A recent report by the Human Rights Campaign, Growing Up LGBT in America, surveyed more than 10,000 LGBT-identified youth ages 13-17. It provides a stark picture of the difficulties they face.
Let’s start with the heart! This is where a person’s sexual orientation is defined. Sexual orientation refers to the gender(s) to which a person is attracted. Here are some important terms to know about sexual orientation.
Heterosexual (or straight) refers to a person who is sexually or romantically attracted to individuals of the opposite gender.
Lesbian refers to a woman who is sexually or romantically attracted to other women.
Gay refers to a man who is sexually or romantically attracted to other men. Gay can also be used for individuals whose sexual orientation is directed towards same sex partners.
Bisexual refers to a person who is sexually or romantically attracted to both men and women.
Pansexual refers to a person who is sexually or romantically attracted to others regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.
Asexual refers to a person with a lack of sexual or romantic attraction for anyone, or with low or absent interest in sexual activity.
Then, a person has their biological sex. Biological sex refers to the anatomy that defines us as male, female, or intersex. This includes not only the internal and external sex organs, but chromosomes and hormones as well. Some important terms to know about biological sex:
Gender expression is a person’s outward expression of their gender. An individual can fall on a scale of masculine, feminine, or androgynous. These are some important terms to know about gender expression.
Masculine is an expression of traits that are associated culturally with boys and men.
Feminine is an expression of traits that are associated culturally with girls and women.
Androgynous is a combination of both masculine and feminine traits.
The brain is the home to gender identity. Gender identity is a person’s private and subjective sense of being a man, woman, or somewhere in between. Some important terms to know about gender identity:
Cisgender refers to a person whose gender identity conforms with the gender that corresponds to their biological sex.
Genderqueer refers to a person whose gender identity does not strictly confirm to being either a man or a woman.
Transgender refers to a person whose gender identity does not correspond to their biological sex.
It is important to remember that gender identity, sexual orientation, biological sex and gender expression are all on a spectrum. While an individual may identify as one of the more recognized terms, they may also find themselves somewhere in between. These categories are also completely separate entities! No one has a direct effect on the others.
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