Alphabet Soup: RBL's Guide To The Spectrum Of Sexuality And Gender Identity
We’ve all had to fill out those dreaded surveys where you’re asked about gender and the survey only lists two options: male or female. But hello – not everyone fits into that outdated gender binary!
Gone are the days when society would only accept a female or male gender identity. Sure, many awesome RBL babes identify as female, but many also fall across the wider gender spectrum. What is meant by gender spectrum? This is the beautiful concept that gender can fall across a wide range of identities, so it’s okay to identify however you feel comfortable.
Of course, you definitely don’t need to conform to a label! However you prefer to identify or describe both your gender and sexuality is a personal choice that only you can make. But when you’re trying to learn more about your own gender, or support a friend along their journey, it can be confusing with so many terms out there to describe gender and sexuality. To help you out, here’s our guide to commonly used terms for sexual orientation and gender identity.
Which gender types should I know about?
We love that our world is so diverse, with amazing humans able to represent themselves in their own way, without needing to conform to historical norms. (Even swimwear brands are starting to make gender-neutral products, which we’re lovin’!)
Keep in mind that your gender (and sexuality) can absolutely adapt over time. Just because you feel a certain gender represents you now, that doesn’t mean you can’t change how you describe yourself in the future.
There are many ways to identify your gender (if you wish to identify it at all!) – so many that we actually can’t even list all of them here. However, below are some of the most common gender types.
To be agender means you don’t actually have a gender identity, or you feel like none of the gender types suit you. An agender person might feel as if they are not male, female or any of the other more common gender descriptions. (See also ‘non-binary’ below.)
If you were born female and you identify as female, then you might consider yourself to be cisgender. Cisgender refers to someone whose gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth.
If you’re genderfluid, your gender identity may change over time, depending on how you feel. You might feel different daily, or less frequently.
The word “queer” can refer to those who may not snugly fit under the label of hetero or homosexual norms. Similarly, “genderqueer” is a term that can be used to describe anyone who identifies outside of the norms of binary gender, or who’s in the process of questioning or exploring their gender identity.
As an intersex person, you might not identify as male or female, based on the reproductive organs, chromosomes, or hormones you were born with.
Someone who’s non-binary doesn’t define their gender under the traditional binary classifications of male or female. (Not all non-binary people are agender; someone who is agender doesn’t feel they have a gender identity at all, whereas someone who is non-binary might.)
Our beautiful transgender friends of the world identify as a gender that’s different from the one assigned to them at birth. You might identify as male instead of female, for example, or you might be non-binary.
This gender type is used in Indigenous North American communities and it represents someone who is both masculine and feminine. It’s often considered by these communities to be a “third gender”.
What are the different types of sexuality?
Okay, so that’s a brief overview of the gender spectrum done – but what about sexuality? Yep, you guessed it: there’s an amazing spectrum of sexuality too. How many sexualities are there? The truth is, there’s no set answer, as some people describe their sexuality in a way that’s unique to them.
However, to help you learn more, here are some of the most common sexual identities.
If you’re asexual, you aren’t sexually attracted to others, or interested in sex. Some describe asexuality as a lack of sexual orientation.
Bi-curious babes might be thinking about bisexuality or same-sex attractions, exploring whether or not it’s for them. (Discovering your sexuality can be a process and a journey, so you take your time!)
As a bisexual person, you might be attracted to multiple genders, such as male and female.
Gay and Lesbian
The terms gay and lesbian represent those who are attracted to the same gender as their own, with a gay man being attracted to other men and a lesbian being a womxn attracted to other womxn. However, you can identify as gay and queer, for example (see below), so don’t feel you need to limit yourself to one term.
Heterosexual describes when a person is attracted to the opposite sex – for example, a man attracted to womxn. While this was sadly considered “the norm” for a long time, we’re luckily starting to see much more widespread acceptance of other sexualities in society.
Image by Jana Sabeth on Unsplash: There are many different types of sexuality, so we encourage RBL babes to be out, proud, and happy!
LGBTQIA+ is an umbrella term used to describe someone who isn’t heterosexual – the acronym stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, and asexual. However, it’s up to each individual to decide for themselves as to whether or not they want to be part of the LBGTQIA+ label – if not, that’s cool too!
To be pansexual means you’re attracted to people regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. Or you might also see yourself as polysexual, which is an attraction to multiple genders. (Note that this isn’t the same as being in a poly relationship, which means being intimately involved with more than one partner.)
You can also simply label your sexuality as queer, which might suit you better than identifying as something more specific. Queer babes might feel attraction not based on hetero or homosexual norms.
How can I discover where I sit on the spectrum of sexuality and gender identity?
The sheer number of amazing ways to describe your gender and sexuality can provide comfort to those who don’t feel they fit into societal norms. However, it can also be hella confusing to work out how you want to describe yourself – and that’s okay!
For many RBL babes, this process can take time. It helps to do some thinking and reflecting, talk to loved ones and partners, or read more about sexuality and gender types. If any of the terms listed above describe you, awesome! But if they don’t, there's no need to label yourself – some people find it helpful, while others don’t.
Sexuality and gender identity are a unique part of each person’s makeup. We encourage all of the gorgeous womxn of the world to stand up for themselves and shout their identity from the rooftops! You’re proud, strong, and worthy – never let anyone tell you otherwise.
Featured image by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash