One subject that confuses many is the complexity around gender, sex and attraction. The Trans Student Educational Resources (TSER) organisation have taken a lighthearted but effective approach to simplifying this topic.
Below, you will find the Gender Unicorn, with graphics representing factors that help define a person's gender, sexuality and personal identity. Looking at each arrow in the table as a bar graph with 0% on the left and 100% on the right, you can see how one person's Unicorn will look completely different from someone else's depending on the affinity each person feels for each category. If you want to try it out yourself, download the graphic by clicking the link at the very bottom and colour in your own Gender Unicorn.
By understanding the variables that make up our own Gender Unicorn, we can become more aware of the diversity around us.
Gender Identity: One’s internal sense of being male, female, neither of these, both, or another gender(s). Everyone has a gender identity, including you. For transgender people, their sex assigned at birth and their own internal sense of gender identity are not the same. Female, woman, and girl and male, man, and boy are also NOT necessarily linked to each other but are just six common gender identities.
Gender Expression/Presentation: The physical manifestation of one’s gender identity through clothing, hairstyle, voice, body shape, etc. Most transgender people seek to make their gender expression (how they look) match their gender identity (who they are), rather than their sex assigned at birth.
Sex Assigned at Birth: The assignment and classification of people as male, female, intersex, or another sex based on a combination of anatomy, hormones, chromosomes. It is important we don’t simply use “sex” because of the vagueness of the definition of sex and its place in transphobia. Chromosomes are frequently used to determine sex from prenatal karyotyping (although not as often as genitalia). Chromosomes do not determine genitalia.
Sexual Orientation: It is important to note that sexual and romantic/emotional attraction can be from a variety of factors including but not limited to gender identity, gender expression/presentation, and sex assigned at birth.
Romantic/Emotional Orientation: It is important to note that sexual and romantic/emotional attraction can be from a variety of factors including but not limited to gender identity, gender expression/presentation, and sex assigned at birth.
Colour in your own Gender Unicorn: Get colouring!