Introduction to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. In order to better understand we need to review some basic concepts.
Gender identity is a person’s internal sense of being a man, woman, neither or both.
Since gender identity is internal, one’s gender identity is not necessarily visible to others.
Transgender/Trans: A term for people whose gender identity, expression or behavior is different from those associated with their assigned sex at birth.
Note: Transgender is correctly used as an adjective, not a noun. Transgender person, transgender people.
Trans Men: Female to Male, FTM or F2M, transgender persons who were assigned female at birth but have a male gender identity.
Trans Women: Male to Female, MTW or M2W, transgender persons who were assigned male at birth but have a female gender identity.
Non-binary trans people: Gender queer is an umbrella term for gender identities that are not exclusively male or female, identities which are not aligned with the gender binary.
Cisgender: A person who identifies with the physical sex that they were assigned at birth.
Everyone has a sexual orientation — how they feel towards others.
Sexual orientation is a term often used when referring to an individual’s emotional and/or sexual attraction to those of the same and/or another gender. Gay, lesbian, bisexual or heterosexual are examples of identity labels that people may use.
Being gay is not a choice. Being gay is not a disorder.
“Both heterosexuality and homosexuality are normal aspects of human sexuality.” – American Psychological Association
These organizations have all stated: that homosexuality and heterosexuality are both normal aspects of human sexuality. There is nothing abnormal about being homosexual.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics
- World Health Organization
- The American Psychological Association
- Centers for Disease Control
- American Psychiatric Association
- American Mental Health Counselors Association
- National Alliance on Mental Illness
- The American Medical Association
- American Counseling Association
- Mental Health America
- The National Association of Social Workers and the
- American School Counselor Association
Lesbian: Traditionally used to refer to a woman whose emotional, romantic and/or physical attraction is to other women.
Gay: Traditionally used to refer to a man whose emotional, romantic and/or physical attraction is to other men.
Bisexual: Traditionally used to refer to an individual whose emotional, romantic and/or physical attraction is to a person without regard to the person’s gender.
Heterosexual: Traditionally used to refer to an individual whose emotional, romantic and/or physical attraction is to a person of the other sex.
Reflection Questions: Do you remember your first crush? Was it a decision?
Diversity of Human Sexuality is Normal
Dr. Cynthia Chappell is a microbiologist/immunologist doing research on infectious disease topics. She is also a PFLAG mom who continues to educate herself and others about gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender issues. She reviewed medical and scientific literature on Human Sexual Orientation (some 275 papers) focusing on those with confirmed studies done in a sound scientific method. Following is a short discussion of Biological Diversity. Her entire presentation is presented in the course “Science of Sexual Orientation”.
Everyone expresses their internal sense of gender identity and how they feel toward others in unique ways.
There are many different labels that people may use to describe the way they feel about others (orientation) or about their internal sense (gender and gender expression).
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ+): These are the most common labels adopted by individuals who are sexual or gender minorities.
Some may choose not to label their sexual orientation or gender identity because they do not believe that the labels accurately reflect their experiences or because they fear the stigma associated with the labels.
Whether or not a person is able to publicly disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity, does not change how they feel toward others or about themselves.