This last week, the Wednesday decal section talked about the difference between sexual orientation, biological sex and gender identity!

These three terms are generally misunderstood and used interchangeably, but they are, in fact, drastically different. Here’s how:

Sexual orientation has to do with who a person is attracted [or not attracted] to whether that be physically or romantically. Some terms describing sexual orientation are homosexual, pansexual, bisexual and asexual.

Biological sex is exactly what it sounds like. It is the anatomical sex that you are born with. This could be male, female, or intersex!

Gender identity is the gender that you feel mentally or emotionally connected with. For example, gender identity could be man, woman, genderqueer and a ton of others!

This may seem confusing at first, but it makes everything so much easier once you can more easily distinguish between these distinct terms and their meanings. It is also very important that these can be interdependent or completely independent, and it is important to respect somebody’s choice as to what they may identify as.

Each of these separate ideas exists on a spectrum. There are an infinite number of sexual orientations a person could identify as. And these could be romantic attractions, or physical attractions, and these romantic versus physical attractions may not even depend on each other! Getting confusing again? Well here’s an example: a person could be sexually attracted to both males and females (bisexual) and then be only romantically attracted to one or the other.

All of these are just dependent on somebody’s preferences. Each person has something different that makes them tick. Somebody might be attracted towards all gender identities, while somebody else might be attracted to certain levels of intelligence. There is often controversy over what should be considered a true orientation or not, but in reality there is not enough labels for everybody’s tastes and it is not acceptable to invalidate somebody else’s taste simply because it may not make sense to somebody else.

Sometimes it can be fun to learn about new gender identities and sexual orientations!

Taking myself as an example, I thought for the longest time that I was bisexual. It was only after I began researching and reading about more sexual orientations that I was instead somewhere between bisexual and pansexual, rather than one or the other. And this is completely okay! There may not yet be a term to describe how one might feel, but that doesn’t mean that that feeling or interest isn’t real.

-Jamee

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