Gender identity and sexual orientation have been topics of discussion since time immemorial. Debates have taken place about whether you have the right to choose your gender identity and sexual orientation. Before delving into the topic, knowing about gender identity and sexual orientation and their impact on the various strata of society is a matter of concern.
Defining gender identity and sexual orientation
You can define gender identity as your conception of yourself as male or female. You might even choose to conceptualise yourself as both or neither (rare). Gender identity is your personal feeling about your inner self. It is the identity that you want to give to yourself. You can express your gender identity through your clothing, personal appearance or behaviour. Society has always set stereotypes based on your gender. They have set norms for males and females, and according to society’s fixed standards, expect that you will act. But gender identity cannot be fixed by these standards because it is what you feel about yourself.
Sexual orientation is different from sexual identity. To whom you want to be romantically involved or feel attracted is sexual orientation. Sexual orientations can be straight, asexual, bisexual, lesbian or gay.
How do people know their gender identity and sexual orientation?
People get to know about gender identity and sexual orientation from how they feel from a very early age. Sexual orientations might form by biological factors even before your birth. Therapy or persuasion cannot change gender identity and sexual orientations.
If you are attracted to the opposite gender, your sexual orientation is heterosexual. If you are attracted to the same gender, your sexual orientation is homosexual. You might prefer to call yourself gay or lesbian. If you are attracted to people of both genders, like men and women, your sexual orientation is bisexual. If you are attracted to people of all gender identities like male, female, genderqueer or even transgender, your sexual orientation is pansexual or queer. If you are unsure about your sexual orientation, you might call yourself curious or questioning. If you don’t feel sexual attraction for any gender, you are asexual.
What is the difference between sexual orientation and romantic orientation?
The difference between sexual orientation and romantic orientation is difficult to understand. Your preference for the person you want to get sexually attracted to is sexual orientation. Romantic orientation is your preference for the person you want to get romantically involved it.
Romantic orientations can be of various types:
- · Aromantics do not experience any romantic inclination towards any gender.
- · Biromantics experience romantic inclination towards both males and females.
- · Heteroromantics experience romantic inclination towards the opposite gender.
- · Homoromantic experience romantic inclination towards the same gender.
- · Polyromantics feel romantically inclined towards more than one person.
- · Demoromantics feel romantically inclined only after establishing a close bond with their partners.
You might be asexual but still have romantic desires. You might also be an aromantic but still, have sexual desires. Queerplatonic relationships do not involve romance, while squish is a relationship where partners do not desire sexual bonding.
What is the difference between gender identity and sex?
The difference between gender identity and sex is a delicate topic of discussion. WHO has clearly distinguished between gender identity and sex, social scientists, biologists, legal systems, behavioural scientists, government bodies and many organisations like it.
The doctor mentioned sex at the time of the birth, according to the genitals present on the birth certificate. Most people are males or females. If your reproductive anatomy does not fall within the male or female category, you will be intersex.
The sex assigned at the time of birth might not match your feelings. Maybe you are male, but you feel like a female. Some of you might feel like you are neither male nor female. If your sex identity does not match your assigned sex, you will be transgender or trans.
How do people express their gender identity and sexual orientation?
When your gender identity does not align with your assigned sex, you tend to express yourself outwardly. People say their gender identity and sexual orientation to put forward their desires. Gender expression is how you portray your gender identity. The term can be in the form of your clothing, hairstyle, makeup or even the choice of names and pronouns.
There have been several debates, discussions, and controversies regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual and t, and transgender (L.G.B.T.) people. The people of the L.G.B.T. community had to wage a long war to get included in society. They had been subjected to various forms of stigma, discrimination and even social exclusion, even excluded from family and social gatherings. Homosexuality and bisexuality were even termed as mental disorders that required treatment. In 2018, the Union of India declared that an adult had the right to marry any person of their choice.
Since time immemorial, discrimination has happened against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (L.G.B.T.) community. Society labels them as mentally ill people. There was a time when expressing your sexual identity apart from the expected norms was considered a crime. But now, society has become more inclusive. Gay and lesbian marriages have been legalised, and most of you embrace the L.G.B.T. community with open arms. They are no more excluded from society at large.
Your gender identity and sexual orientation are matters that only you have the right to choose. No one has the right to choose your gender identity or sexuality for you. It is beautiful if you do not want to be labelled. The social stigma and conflicts regarding gender identity can be daunting and anxiety-inducing. If you feel alone and helpless in the quest for your gender identity and sexual orientation, you can find online therapy and mental health counselling services at www.unitedwecare.com.