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Difference Between Gender And Gender Identity

Photo by Anete Lusina from Pexels Gender and gender identity are terms that are often used interchangeably. However, their only connection is that they’re terms to describe a person. Both terms talk about different concepts, even though they’re at times used in the same conversations.

In this article, we’ll give an eye-opener to the meaning of both terms, their differences, and instances where each is applicable. Hopefully, after reading this, you’ll be able to make proper use of both terms and apply them in appropriate contexts.

We’ll start by giving brief definitions of both and other related terms – this will give the insight we need to grasp the differences between both terms.

Gender – a social construct of norms, behaviors, and roles expected of a particular sex. These opinions of society are subject to change over time, depending on the intellect of the prevalent generation. Safe to say the meaning/implications of owing to gender is flexible and is a function of the opinion of current society.

Gender identity – one’s personal perception of their gender. It’s one’s personal opinion about their sex, or what they prefer that their sex should be called. As such, one’s gender identity can differ from the ‘gender’ perceived by society, and it can also differ from their natural sex at birth.

While that’s the case the gender identity of most people aligns with their sex and gender perceived by society – perhaps the reason why most people believe that gender and gender identity are the same things. However, the differences should be respected, especially in the cases of transgender people where gender identity differs from the sex assigned at birth.

Sex – a person’s biological status that’s assigned at birth. This is often defined by external anatomy – it can be categorized as male, female, or intersex. The term ‘intersex’ doesn’t directly describe a particular gender; it’s just any other gender outside the known binary cases.

Cisgender – also known as Cis, is a term used to define someone whose gender identity aligns with the sex they got at birth.

Transgender – also known as Trans, is a term used to define someone whose gender identity differs from the sex they got at birth. For example, a transgender woman is someone who was identified as male at birth but carries the gender identity of a female.

Agender – a term to define someone who doesn’t identify as any gender.

Gender transition – refers to the process a person takes to bring their sex and gender, to align with their gender identities. It includes a variety of activities like surgery, hormone therapy, public awareness, and the update of legal documents.

Gender dysphoria – is a psychological problem that results from a person’s sex at birth not aligning with their gender identity. It must be said that not all Trans people will have the issue of gender dysphoria, more so, the people who do experience it at different levels.

Bottom Line

Despite humanity’s advancement in understanding sexes, gender, and gender identity, we can still argue that our level of understanding is low. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), gender identity is defined as “a person’s deeply felt, inherent sense of being a boy, a man, or male; a girl, a woman or female; or an alternative gender which may not correspond to a person’s sex assigned at birth.”

The simplest way to put it is that gender identity is a person's inner sense of being – whether they’re male or female, or something else. On the other hand, gender is society’s perception of one’s gender identity which is determined by their sex. This means that a person can have a different gender identity than what society suggests, more so, a person’s gender identity is independent of what society thinks.

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