BASIC DICTIONARY

Posted on February 8, 2019
Written by

New Year is a good moment to start anew and at the very beginning, so I thought it’d be good to clear up some basics about such complex issues as sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation.
  First of all, they are separate, unrelated and completely different things.  Of course, one’s feelings is far more complex than it can be described in a short article, and the following sentences should only serve as an approximation of the topic.

One’s biological SEX depends on the combination of their chromosomes, genitals, gonads and sex hormones.  The binary nature of fertilization caused many cultures to believe that there are two sexes (males and females), but in reality, there are many ones in between (including intersex), depending on the particular combination of the abovementioned factors.

GENDER IDENTITY

Is one’s perception of their gender.  In the usual gender binary division, there’s masculinity and femininity.  They’re supposedly at the same time opposite and complementary to each other.  The more we dwell upon the subject though, the more nuanced it becomes.  The formerly dualistic and straightforward view reveals a whole spectrum of varieties.  People don’t fully fall into one of the two categories, as their biological sex, gender identity, and gender expression can be connected in many different ways.  If one’s gender identity matches their assigned sex, such person is called cisgender.  If one’s gender identity differs from their assigned sex, that probably means that such person is transgender and most likely suffers from a distress called gender dysphoria. Such people often (but not always) pursue hormone replacement therapy (HRT), a variety of medical procedures that enable them to transform their bodies to that of the gender they identify with (SRS – sex reassignment surgery) and overall changes in one’s social life.  The whole process is called, respectively, a medical and social transition.

Moreover, besides usual female and male sexes, people can identify as genderqueer (non-binary), which means their gender expression and identity differ from the usual gender binary one.  They can identify as both masculine and feminine, somewhere between, neither (agender) or have a fluctuating gender identity (genderfluid).

SEXUAL ORIENTATION

Deals with romantic or sexual feelings towards other people. With the usual gender binary division, there’s heterosexuality (attraction to the opposite sex), homosexuality (attraction to the same sex), bisexuality (attraction to both the opposite and the same sexes) and asexuality (lack of sexual attraction).  There is also a ROMANTIC ORIENTATION that can be different from the sexual one.

Heteroromantic – romantic feelings towards the opposite gender.
Homoromantic – romantic feelings towards the same gender (so a heterosexual and homoromantic woman is in general sexually attracted to men and romantically attracted to women).

Nextly, we have:

Biromantic – romantic feelings towards two or more genders.
Panromantic – romantic feelings towards particular people, regardless of their gender.
Aromantic – lack of romantic attraction in general.

Furthermore, besides obvious sex/gender-determined orientations, there’s a whole spectrum of different ones that depend on the gender identity of involved people. So it goes:

Bi-curious is a term for heterosexual or homosexual people who, while being attracted to one gender, express some curiosity towards the other one and at the same time don’t consider themselves bisexual.
Gray asexuality is a spectrum between asexuality and sexuality, which in general means that one may sometimes experience sexual attracton.
Pansexuality – sexual attraction towards particular people, regardless of their sex or gender identity.
Polysexuality is a sexual attraction towards multiple genders (but not all).
Queer is a broad term for various sex and gender minorities who are not cisgender or heterosexual.
Non-heterosexuality is a broad term for orientations that differs from heterosexuality.

Of course, there’s also an attraction to transgender people, which will be the topic of our next article.

About the author

Polish translator and editor, hopeless romantic and daydreamer. She likes to gaze at old maps and then write some otherwordly stories.