. Everyone’s sexuality is unique, and it’s not simply ‘gay’ or ‘straight’.

Some people are only attracted to one sex and some are attracted to all different kinds of people, regardless of sex or gender. It can be confusing, especially during puberty. Many people don’t have a clear idea of who they are sexually attracted to until they are a little older, and even then, it can change and that’s totally normal.

Hetero or Straight

Heterosexual or ‘straight’ people are usually attracted to people of the opposite sex.

Homosexual or Gay

Homosexual people are usually attracted to those of the same sex. ‘Gay’ is a term used for homosexual males and females. ‘Lesbian’ is a term some people use for homosexual women.

Bisexual

Bisexual people are attracted to both females and males.

Pansexual

Pansexual people are attracted to people of any sex or gender.

Asexual

Asexual people do not experience sexual attraction to anyone.

The good news is you don’t ever have to ‘fit’ into any of the above ‘labels’.

It is now widely believed that sexuality exists on a spectrum – meaning that many people are between ‘gay’ and ‘straight’. People can often move along this spectrum, and find themselves at different points as they go through their lives.

If you need more information or support around your sexuality, shOUT are an excellent resource, visit their website here, and BeLonG To offer 24/7 anonymous text support among other services, text LGBTI+ to 086 1800 280 to begin, or visit their website here.

As long as the person you are attracted to respects & appreciates you, happy days!

Still have more questions? We’d love to hear from you!

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