Gender & Sexuality

How you perceive yourself and who are attracted to (sexually or romantically) are two of the most important parts of your identity. As you grow up, it’s absolutely normal to be turned on by or develop feelings for both the same and the opposite sex. Doubt and uncertainty are very, very common. Whether you feel like your body is the right fit for you or not quite, whether you fancy girls or boys (or both, or neither), everyone is different and deserves respect for having the courage to be themselves.

Find a service

In fact, the world of gender and sexuality is a rather fascinating one, have a look:

Anatomical sex refers to the parts of your body which are used at birth to determine whether you are male, female or intersex/undefined (in some countries): this includes your reproductive organs, hormone levels and/or chromosomal composition (XX for most females and XY for most males).

Intersex is a general term used for a number of conditions, where a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t fit the typical definitions of female or male. For example, a person might be born appearing to be female on the outside, but having mostly male-typical anatomy on the inside. Or they may be born with genitals that seem to be in-between the usual male and female types – for example, a girl with a noticeably large clitoris, or lacking a vaginal opening, or a boy with a notably small penis, or with a scrotum that is divided so that it has formed more like a labia. Alternatively, it also refers to people with mosaic genetics, whereby some of their cells have XX and some – XY chromosomes. Some people live and die with intersex anatomy without anyone (including themselves) ever knowing.

Intersex is mainly used to refer to one’s physicality. While a small number of people choose to identify as intersex, most people with the condition have a stable gender identity.

The UK Intersex Association

Unlike anatomical sex, gender identity only depends on how one feels in their body in relation to their gender – it is strictly individual and entirely up to the individual to determine. A person can, for example, be born with a perfectly functioning male anatomy, but still feel like they are a woman, or vice versa. Some people feel like they belong to both genders, neither or that they fall somewhere in-between.

Cis-gender people (or the majority of the population) identify with the sex they have been assigned at birth – boys feel male and girls feel female.

Transgender (sometimes shortened to trans) people usually feel like they belong to the opposite gender to the one they have been assigned at birth. So an anatomical female might feel like they are really male, and vice versa. The degree to which they feel that way varies substantially, so trans is really an umbrella term for a whole range of identities.

You can find out more about gender at Gendered Intelligence 

If you are looking for support there are groups that meet regularly across the country, visit TransUnite to find out more.

Some people do not feel like they belong to either the male or female gender, but somewhere in-between, to both at the same time or the way they feel simply changes according to the situation. This is, again, strictly individual, but they are generally known as genderqueer or gendervariant.

Please note: while ‘queer’ has recently been used by people to indicate a non-heterosexual/non-cisgender identity, it is traditionally a derogatory term. As such, you should only describe someone as queer if they have asked you to do so first.

Gendered Intelligence

Gender expression is the full range of clothing, mannerisms, behaviour and chosen names used to express oneself. It often has nothing to do with a person’s sexual orientation and is sometimes not related to their gender identity either – an anatomical boy can be straight, identify as male, but still enjoy wearing make-up or act in a traditionally feminine way. Similarly, an anatomical girl might wear her hair short and dress in clothes tailored for men, but that does not necessarily mean she is gay or trans. Generally, everyone should have the freedom to express themselves as they see fit.

BeatBullying UK

Sexual orientation is a person’s enduring capacity (or lack thereof) for being sexually attracted to others on the basis of their gender. This might change numerous times throughout your life (or remain constant) and is rarely exclusive – people who are generally attracted to the opposite gender (heterosexual) can sometimes experience attraction towards someone of their own and vice versa. In fact, this is extremely common.

Please note: Sexual orientation and sexual behaviour are not always the same thing – one can engage in a sexual activity with someone of the same/opposite gender for a variety of reasons, without this changing who they are normally attracted to.

Means that you are primarily attracted to people of the opposite gender (e.g. people who identify as female and are attracted to males, and vice versa)

Means that you are primarily attracted to people of the same gender (e.g. people who identify as female and are attracted to females, and vice versa)

Have ANY questions or need support?

SNAP: Bromley’s local LGBT Youth Group

Get free condoms, regardless of age

Means that you are attracted to both the male and female gender.

Have ANY questions or need support?

SNAP: Bromley’s local LGBT Youth Group

Get free condoms

Means that you are attracted to all genders (male/female/trans/genderqueer) and to people regardless of their gender (gender-blind).

Have ANY questions or need support?

SNAP: Bromley’s local LGBT Youth Group

Get free condoms

Romantic orientation is a person’s enduring capacity (or lack thereof) for developing romantic feelings towards others on the basis of their gender.This might change numerous times throughout your life (or remain constant) and is rarely exclusive – people who are generally romantically attracted to the opposite gender (heterosexual) can sometimes experience attraction towards someone of their own and vice versa. In fact, this is extremely common.

Romantic and sexual orientation are often linked, but don’t always have to be – there are people who experience sexual attraction to the same sex, but only form feelings for the opposite, or vice versa.

  • Hetero-romantic (‘Straight’) > Means that you are primarily attracted to people of the opposite gender (e.g. people who identify as female and are attracted to males, and vice versa)
  • Homo-romantic (‘Gay or Lesbian’) > Means that you are primarily attracted to people of the same gender (e.g. people who identify as female and are attracted to females, and vice versa).
  • Bi-romantic > Means that you are romantically attracted to both the male and female gender.
  • Aromantic > Means that you experience no romantic feelings towards anyone.
  • Sexual & Romantic Practices > Sexual practices are the physical expression of sexuality. Things like celibacy, masturbation, mutual masturbation, petting, oral sex, anal sex, vaginal sex, fisting, rimming, scissoring, monogamy, polygamy, group sex, etc.

 

Have ANY questions or need support?

 

Romantic practices are the expression of romantic interest i.e. engagement, marriage, civil partnerships (as they relate to individuals rather than the law), poly and monoamory, etc.

Means that you experience no sexual attraction towards anyone (asexual), are only attracted to people that you have formed a romantic/spiritual connection with (demisexual), or only experience sexual attraction occasionally (gray-A).

The Asexuality Visibility & Education Network

HIDE