There are many genders and many ways of experiencing and expressing them.

What we present here is a living document. Presently, it only shows a few of the several ways in which gender can be felt and understood. However, it is intended to evolve and grow through interactions with the community. Keeping this in mind, we welcome your voices, stories, and input in ways that feel affirming to you as well as everybody else.

 

Discover more about the basics of gender >
Learn more about the various gender identities >
Read insights, self-reflection prompts on how to navigate your dating firsts >

 

GENDER
IDENTITY

Gender Identity is personal. It is how we see ourselves.

Some of us don’t consciously think about our gender identity beyond what we are told by society. But if you had a moment to really think about it, what would you say?

GENDER
BINARY

Ever noticed how many people only say ‘man’ and ‘woman’ or ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ when they are talking about gender? Ever noticed what society’s expectations are about being the ‘right kind of man’ or ‘right kind of woman’? Often, these binary expectations contrast with one another: a man should be strong and domineering, whereas a woman should be weak and submissive, or being a man means being stoic and hiding emotions vs. being a woman means being sentimental and vulnerable.

This rigid and narrow idea of what gender is and how it is performed, stems from the assumption that there are only two ways of being in the world. This in turn is presented as the default gender binary (binary meaning two) – man and woman – which are expected to be polar opposites of each other. 

GENDER
EXPRESSION

Gender Expression is how we express ourselves. It’s how we communicate and present our gender. This could mean appearances that are visible such as how we do our hair or what we wear, but it could also be the less visible things like our behaviour or mannerisms! There is no set or right way of expressing gender. 

One important thing, most central to the idea of gender, is that only we can decide what our gender is and how we want to present or express it! 

For many of us, our gender is something we explore and discover more and more about each day. Sometimes it takes a while to find an expression that feels comfortable for us. It may take some work for us to know who we truly are, given that society is always telling us who we should be. It’s perfectly valid that our gender evolves with time and experiences.

GENDER
SPECTRUM

In reality, though, there aren’t two but many, many genders (some available in the glossary below) and many, many ways of experiencing them. This real and complex picture of how people live and experience gender is called the gender spectrum. The gender spectrum encompasses all the different ways in which people experience gender (or don’t).  

PRONOUNS

Gender Pronouns are how a person would like to be referred to.

There are several pronouns and people use the ones that they feel most comfortable with. In many languages across the world, pronouns are not gendered, but are used according to factors like the social position of the person, their age, or even the familiarity and intimacy of the relationship between the speaker and the person being referenced. However, one of the most important things to keep in mind is that a person’s pronouns should never be assumed.   

For instance, while many non-binary persons may use they/them pronouns or neo-pronouns like ze/zir (often in English-speaking communities), many also use he/him or she/her or a combination of pronouns that they feel most comfortable with.

Pronouns are not the sole marker of a person’s gender. 

In the English language, they/them, used in its singular form, are gender-neutral pronouns, and can be used when you’re unaware of someone’s pronouns and don’t want to make any assumptions.

How do I find out what someone’s pronouns are?

How do I find out what someone’s pronouns are?

Gender is personal and since there is no way for you to guess what someone’s pronouns are, it is always good to ask. A simple, “My pronouns are ____ and ____” in your introduction signals that you will respect their pronouns, while inviting them to share as well!

It is also possible that someone may not be out to everybody, so do check which pronouns they’d like to be called in public, at their workplace, in front of their parents and in other special circumstances, as compared to when they are in a space that feels safe to them.

How will I know if someone is attracted to me if I don’t know their sexuality?

How will I know if someone is attracted to me if I don’t know their sexuality?

Whether someone is straight or otherwise, knowing their sexuality would not automatically confirm (or rule out!) whether they are attracted to you. The best way to find out if someone is interested in you is to check with them what they are feeling or thinking, instead of trying to predict it based on their sexuality.  

Sometimes, even if someone is attracted to you, they may not necessarily want to date you or do anything about that attraction, and there can be many reasons for this. The only way to know, and to move forward, is to talk to them!

I am attracted to a genderqueer person. Does that mean I am queer too?

I am attracted to a genderqueer person. Does that mean I am queer too?

The beauty of your gender and sexuality is that only you get to define it. However, it is quite possible that the way you engage with a genderqueer person whom you’re attracted to, might be different from the way you engage with someone you consider as belonging to the “opposite sex”. Since we live in a world where straight dating rules are considered universal (boy asks girl out, girl is coy and allows the boy to take the lead, boy asks girl’s father for permission to ask her to marry him etcetera etcetera), your attraction to a genderqueer person might require you to explore new ways of dating and relating to them. While on this journey, if you start relating to the LGBTQIA+ community and feel comfortable with assuming the queer identity for yourself, then so be it!

Bell Hooks said it best: 

“… queer as not about who you’re having sex with, that can be a dimension of it, but queer as being about the self that is at odds with everything around it and has to invent and create and find a place to speak and to thrive and to live.” 

However, if you continue to identify as ‘straight’, then it would be best to discuss it with the person you’re in a relationship with. They might not mind it or they might find that it invalidates their own identity – and those are aspects that you must navigate together.

What will sex look like with a transgender person?

What will sex look like with a transgender person?

Partnered sex is a process of exploring mutual pleasure in a safe, consensual manner, regardless of the gender identities of the people involved. Communicating one’s needs, expectations, and boundaries is crucial to the process and helps build trust between the partners. Being mindful and checking-in with one another during sex ensures that everybody involved is partaking in it enthusiastically and enjoying themselves. 

Just like another’s gender identity, it is not advisable to assume what their bodies are like or what pleasure means to them. It is important to ask your partner(s) about their desires and the pace that they are comfortable with. Since many trans-folx might feel dysphoric about certain parts of their bodies, it helps to check whether they are comfortable being stimulated in those areas, their boundaries around it, and their other erogenous or pleasure zones. These are all great approaches to having sex with cis-people as well, as everybody’s experience of pleasure is unique to their own styles, senses, and s-expectations! 

All of us have very different ways of experiencing and expressing our gender identity. What you see here is an ongoing conversation about gender.