5 Myths about Gender vs. Sex vs. Sexual Orientation

I have a lot of opinions about how woefully unprepared children and teens are for topics around the broad and diverse umbrella of information we call “sex ed.” I look forward to writing another post (or many more) about what is missed. For now, one of the biggest areas is education on gender vs. sex vs. sexual orientation. One term I want to quickly define is cisgender: the state of being born with the same sex that you later identify as your gender, as opposed to transgender: being born a different sex than you later identify as your gender. Since I was born with the sex female and still identify primarily as female, I am cisgender.

Without further ado, here are some myths to consider about these three separate categories:

  1. You should have a gender reveal party for an infant. Developmental experts view the earliest age a child has an idea what gender is (let alone what they identify is) takes place around 3 or 4 years old. What excited parents-to-be mean by gender reveal is more accurately a sex reveal, which may not match their gender later on.
  2. Gender identity and sexual orientation are related. You see this a lot in stereotypes about the gay community: if you see a masculine woman, you might assume they are a lesbian; if you encounter an effeminate man, you might assume they are gay. However, many people believe gender identity is a spectrum so there are degrees of femininity and masculinity which have NOTHING to do with what gender of people you are attracted to. And that’s only if you subscribe to the idea of two genders in the first place.
  3. The gender binary (male-female) is and always has been the mainstream throughout the world. In checking my facts for this article, I stumbled across the COOLEST interactive map of different views on gender.
  4. Transgender people always get surgery and take hormones. Every transgender person is different: some socially transition (become “out” as their authentic gender to other people, sometimes just trusted people, sometimes publicly), some don’t. Some get some surgery but not all, some get all surgeries available, some take hormones, but you can’t assume a transgender person even wants one or all of these things. Here is the danger of assuming that all of a group of people has one singular narrative, as told by one of my favorite authors/activists.
  5. Passing transgender bathroom bills makes people, especially women, more vulnerable to violence in bathrooms. There have been zero incedences of transgender individuals violating others’ rights when using the correct bathroom for them. Read about the official statement of the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence against Women.

What do you think about these myths? Please let me know if you agree or especially if I’m wrong about any of these!

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