The gender debate as it’s become known is something that is discussed on a daily basis on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. With the rise in the interest and openness surrounding gender and orientation discussions, these conversations can at times become somewhat heated. Largely this is can be due to a lack of education and understanding from the cisgender community. While of course, everyone should be entitled to their opinions, it’s important that everyone educates themselves on how others like to be identified as because it’s simply not acceptable to assume that one can title a person in a certain way. We all need to be mindful of other people’s feelings and be more open to new and more immersive ways of thinking. This infographic from the guys at Carvaka aims to shed some light on some of those terms that might confuse. It’s not an exhaustive list because this whole area continues to evolve but it’s definitely a good place to start!
The world at present is a binary place where gender traditionally defaults to man or woman. Sexual and gender diversity have come more into the spotlight in recent years; while society has progressed to being more open, friendly and understanding to minority groups, it can sometimes feel that the progress is not fast enough. Fostering acceptance among the public and the mainstream media is definitely a challenge and with the echo chambers and trolls that exist on social media eg Twitter, Facebook and so on, creating a welcoming society for all, no matter the sexuality or gender identity involves continuous learning.
Gender Identity & Sexuality Issues on Social Media
When you think about it, the behemoth of social media, Facebook was founded a mere 14 years ago and global widespread adoption really only began in the last decade. Since then of course, we have seen YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and so on gain huge popularity but they are all a relatively recent phenomenon. What they have brought is a platform where people can communicate and post about subjects that are close to their heart. While there are many positives about social media in that it provides a voice and space for minority groups to express themselves, it does also have controversies where people known as “trolls” exist.
What is an Internet troll?
“Someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as a forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.”
Internet trolls exist in many spheres of online conversation but the gender identity and sexual expression topics do seem to attract attention and controversy. Some of that “attention” manifests itself as abuse and vitriol served to individuals which understandably can be quite shocking and upsetting. Those who are open about their sexual and gender identity can sometimes be seen as targets especially if they are not deemed heteronormative. Name calling and verbal abuse about sexuality and gender identity is unfortunately not uncommon and at the root of this is a huge element of a lack of education and understanding. Of course, it must also be said that there also exists a welcoming and very positive community on social media and we have seen a number of times how this has assisted people in their quest to be understood.
Ellen Stephenson “comes out” as Transgender on her YouTube channel September 2017
For other “commentators” on social media, the “gender debate” as it’s sometimes referred to can be a source of humour (which again can be offensive and hurtful to others).
Everyone is entitled to their opinion of course but respect for others should be at the core of our expressions in a modern day society. It’s also important for people to attempt to understand and at the very least, to learn some of the terminology associated with these “new” identities and titles.
Below is a gender identity list and sexuality guide; a caveat is that people should respect an individual’s wishes in that they should ask a person if they’re ok being called a specific term. One should never assume anything especially in relation to individual identity, so it’s important to ask the individual what, if anything they’d like to be referred to as. Similarly, if the individual does not wish to discuss this, one should respect that also. It’s also important to note that this gender identity and sexuality terminology list is not exhaustive because language in this whole area is constantly changing.
Gender Identity List & Sexuality Guide of Terminology
This person sees themselves as neither man nor woman, has no gender identity, or no gender to express.
A gender separate from man or woman, that is not androgynous, or neutral, but instead a strong, specific “third” gendered feeling other than man or woman.
This describes the blending, in a particular individual, of traditionally male and female characteristics. The individual might not appear either feminine or masculine.
Anyone who has sexual attraction towards males. This can be contrasted with those who identify as heterosexual/homosexual.
A person who doesn’t have a sexual drive.
Someone who is open to exploring sexual relations with people of a different gender than those to whom one is usually attracted.
Bigender people experience two gender identities, occurring simultaneously or varying between the two. These gender identities could be male and female, but could also be non-binary identities.Also often referred to as a “demiboy” or “demigirl”.
Binarism describes how a society splits its members into one of two sets of gender specific roles, gender identities and attributes based on the shape of genitalia, i.e. male or female.
This is where someone is sexually attracted to both males and females (assuming there are only two genders).
This is a slang term that originated in the lesbian community which describes a more masculine (in attributes and/or appearance) lesbian individual.
This is a gender identity that matches the gender that was assigned at birth. Often referred to as “cis”.
This is a person who does not experience sexual attraction unless they form a emotional connection or bond.
This is a female who dresses and impersonates a man and emphasises male characteristics for public entertainment or a show.
This is a male who dresses as an exaggerated female for public entertainment; the drag queen is not necessarily gay.
This refers to a lesbian whose appearance is seen as traditionally feminine. Sometimes referred to as a “lipstick lesbian” (note
this is a derogatory term to some).
This refers to the distress/conflict a person experiences as a result of the sex and gender they were assigned at birth.
This is when a person does not have a fixed gender; they may feel more female on certain days and more male on other days.
A person who is outside of, falls in between, or fluctuates among the dual gender categories of man and woman. A genderqueer individual often experiences their gender as fluid, meaning it can shift and change from time to time.
This is a person who has a sexual attraction to breasts, vaginas and femininity. The person with those features is not necessarily a female. Gynesexuals are generally attracted to clean shaven, effeminate males or overtly feminine females.
This is the belief that people fall into distinct genders (male and female) and assumes that heterosexuality (attraction to the opposite sex) is the only “norm” sexual orientation.
When a person has a sexual attraction to someone of the opposite sex.
When a person is attracted to someone of their own sex.
This is a general term used for a number of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive/sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male.
This is a gender identity that is considered non-binary; the individual might be a mix of male and female. There is some debate as to whether one has to be intersex to be intergender.
A lesbian is a homosexual woman.
Lesbian,Gay, Bisexual,Transgender, Queer/Questioning.
Men who have sex with men = MSM / Women who have sex with women = WSW.
The title used before a person’s surname or full name by those who wish to avoid gender specification or by those who don’t want to identify themselves as male or female.
A neutrois person is someone who sees themselves as neither man nor woman, has no gender identity, or no gender to express.
This is a catch-all category for identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine.
This is a non-binary category defined as being more than one gender. A pangender person might consider themselves a member of all genders.
When someone has sexual attraction (romantic or emotional) towards people regardless of their sex or gender identity.
This is the practice of, or desire for, intimate and consensual relations with more than one partner, with the knowledge of all partners involved.
This is a non-binary category defined as being more than one gender. A pangender person might consider themselves a member of some but not all genders.
This represents sexual and gender minorities who are not heterosexual or cisgender. This can be considered an insulting term so it’s important to use with caution and only if the “queer” individual has indicated its use is comfortable for them.
When someone is sexually attracted to transgender or non-binary/genderqueer people; it doesn’t generally describe an attraction to specific genitalia.
Transgender people are those who have a gender identity or gender expression that differs from their assigned sex.
This refers to negative attitudes, behaviors or actions toward transgender or transsexual people, or toward transsexuality in general.
This refers to people who transition from one sex to another. For example, a person born as a male can “become” female through the use of hormones and/or surgical procedures.
Someone who derives pleasure from dressing in clothes and accessories mostly associated with the opposite sex.
Trigender people have exactly three gender identities, either all at the same time or varying between them. The three gender identities can be male, female and/or any non-binary identities.
Gender Identity Pronouns
- Some genderqueer people prefer to use gender-neutral pronouns. Usage of ‘they’, ‘their’ and ‘them’ in a singular sense is common and ze, sie, hir, co, and ey are used as well.
- Ze/hir/hir (“Gene ate hir food because ze was hungry.”) Ze is pronounced like “zee” can also be spelled zie or xe, and replaces she/he/they. Hir is pronounced like “here” and replaces her/hers/him/his/they/theirs.
- Some people prefer not to use pronouns at all, using the individual’s name as a pronoun instead. “Gene ate Gene’s food because Gene was hungry.”