What is sexuality? What is gender? Are the two separate or intertwined?
According to Merriam-Webster, sexuality is “the quality or state of being sexual.” At the same time, gender is defined as “the behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits typically associated with one sex.” The Usage Guide provided by the dictionary points out the contemporary differences between the two. Wikipedia also defines gender in modern terms. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.
Human sexuality is complex at best. One’s sexual orientation is determined by many factors, including biology, genetics, and cultural influences. The concept of gender as it relates to sexuality is a recent construct. For most of history, gender was associated with grammar and language. Studies in the mid-twentieth century introduced the role of “gender” as it relates to sexuality.
Terms surrounding sexuality are changing. Back in the day, those of us who felt neither male nor female used the phrase “androgynous.” Nowadays, we see words like “asexual,” “pansexual,” and “genderqueer.”
Nothing is more intimate than our sexual selves, and being able to acknowledge our innermost desires is crucial to a healthy, happy existence. Acceptance and support of our gay friends and family reduces teen suicide and helps with depression treatment among the LGBTQ+ community. Being open and honest with our families, and getting acceptance, is one of the first steps to a life of happiness.
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