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Exploring the Gender Spectrum

What parents need to know about gender diversity

What parents need to know about gender diversity

According to GenderSpectrum.org, our gender begins with the assignment of our sex, it doesn’t end there. A person’s gender is the complex interrelationship between three dimensions: Body, Identity, and Expression.

1.    Body: Our body, our experience of our own body, how society genders bodies, and how others interact with us based on our body.

2.    Identity: Our deeply held, internal sense of self as male, female, a blend of both, or neither; who we internally know ourselves to be.

3.    Expression: How we present our gender in the world and how society, culture, community, and family perceive, interact with, and try to shape our gender.

READ MORE: Local teen shares her coming out story

Words You Should Know

  • Asexual: The lack of a sexual attraction or desire for other people.
  • Assigned Gender: The gender a baby is given upon birth usually based on the child’s birth sex.
  • Birth Sex/Biological Sex: A specific set of genetic, chemical and anatomical characteristics that we are either born with or that develop as we mature.
  • Bisexual: A person emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to more than one sex, gender or gender identity though not necessarily simultaneously, in the same way or to the same degree.
  • Gay: A person who is emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to members of the same gender.
  • Gender Expression/Presentation: How we show our gender to the world through external choices (e.g. dress, behavior, hairstyle).
  • Gender Identity: How we feel about our gender in our hearts and minds.
  •  Lesbian: A woman who is emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to other women.
  • Preferred Personal Pronouns: In addition to the traditional pronouns (he/him, she/her), some people prefer to use gender-neutral pronouns, such as ne, ve, ze/zie, and xe. If you don’t know someone’s preferred personal pronoun, it’s always best to ask.
  •  Queer: A term people often use to express fluid identities and orientations. Often used interchangeably with "LGBTQ."
  • Questioning: A term used to describe people who are in the process of exploring their sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Transgender: An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or expression is different from cultural expectations based on the sex they were assigned at birth. Being transgender does not imply any specific sexual orientation. Therefore, transgender people may identify as straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc.

READ MORE: Local LGBTQ+ resources

Breaking out of the Binary
Since gender is a spectrum, we need more terms to fill the spectrum between male and female. Here’s just a sampling of identity terms that fill the spectrum. For a more comprehensive list of terms, click here.

  • Agender: A person who does not identify themselves as having a particular gender.

  • Androgyne/Androgynous: A non-binary gender, which is simultaneously feminine and masculine, although not necessarily in equal amounts.

  • Bigender: A person experience exactly two gender identities, either simultaneously or varying between the two. These two gender identities could be male and female, but could also include non-binary identities.

  • Cisgender: A term used to describe a person whose gender identity aligns with those typically associated with the sex assigned to them at birth.

  • Gender-fluid: A person who does not identify with a single fixed gender.

  • Gender non-conforming: A broad term referring to people who do not behave in a way that conforms to the traditional expectations of their gender, or whose gender expression does not fit neatly into a category.

  • Genderqueer: A person who does not subscribe to conventional gender distinctions but identifies with neither, both, or a combination of male and female genders.

  • Gender Questioning: A person who is in the process of exploring their identity.

  • Gender Variant: A person whose gender identity or gender expression does not conform to socially defined male or female gender norms.

  • Intersex: A person who is born with ambiguous gender traits including chromosomes, sex hormones or genitals.

  • Neutrois: A non-binary gender that is often associated with a “neutral” or “null” gender.

  • Non-binary: Any gender identity which does not fit the male and female binary.

  • Pangender/Omnigender: A person with a multiplicity of genders.

  • Transgender: Describes anyone whose gender identity and birth sex do not align. The word should be used as, “transgender,” not “transgendered.”
Further Reading
In search of even more information on Gender Diversity? Check out the following organizations by clicking on their name below.

Planned Parenthood – PP offers general information on sexual orientation and gender as well as information and support for those thinking about coming out. PP also offers information for parents on how to support LGBTQ+ children.  

Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center – This local organization provides services, professional resources and programs that unite the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning community across lines of age, race, gender and economics. Their purpose is to strengthen, support and celebrate LGBTQ individuals, families and groups in their efforts to achieve their fullest potential.

GLAAD  For over 30 years, GLAAD has been at the forefront of accelerating acceptance for the LGBTQ+ community. The organization offers resources, information and research. GLAAD also organizes events for the LGBTQ+ community. 

Human Rights Campaign – The HRC is the largest civil rights organization that works to achieve equality for the LGBTQ+ community. They also offer resources, information, research and support.