LGBTQIA+ An Educational Series: Gender Identity vs Sexual Orientation

By Scottie Wilcher and Savi Ettinger

This is an educational series meant to distribute information about subjects of sexuality and gender orientations. This month’s topic is the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity and how they intersect!

As the idea of intersectionality begins to gain popularity, more and more people have started to educate themselves on the various identities that people in their communities associate with themselves and their personal experiences. Some identities are commonly understood: class, race, ethnicity, level of education, ability. However, other identities are less obvious to some, like the identities of gender identity and sexual orientation. These two identities are separate, though many people continue to use them interchangeably. One aspect that the two identities share is that they both exist on a spectrum.

Gender identity, or simply gender, is the sense of “being” or “feeling” a certain gender: male, female, non-binary, agender, genderfluid, and more. Someone’s gender has nothing to do with the biological sex characteristics that they were born with. If someone identifies with the gender that they were assigned at birth, they are cisgender. If someone identifies as a gender that is different than the gender associated with the biological sex characteristics they were assigned at birth, they are transgender.

Sexual orientation, often called sexual identity or sexuality, is a separate identity entirely. Though sexual identity and gender identity are often talked about together, they are the not the same thing. Sexual identity refers to the the kind of sexual or physical attraction that people feel towards others. There are a multitude of different sexual orientations, including but not limited to homosexuality, bisexuality, asexuality, pansexuality, and heterosexuality.

This series is meant to be educational and to inform people of terminology. Gender and sexual identity are personal traits, and people may define themselves as they choose or may decide to not use labels. Stay tuned for the next installment of LGBTQIA+ in The Salemite!

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