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In our world, we commonly think of gender as just male and female, especially when we’re categorized by things like color and clothing. It seems like we can’t even look at anything without seeing it divided into boys and girls — this is heteronormativity. But the thing is, not everyone identifies as one or the other, or expresses themselves that way. Even if someone “looks” like a guy (also evidence of heteronormativity), they may prefer to use the pronouns “she/her” — and we need to respect that by not misgendering people. Some people identify as genderfluid, which means that your identify (like male or female), can move from one side of the spectrum to the other, and some people are genderless, or identify with neither of the genders that are imposed on people. The most important thing to remember is that everyone’s gender can be unique and everyone’s gender identity, gender orientation, and gender expression is important to respect.
Further, “female” and “male” even as solely biological designations still exclude some people, who are often classified as “intersex.” Intersex means that one’s anatomy or genetics does not line up with typical expectations for either male or female people. Heteronormativity would have society believe that to be intersex is to not be normal — which is simply untrue. For intersex people, doctors and parents have often decided their gender at birth and genital reconstructive surgery is performed to turn what is seen as atypical genitalia into something that is recognizably either male or female. Intersex identity also has its own spectrum, which means that anatomy for an intersex person can be entirely different for another intersex person.
Answer the prompts below (be sure to answer all parts of question.)
- What is the difference between heterosexism and homophobia?
- Can people change their sexual orientation if they want to? Or are people born with their orientation?
- Why do researchers generally recommend using the term “sexual orientation” rather than “sexual preference”?
- Should discrimination based on sexual orientation be outlawed to the same extent as discrimination based on race and sex?