WhatisSexandGender? Sex is based upon the person’s biological features; ie- penis, vagina, or any sexual organ that defines a person as male or female. Gender is used to refer to people as feminine or masculine. It can also be used as what a person identifies as; ie- a man who believes they are actually a woman because that is the gender they identify with.
GenderTerms Transgender- refers to people whose gender identity and/or presentation do not fit traditional norms. Transsexual- a person who lives as the opposite gender. Changes that can be made are changing of pronouns, changing names, changing clothing, taking hormones, and having sex reassignment surgery. Either classified as female to male transsexual (FTM) or male to female transsexual (MTF). Genderqueer- someone who rejects gender norms or rejects the two-gender system.
Transgenderand Transsexual Defy conventional gender definitions. Identity is expressed through a variety of ways such as wearing men’s clothes if a “woman” or getting a very short haircut. These people may lead public or private lives as the opposite sex. Often these people are stigmatized because of the life they choose to live.
SexualOrientation While gender identity is who we are, sexual orientation is about who we find attractive. What gender we identify as helps us identify our sexuality. There are a wide variety of terms we use to identify sexual orientation.
Orientation Terms Heterosexual- refers to people who are attracted to the opposite sex. Also called straight. Homosexual- refers to people who are attracted to the same sex. Also called gay (male-male) or lesbian (female-female). Bisexual- refers to people who are attracted to both sexs. Asexual- someone who isn’t experiencing sexual attraction to either sex. Pansexual- someone who is attracted to people across the whole range of genders.
Coming Out Coming out is the process of accepting and confirming our sexual identity. It can be a very difficult thing for a gay person to tell their friends and family that they are not straight. This is a gradual process and cannot happen overnight. Those who come out find it not only challenging but as a self affirming and life changing experience.
Homophobia This is the fear and possible hatred of anyone who is homosexual or transgender or transsexual. The hatred of homophobia affects everyone and not use the homosexual because it hold such a strong and dark stigma. It can prevent people from developing relationships or acknowledging that they even existed. Homophobia keeps discrimination and prejudice alive.
Quote: There were two quotes that affected me in this chapter. “I am a freshman in college and still haven’t come out to my parents. A couple of years ago, my father asked me if I was a lesbian. With much hesitation, I answered, “No,” because I was scared. …He said, “Good, because I don’t want a fucking faggot for a kid.” This statement tore me apart and has delayed my decision to come out to my parents. Most everyone who knows me (including my siblings) knows my orientation. I am currently waiting to tell my parents, for fear that they will kick me out or stop paying for college.” “As a female-bodies genderqueer, I choose to use the womens’ restroom but often find myself dealing with unpleasant comments or looks and, on a few occasions, verbal or physical threats/assaults. As a result, I have avoided using public restrooms, as much as possible, for 17 years and have now developed urinary tract problems.”
Question forDiscussion What do you think can be done to increase the awareness of homophobia and what do you think we can do together to decrease it and it’s effects on the gay community?
Reference Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Our Bodies, Ourselves. 35th Anniversary Edition. Simon and Schuster: New York. 2005.