Gender identity is how your internal sense of self and gender, whether that’s male, female, or a gender identity outside of the binary. It is something that only you can decide for yourself.
Let’s debunk some myths about gender identity!
Myth 1: ‘Gender identity and sex are the same’
This is perhaps the most common myth about gender identity.Sex is assigned to us at birth by a doctor examining our external genitalia, gender identity is someone’s internal understanding and feeling about themselves and therefore, it can only be given to us by ourselves.
Sometimes sex and gender identity align, but sometimes it doesn’t. If your sex and gender identity does align, you are cisgender. If your sex and gender identity doesn’t align, you may identify as transgender, or gender diverse.
Myth 2: ‘Gender identity and Gender Expression are always the same’
As explained by the Gender Unicorn, gender identity and expression are not one in the same and they can exist on two separate spectrums. Gender expression is how someone outwardly presents their gender to the external world – through things such as clothing, haircuts and styles, makeup, tattoos etc.
How someone presents their gender through their expression does not necessarily indicate what gender they identify with. Some folks may express their gender in the same way every day, whilst others might change how they express themselves over time, perhaps even changing throughout the day. You cannot assume that how someone expresses themselves on one day is how they identify every day.
Someone may also want to express their gender to affirm their gender identity, either way, it’s vital to not assume that what someone wears, or does with their hair, indicates their gender identity.
Myth 3: ‘Gender identity has only two categories, male and female’
Gender identity isn’t binary, meaning it doesn’t fit into two neat boxes of ‘male’ and ‘female’. There are various gender identities that fit under gender umbrellas.
Cisgender describes someone whose sex and gender identity align.
Agender describes someone who doesn’t have a gender or doesn’t align with a gender identity.
Bigender describes someone who fluctuates between male and female.
Genderfluid describes someone whose gender is fluid between male and female, but they may feel more of one gender than the other, or they may feel more of one gender one day than the other.
Genderqueer describes someone who doesn’t identity as male, female, or any gender diverse labels.
Nonbinary describes someone who identifies outside of the binary of male and female.
Third gender describes someone who doesn’t identify as male or female but identifies with another gender.
Two-spirit describes a person who has both characteristics of male and female gender identity and is used by the Native American community.
Transgender describes someone whose gender identity doesn’t align with their sex.
Myth 4: ‘You can assume a person’s gender identity based on their pronouns’
It’s important to not assume someone’s gender identity based on the pronouns that they use because they don’t necessarily always align. Pronouns can be used to affirm and express someone’s gender identity, but much like gender expression, they don’t always do this.
Someone who uses she/her may not be a woman, someone who uses he/him may not be a man, and someone who uses they/them may not be nonbinary. Gendered pronouns are used typically by those who are cisgender, but they can also be used by anyone and the same for gender neutral pronouns (they/them) and neopronouns (zir/zer, ey/em).
It’s vital to ask someone what pronouns they use, and to tell them your pronouns – but do not assume their gender identity based on the pronouns they give you.
Myth 5: ‘Everyone has a gender identity’
Not everyone has a gender identity, some folks simply do not align with any gender identity and choose to either identify as Agender or remain label-less. Some other labels people who do not have a gender use are; genderless, genderfree, genderblank, and neutrois. Not having a gender identity doesn’t make you ‘weird’, not aligning with a gender identity is completely valid, and there’s a whole community of agender folk out there.