Be Yourself: Untangling Gender and Sex

Gender identity and sexual orientation are two different but related things. The media sometimes confuses them and it makes it hard for high school and college students to really understand it. Everyone has their own preference of who they like and how they see themselves.

Let’s clear it up a bit as to what is what.

Gender Identity

It is about you. It is about how you see yourself. Do you think you are male, female, both, neither, or sometimes one or the other? Are you being okay being called he, she, or they, or ze? There are more than the ones listed here, but the ones that have been in the media lately have been a­gender, genderqueer, transgender, pan­gender, and gender fluid.

There is no wrong answer. There is no permanent answer. You are allowed to change your view of yourself according to how comfortable you are with it. If you do not feel comfortable being defined or you are unsure, that is okay too.

Sexual Orientation

It is about who you like. Do you like men, women, both, neither, or one or the other just sometimes? What do you like in someone? What characteristics do you find attractive in someone? The ones that have been in the media have been the lesbian, gay, and bisexual. There is also asexual and pansexual and heterosexual and demisexual. There are more than these here and they can be similar. You aren’t defined by your sexual orientation and you aren’t defined by your gender identity, either. These are just things that help you better understand yourself and it is up to you whether or not it is useful.

Sometimes gender identity affects sexual orientation, and sometimes it is the other way around. Everybody has their own understanding of who they are and how they came to be that way. Maybe you are pangender and pansexual. Maybe you identify as gender neutral and asexual. There are many ways a person can love and many ways people can see themselves. Both are decided by you and only you. Both can change.

My experience with these topics has gone from heterosexual to bisexual to demisexual. I’ve also come to feel comfortable with being gender fluid, but I have no problem being called she. It was kind of confusing, but I was surrounded by understanding and patient people and that made it easier. If you’re in a place that isn’t very open about this type of thing, that’s okay. There will always be people who are willing to listen, understand, and help in the future, if not now. As you grow and understand the world and meet new people and learn about yourself, you will find that your perspective may change, too.

Resources is a place with advice and resources on sexual orientation, gender identity, and pretty much life itself. I’ve been following them on Tumblr for years and I have found the two co-owners to be open-minded, positive, and funny. They understand the difficulty of family pressure, the confusion and insecurity of being alone, and the joys of being supported and supportive of others in the community. They’re easy to access from various media platforms and you can spend hours scrolling through relatable content.

Embrace the change and don’t let anyone tell you any different. Just be you!


One comment

  • Nice article! I’ve always felt sexual orientation is a spectrum, and that it’s so rare for someone to be “completely straight” or “completely gay.” I think people fall in different places on the spectrum, and, like you said, it can always change. I wish societal norms and expectations were less rigid and more representative of how humans actually are.

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