All About Gender

You may have heard a few terms thrown around to describe gender: non-binary, gender fluid, genderqueer, trangender, cisgender, etc. But what does it all mean? 

In this stream, sex educator Roan Coughtry, MSW — who identifies as a person who is queer, non-binary trans — talks all about gender. 

First, you might be wondering what is the difference between sex, gender, and sexuality. Sex is the anatomy we’re born with — our sex organs, hormones, and chromosomes. If you have a penis, a doctor will assign you male at birth. If you have a vagina, you’ll be assigned female at birth. If your biology is ambiguous, you may be intersex. 

Gender, on the other hand, is the societal idea of how you perform that sex. If you’re assigned male at birth, for example, you’re expected to dress like a boy, like sports, play with action figures, be attracted to girls, etc. Because gender is a social construct based on some biology, but not necessarily related to biology, it’s also a spectrum with a host of genders that exist between and outside the male-female binary. Sexuality is who you’re attracted to. They can be the same gender and/or sex as you, or a different gender and/or sex as you, or you could have no sexual attraction to anyone (asexual), or a sexual attraction to people based on who they are, not their gender (pansexual). There are many more ways to present sexuality. 

To understand your gender, it can sometimes take a bit of experimenting to figure out an identity that resonates with you, if any do at all. Here’s just a few listed to get clear on what the various gender identities are. 


You identify with your biological sex and the gender you were assigned at birth. 


You do not identify with your biological sex and the gender you were assigned at birth. A trans person may or may not alter themselves physically — with clothes, hair and makeup styles, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or surgery — to present their identified gender to the world. 

Gender fluid 

You change genders, pronouns, and gender performance as you see fit and as various genders speak to you at different times. 

Gender non-conforming 

You do not subscribe to any gender as an identity or label. You may also be agender. 


This is a way of saying you are non-binary, meaning you are not a man or woman, but inhabit qualities of both genders or qualities.  

Pan gender 

The idea that you can be all genders at once across the spectrum. 

Third gender

This term is used especially in Thailand for people who are trans or do not identify with being exclusively male or female. 

Two spirit 

This “is a indigenous umbrella term for the variance of gender and sexual identities found across Native American tribes,” says Coughtry. It’s used to reverently describe people who see across gender and do not identify exclusively as male or female. 

There are many more genders you could identify with. The most important thing, however, is to simply attach yourself to the labels you find empowering. If none of these gender identities speak to you, then leave them all behind and just be you.

Video transcript

Anyway, my name is Roan Coughtry. I am a sex educator and a pleasure professional here at O. school. I am really excited to be with you all today. I am a facilitator, I'm a writer. I'm a healing artist. I do a lot of workshops around the country around sex ed, around gender and sexuality and around anti oppression in general. And so yeah, I am excited to be doing this stream specifically on gender, and ask me anything about gender. I get a lot of questions pretty frequently around gender terms. Around trans issues around pronouns, and so I thought it would be good to just do a stream on it and give people a chance to ask whatever questions they have. So, this stream is for everybody, it's for folks who are exploring their own gender and may be new to exploring their own gender. It's for folks who have been living in all sorts of diverse genders for a long time and like to geek out about this stuff. It's for allies and loved ones and family members and partners. Of people who may be trans or gender non-conforming in some way. Who wanna know, "Hey how can I better support my loved one." And it's for like anybody everybody, who's just like, "Hey, I know I've like heard of trans "and these other things and I wanna know more "and I don't know that much "and I wanna know more." So yeah, I'm excited to geek out about it. So again my name is Roan, I use he and they pronouns. So he/him/his, they/them/theirs and I identify as trans, specifically non-binary trans, and I'll talk a little bit more about what that means to me, since is also different for everybody there are as many genders in this world as there are people right? Like we can all identify in different ways. And so yeah, in general I ask that people respect pronouns in this stream. So don't assume anyone's pronouns. Ask if you're not sure. And speak from the I, use I statements and speak with love and respect. So this is an ask me anything stream, like I want people to feel comfortable asking any questions that you have. We can often move out in the world and you know we don't all know everything right? There are always people in communities and topics and ideas that we don't know that much about right? We may be experts in like a million things and then we still don't know a million other things right? So, there's nothing wrong with not knowing and I really wanna stress that, there is nothing wrong with being new to an idea, new to a concept, having never heard about it before. I know we can get judgy sometimes right? Around like, "Oh you don't know about this?" We can get kind of judging with each other, around this idea of not knowing And I really wanna scratch that for this stream, like not knowing is great, not knowing is juicy. Not knowing means that there's all this space to learn new things. That said, so this isn't ask me anything like any questions that you might be embarrassed to ask that you wanna know more about. That you've wanted to know but you haven't known how to ask, this is what this stream is for. Now at the same time I am gonna really ask that my ask to you is to be respectful. So whatever questions you have, just be respectful about it. You know this is not a place to be like asking questions in a way that like, what's a good example? So, coming with an energy that's like... Well so we can ask questions in different ways right? We can ask questions in a way where we think we already know the answer and that person's wrong, and so we're being like "So I know this is full of shit, "so I'm gonna ask like what is this? "It's full of shit." And so that's not a respectful way of asking you a question right? Like that's not holding spaciousness to actually hear the answer, that's just going in with our own agenda and being like, "I know what's right and wrong "and I'm just gonna put it out there." And kind of the form of a question but it's really not a question. So that's what I'm talking about, like not doing. This is a space for all sorts of questions and respectful questions. So that's the main thing, be respectful, don't assume anyone's pronouns. We're gonna talk a little bit about pronouns for anybody who is like, "What the fuck is a pronoun?" "I don't remember English class, "what are we talking about?" I'm an editor and when I started getting paid to edit I had to go back in and this was before I identified as trans, and knew that much about trans issues. I had to go back him look up like, what are pronouns? I don't remember parts of speech. So yeah, so let's go ahead and get started. So as I said before, Brit, Brittany is our amazing moderator. As Brit is saying check out our Community Guidelines if this is your first stream it's good to read through those just to know how to keep it a safe space. Brit is gonna be here to monitor the space and keep it welcoming, keep it affirming, keep it fun and also to help me keep track of the chat if there are questions that I missed. Then Brit's gonna flag them. Also Brit, what Brit, or Britney, do you prefer Brit or Brittany? And what pronouns do you use? I haven't asked you that yet. And so yeah, Brit's gonna help me keep track of that, yes English teacher on board, I appreciate you. Yep language, language is weird yeah language is real weird. Welcome Jessica, I'm so glad to have you I'm glad you love the early stream too. I love streaming during the day so I might keep this up, this might be a new thing. So yeah, let's go ahead and get started. Also the other thing I will say if at any point during the stream you like what you hear, you have a little extra to share, tap on that little tip jar down at the bottom of your screen and give a little love, tips are by no means required we really just want this to be accessible to people around the world. We do have people tuning in from around the world watching these streams and that's phenomenal. As someone who grew up with absolutely no sex education, I'm like oh my god yes I wish I had this when I was younger. So tips are not required at all, we mostly just want you. And if you have a little extra to give, tips are how we get paid right? So tips are how I'm able to keep doing this work too. Awesome Brit, Brittany she/her pronouns great. Yeah, so let's get going. So I wanna know from you, what are your questions around gender? Anything, whether it's trans, whether it's pronouns, whether it's what is non-binary? Whether it's what's the difference between pangender and cisgender? What are your questions? And I'm gonna kind of just keep talking and throw some things out there as you all are typing and thinking of your questions. But let me get that question down here in the chat box so you can refer back to it. So what do you wanna know about gender? What are your questions about gender? I'm gonna start off talking a little bit about my own experience, and I'd love to hear anybody who can relate to this or anybody who's like, "Oh yeah I know somebody like that." And yeah, and then you know I'll tell a little bit of my story, and then we'll chat some more and any questions that come up. So like, I said before I identify as trans, as transgender and specifically I identify as non-binary trans. So that basically means I am NOT a man, I'm not a woman I am another gender. I am sometimes, that means I'm in between, I'm a little bit of both. I have a lot of masculinity and a lot of femininity and we'll flow back and forth between those. And so, yeah for me non-binary trans means that I exist outside of this binary. So, a little bit about binary. Anyone who is a computer nerd, you know binary language right? Zeros and ones. Binary basically means two. And so, we're born into a society that says there are two genders, there's men there's women, there's boys, there's girls, that's it. And in reality, there's a lot more than that, so even when we're talking about physical Anatomy when we're talking about the biological sex of a person again we're taught that's binary, there's males, there's females. There's like people with penises and people's people with vaginas, and that's not true. Biologically speaking, there are a lot of intersex people who actually have kind of a combination of different, either different Anatomy, different hormones. Different chromosomes and kind of exist in between or outside of this binary male, female. And so when we think about okay, in nature, in biology, there's more than just two sexes. Then it stands to reason there's more than two genders. So the difference between sex and gender just real quick. Sex is our biology, right? So it's the anatomy we're born with, the sex organs the hormones in our body, the chromosomes, XX XY, XXY that's biological sex. Gender is the societal idea of what it means to be a certain sex. So if you're born biologically with a penis society says, "Oh you're a boy." And then all the ideas that come with being a boy. That like boys wear blue, boys like action figures. Boys get crushes on girls and on and on and on. So sex is biology, and gender is like social, it's the social idea around what that means. And so yeah, it stands to reason there are a lot of genders, there are a lot of different ways that we can be in our gender. And so, for me as a trans person the typical narratives often for trans people is that you're born in one gender and then at some point you realize oh wait that's not me and then you transition to that other gender. And maybe you have surgery, maybe you take hormones. And you then like socially transition to be the other gender that's the most common narrative, and there are a lot of other narratives. So my personal narrative is, I was born the doctor said I'm female, doctor said this is a girl, and so then I was raised as a girl and lived the first quarter of my life right? Like the first 25 years or so living as a girl and then a woman. And then at some point, I always had kind of a complicated relationship with my body where I felt like sometimes at home in my body sometimes not. I always felt real complicated being a girl and a woman and I definitely didn't fit in with a lot of society's expectations of what it means to be a girl. And I didn't feel very girly. I was what people would call a tomboy. But I mean I didn't feel like a boy or a man either and so when I started meeting trans people, like when I started hearing about, I'd grew up in a tiny, tiny little mountain town in the middle of nowhere and so I was not exposed to much right? And so when I first heard about trans people about transgender, and then when I started meeting my first transgender people right? Then most of the first stories and people that I met was that very kind of binary model, from like someone who was born, the doctor said it's a boy, and then they later grew up and they were like, "Oh wait actually I'm a woman I'm not a boy." or vice-versa someone who's born a girl and later is like, "No I'm a man." And you know from to the other. And that never resonated with me personally for my experience. I definitely resonated on some level, it was like, oh wow people can do this, this is like, something resonated right? But the full story, that story didn't particularly resonate 'cause I was like, well I don't feel like a girl or a woman but I don't feel like a man either and then when I started meeting other non-binary people other genderqueer people and realized, and then started learning about gender theory and that gender is this like social idea, anyway like it's kind of this made-up idea that has a lot of lived reality and similar to very different but similar to the concept of race and that race is like a social category right? Like you can't go down to biology and be like these are the exact differences right? Like it's this social construct. Gender is a social construct based on some biology but like actually not totally related to biology. And so, once I started learning all about that. And all about queer theory gender theory, then I started realizing like oh wow I actually have other options. I have other options of who I can be or who I am. who I am at my core, that's actually like that can be recognized that can be like an option right? And so yeah I started really exploring my own gender playing around with my own gender and really landed in this kind of the one that feels most accurate, the description that feels most accurate to me is non-binary. And to me that I'm very fluid. I have back and forth between all sorts of different genders And yeah, that's pretty much my story. The pronouns that I feel most comfortable with are they, they, them, theirs or he/him/his and I can talk a little bit more about pronouns later if folks are unsure what that means definitely let me know. But yeah, that's kind of my long-winded story. Well short story, and then also with a lot of kind of background information in there too. So I'm curious for other people, anybody on this stream who identifies as trans or gender non-conforming in any way if you wanna add anything about your experience. And anybody else like what do you wanna know? What do you wanna know about gender? What are your questions? Welcome if you're just joining us. My name is Roan Coughtry, we're doing and asked me anything about gender stream. And as long as it's respectful, as long as you ask the questions in a respectful way questions are awesome, we really want this to be a space to learn and not feel afraid to ask questions. So, I'm gonna catch up on the chat a little bit. Jessica asked this came up at work yesterday, does a trans man develop an Adam's apple when they take testosterone? That is a great question. Oh and then later you say sorry a trans person. That's great I love that you corrected that, because yeah any trans person can take testosterone and may or may not identify as a man. That is a great question and actually one that I would wanna double check and look into. I am pretty sure that no. The vocal cords for sure change. So when someone takes testosterone, one of the first things that happens is it lowers the voice. And so, the person's voice might drop an octave or two or just drop the way it would during puberty for anyone who has a lot of testosterone in their system during puberty. And so the vocal cords for sure change. And they also like the neck will get thicker like a lot of shifts will happen in the body itself. And I know that that will change the shape of the neck and definitely change the structure of the vocal cords as they expand and deepen. I don't think the actual Adam's apple will develop, and I am actually not entirely clear what the Adam's apple is to begin with and so I am NOT the expert on that question, I am so sorry. But that's something I wanna look up that's a very like particular question that I don't know the answer to either. I'm curious if anybody else on the stream does know. But yeah, thank you for asking that. Hey! Jonathan is so good to have you on here Murph. Thank you so much for joining, real basic question, yes I love real basic questions. What does gender mean? So yeah I talked a little bit about that. Did what I talked about already answer your question I don't wanna be repeating anything, if I already answered your questions I know I was rambling for a little bit there and I'm so happy to talk more in depth about it. Because yeah, it's not that obvious right? And like the way it gets tossed around in language can be confusing for sure. So yeah, let me know quick if I already answered that question in my rambles or if you want a little more like concise or clear. Jessica is saying you're echoing yesterday's discussion we couldn't figure it out. Yeah that's so interesting. I don't think I've ever figured out what the Adam's apple is to begin with so yeah, I wanna google it, I wanna find out and see what it actually is. But yeah I do actually wanna geek out a little bit more again about this difference between sex and gender and gender identity okay. Yeah, somewhere if you're saying it helped, I'm still a tad confused about gender vis a vis social construct, if I understood you correctly. Is it just a matter of acting / dressing a certain way? Awesome yes, okay perfect. So yeah, gender basically the what gender theory and queer theory talk about is that gender is a social constructs, like it is just a made-up idea. Based on biology right? So biology, you know, there's males, there's females there's intersex people. So those are kind of the three main categories of sex of biological sexes, males, female intersex folks. And so then gender, is like this social construct that gets put on top of those categories. And typically only on top of male and female because there's like a blanket lack of recognition for intersex folks right? You don't hear about them that often, we're not told, if a child is born intersex it's often treated like this really shameful thing of like Oh keep it hush-hush we don't want people to know. And often there's this really terrible practice of surgically correcting a child who is born intersex to like make them fit into male or female. And so, there's a lot of intersex rights groups activist groups that are like hey, there's nothing wrong with being intersex. Like it is another way of being in the world why are you trying to correct us and put us into one of these two categories. So that's sex, and then gender is the social contract that's put on top of it. And so, like an example of what happens. A baby is born like with a penis and the X Y chromosomes and is told okay, you're a boy because of this, because of this Anatomy you're a boy. And then, there's all the like social stuff that then happens around gender. So boys wear blue. The way boys are treated as children like maybe allowed to roughhouse a little bit more or expected to roughhouse a little bit more. The toys that they're given, the movies that they're encouraged to watch. The socialization that happens around, oh boys don't cry. Babies cry but then at a certain point boys don't cry anymore. Like girls might still be able to cry and show emotion but boys don't cry anymore. And then there's all these social norms around like who you're supposed to be attracted to as a boy or as a man. All of these things. So that's gender, all of that is wrapped up in gender. So then gender identity is actually like one's own understanding of who they are. So my gender that I was assigned and raised with is, was for a long time girl. My gender identity at some point I realized like wait that really doesn't resonate that actually really doesn't fit Who I am. And so, at one point then I was like, okay my gender identity. No, actually I'm trans, actually I'm non-binary and that's my gender identity. So yeah, like you're saying matter of acting and dressing in a certain way all of that is gender. The way we present ourselves to the world, the way we understand ourselves in our gender, that's all gender. As separate from like biological sex. Does that make sense? Is that a little more clear? So happy for other folks to jump in too and share their own experiences. That's kind of the like queer theory and gender theory ideas around it. I'm gonna scroll back up and catch up on the chats. Jessica, Annetes. Okay no updates about the Adam's apple question, all right cool, Oh Britt also googled it. Okay, according to a quick Quora answer. HRT which is Hormone Replacement Therapy it's what a lot of trans folks do. Talk a little bit more about that in a minute. HRT wouldn't be effective in growing an Adam's apple if started at puberty, interesting. So HRT would need to be started earlier to develop those secondary sex characteristics. Okay, that was kind of what I was thinking. Okay, and Chelsea's weighing in too. Coming from working in the medical field, awesome. Thank You Chelsea so glad you're here. Trans folks on T, will not typically develop an Adam's apple okay that's what I thought. The Adam's apple is a thickened portion of the larynx that is typically more pronounced in biologically male people. Bio male people are more predisposed to thickening of the larynx, which is why starting HRT typically won't create that. Awesome, okay perfect. That's kind of what I was thinking of it was this developed early in life by folks who are biologically male assigned and through puberty all those things happen and that. So HRT later on wouldn't actually create that. Cool, thank you, thank you I really appreciate that. Appreciate knowing that answer. yes so also for anyone who doesn't know HRT, Hormone Replacement Therapy is something that a lot of trans folks do so I was assigned girl growing up and decided no I'm trans. I could decide to go on testosterone, since my body does make some testosterone it doesn't make as much as someone who's a born male. And so I could take testosterone as a hormone often by injection, sometimes by gel. There's now a little like implants things that you can get every few months, there's a lot of options around that and taking testosterone would change a lot of things around my body right? So it would lower my voice, it would change the structure of my body and some what I would gain more muscle and lose the percent like a certain percentage of body fat. So like certain shapes of things would change, eventually over time I would grow facial hair and hair and other parts of my body and a lot of these kind of secondary sex characteristics. And then on the flip side folks who are male assigned male at birth might decide to take testosterone blockers to take estrogen or progesterone and that would also come with shifts and changes in the body. Certain like softening of facial features softening in terms of less muscle mass and more body fat composition all these kinds of things. Starting to grow breasts and breast tissue. And so that is Hormone Replacements Therapy, HRT, for short. Some people do, some people don't. At this point I am NOT doing any HRT, I have my own personal reasons for that. I have some interest in it and at this point the noes outweigh the yeses in terms of what I'm interested in. I also have not had any surgeries. Trans-masculine folks will often like folks transitioning toward more masculine will often have top surgery meaning like surgery to remove breast tissue and flatten the chest, and there's a lot of other surgeries too for a trans masculine or trans feminine people and at this point for me personally, I'm not doing any of that and it's something I could do down the road but again there's so many options and so many variations of how to be trans, on how to be genderqueer and on binary all of these things. Cool, cool, cool. All right so Murph you're saying, "It's clearer thanks, "may have some more questions to follow up." Awesome. "This conversation is actually somewhat related to my research on the law and moral philosophy." Cool, yeah, I'm so glad it's interesting and related and yeah keep the questions coming. All right yeah, if you're just joining us my name is Roan Coughtry, we were talking about ask me anything about gender. So truly ask me anything, anything that you're curious about not knowing is not a bad thing so this is the place to ask the questions that you wanna know, and as long as you're respectful, just be respectful about it. So judgment-free, just wanting to know information. So yeah, what else? What else do you all wanna know about gender? In your own exploration of your own gender, wanting to better support a trans or genderqueer loved one. What do you wanna know? What do you wanna know? Chelsea any more amazing medical tidbits that you have, from your amazing medical background? What else, what else, what else? I can talk a little bit about all the different terms. And I'd love to hear from other people because I know there's terms that I haven't even heard yet. But, so terms like transgender we just talked a lot about transgender. We talked a lot about non-binary. I mentioned the words gender queer and gender fluid. so gender queer, is another way of saying like not a man not a woman something else. Gender fluid is what it sounds like you know being fluid between genders. It's important to note that not all trans people identify as genderqueer or non-binary. A lot of trans people identify as a man or a woman right? A man or a woman with a trans experience. And not all genderqueer and non-binary people identify as trans, so I am non-binary and I also identify as trans. But not everybody does. So some non-binary, some gender queer folks identify as genderqueer right? And not as transgender. So again, we can identify in so many different ways and not all things are the same thing or are related. Other words that are out there, things like by gender, tri gender meaning like two genders or three genders. Pan gender, pan is this very like expansive term, so pan gender can mean like I'm all genders or I'm cross gender in all ways, I cross the gender spectrum in all ways. Gender free, gender fucking. Third gender, it's actually really exciting some IDs in other countries, I know in Thailand they now offer a third gender option on IDs on like government identification so you can identify as male female or a third gender, in their language of course and that's just so badass and radical and I'm so excited about that. And I know certain states are moving toward that too, oh I wish a dear friend of mine was on this stream right now, because she knows a lot about the government ID she works for National Center for Trans Equality and I think there's some states that maybe already have added a third gender option on their state IDs, like driver's licenses. If anybody knows, Chelsea I know through the Grapevine in DC if you know anything about this or anybody else if you know if some states have actually passed that yet. Because that's really exciting to me. I would definitely identify as a third gender if that was an option, on all those damn boxes where you have to check male or female. Androgynous, some people identify as agender meaning like, "I'm just I'm not doing gender at all." Another term that you might hear is the term two-spirit. That is a indigenous umbrella term for the variance of gender and sexual identities found across Native American tribes since forever. And in general, two-spirit people are actually really revered and respected, within indigenous communities, within indigenous cultures. It's not like modern Western, "Oh trans oh my god you must be weird you must be a freak." It's not othered and feared that way. Two-spirit people have historically actually been celebrated for that ability to like see across gender in that way. The term two-spirit, the term itself is fairly new it was coined in the 1990s as this unifying term across tribes, since each tribe had their own, obviously each tribe had their own language. And then had their own terms. And so two-spirit was folks coming together and being like, "Okay let's pick a unifying term "to kind of bring together all of these terms." And a really important note on this term, it is not a term that anyone can use unless they identify as indigenous. It may sound like a really like, "Oh that just sounds like it resonates." And it's only for folks who are also culturally indigenous who are Native American, because it's not just a term about gender it's a term about culture too. And so cannot separate those. I've heard some white folks identifying as two-spirit and with no Native American background or ancestry or any of that, and it's not cool it's not okay, it's a very culturally specific term. We have lots of other terms we can choose from so a little note about that. But those are some other terms that are out there if you've heard of others, and you're like, "What does that mean?" Ask, now is the time to ask. Murph, okay more questions. Chelsea what do you wanna know? Yes I'll think about, yeah I think if there's anything else specific that I wanna know, but anybody else you might wanna post some like specific medical questions we have Chelsea. So Murph, question about. Okay, so this is more along the lines of sexuality. "But it seems to me the binary nature of sexuality "isn't complete right. "For example, I am straight but there are a list of guys "I totally have sex with. "Yes, Ryan Reynolds for example." To be continued, I love this. Yeah totally. "So is it all a spectrum, and even the language "we're using here in this conversation "not sufficient, know what I mean. "there's a lot of details we're glossing over "in the conversation, in Virginia there's options." Oh okay, now your that's about the state forms, cool yeah, so yes. Beyond this idea of binary that is so true, so sexuality also absolutely exists outside of this binary of like either straight or gay or either like straight or queer. I definitely believe that it's such a fluid spectrum, I'm actually gonna copy a link to, this concept of the gender bred person that isn't perfect but it can be really useful in kind of distinguishing all of these different Spectrum's that exist. And so yes, so sexuality absolutely. Like you're saying, I'm straight I identify as straight and there's totally this list of guys that I would totally have sex with. That's what the spectrum is about right, so again we live in this world that wants to just like put things in two little boxes and then pit them against each other and people are just so much more complicated than that. Like binaries almost never work. And so absolutely, I think Kinsey, the researcher Kinsey was one of the first to start talking about sexuality in terms of a spectrum. In terms of like okay you're straight on one end and you so you're attracted to like the opposite sex 100% completely all the time on one end. And then you're on the other end you're like totally completely gay you're only ever attracted to the opposite sex. And even that right, if there are so many genders and sexes like what is opposite even mean? If it's not a binary there's no such thing as opposite like I don't know what it would mean for me to be attracted to the opposite sex or opposite gender, because I'm not at one point of the spectrum so there is no like opposite to me, I could just be attracted to like this gender or this gender or this gender or this gender. Or even if I'm being attracted to my own gender, it's so unique that like I can't even really talk about that. But yeah, yes and like Jessica's saying just now on Kinsey's original scale it's pretty much impossible to be 100% of either one, I would argue. Of yeah, like you're saying like okay I identify as straight but totally like Ryan Reynolds comes and hits on me like yo I'm down you know. And so like, so then there's like I know Kinsey would have these different points on the scale, whether you're like closer to straight or closer to gay. And same with gender a lot of people talk about it in terms of this gender spectrum. So you're either transgender or cisgender is another term I haven't said yet. Cisgender basically shorthand means not trans, or not genderqueer. So cisgender is the majority of people who are out there, who it's kind of a similar word to like straight. We talked about gay and lesbian, we need a word for straight. So we talk about transgender queer, we need a word for cisgender. So for people who still agree with the gender that they were assigned, the doctor said it's a boy and throughout your life you're like yeah no I'm a boy I'm a man. Vice versa, doctor says it's a girl throughout your life you're like no that feels right I'm a girl, I'm a woman, that's cisgender. And so even with so there's can be a spectrum, a spectrum kind of theory around cisgender to transgender and then all these other, or sorry. No, actually the spectrum is male is typically talked about as male and female. And then you can be all these genders in between male and female. And the spectrum is a great model and a lot of people actually break outside of like even beyond that spectrum idea, since spectrum is such a linear model. Like linear between two points, between male and female or between gay and straight. A lot of people are like you know I'm off that line entirely like I'm not between male and female, I'm actually like this over here. Or like, "I'm not between gay and straight "I'm like this over here." And looking at it more like a galaxy or a constellation or a more three-dimensional thing. So this gender bred person, there's been a lot of different variations and updates on this gender bred person, and it lists things like gender identity and gender expression and biological sex in terms of kind of like, not even so much spectrums anymore but in terms of like okay what percentage of feminine or masculine do you feel? What percentage of like femaleness or maleness. Again, it's not perfect because there really is no perfect way to describe any of this especially since we're talking about social constructs. A social construct is kind of like a made-up thing at the end of the day. and yet it's a made-up thing that runs so much of our society right? Like any gender based thing is like has a lot of impact in our society and so it's made up but it really controls a lot in our culture and so we're trying to break out of these ideas and expand and be creative with them, while they still hold a lot of weight. So yeah, just catching up on, oh yeah so Jessica sharing on Kinsey's original scale pretty much impossible to be 100% straight because one of the questions was have you had homosexual dreams. Yeah, and it's really common I would say like the vast majority of people even who identify as straight still have at least some semblance of like seeing someone of the same sex and being like, oh they're hot. Or, like anything from as mild as like oh my god yeah they're super fine to like damn yeah I would totally have sex with them to like actually having sex and sexual encounters with folks of the same sex and still identifying as straight and all of its beautiful and great like and it just really speaks to the fluidity of so much of this. Maybe that's the main takeaway, is just like our society tries to categorize all these things that at the end of the day are so fluid they're just so fluid. Murph is saying, anyone who wouldn't be down to fuck with Ryan Reynolds is either lying to us or to themselves. I love it I totally I yes I want Ryan Reynolds too, somehow find you and have this happen. So yeah, I'm gonna catch up a little bit more on the threads so Brandon is sharing, "What I find remarkable about gender "is when it is thought about above the mundane alchemical "on that level it's more of a word for creation "so one's gender in that sense is one's creation "swearing the circle and whatnot." I would love to hear a little bit more about that Brandon I feel like there's a lot there and I'm really curious to know your thoughts about like, yeah about creation what you mean by creation in this context, and squaring the circle yeah. Yeah, I feel like oh so much of it is about this fluidity about like really trying to yeah, box in things that are not boxable. But we're humans and we love to categorize shit because it like makes us feel safe and makes us feel like we have some control over things. So, we like to label and put in their place and also a means of social control. We could geek out for a long time around the ways that gender has been created and enforced as a means of control, and social control over swathes of a population. And really rigid like we can talk absolutely about patriarchy and about the systemic power that men hold over women in our society, just as like what's systemically handed to them. And all that way is the depression, that gender oppression really most primarily impacts like women and trans and gender non-conforming people. And at the end of the day we can talk for hours about how rigid gender roles hurt everybody. Like how many boys and men are fucked over because of that damn gender norms. Like men don't cry, boys don't cry. You don't show affection with your friends like show like a punch on the shoulder. You don't cuddle. And you're supposed to always initiate the attraction or the romance or the dating with girls. It's like all these really rigid norms. And then on the flip side, like all the rigid norms that girls face. All the rigid norms that all humans face it would like around these genders that we had no say over right? Like we were born and the doctors just like, "Oh that's what you are." It's not like we have a say in it. And so if I grow up loving trucks and frilly dresses and liking to ask people out and wanting to date, like if I grow up with my own natural inclinations towards things some of them are gonna be encouraged and others are gonna be like pushed out of me because that's not what my gender is supposed to do. And that harms everybody, that really harms everybody. Jessica is sharing, "Exactly I thought that was hilarious "even my mom said she wouldn't turn Rachel McAdams down." Yeah right so like even the straightest of straight, straight, straight people probably a little bit you know something right? And it's yeah, it just goes to show how binaries really don't work. I have yet to really, really see a binary that works it's effective. And also so yeah we're bringing in some important differences too, so we've talked about biological sex is one thing. It's like Anatomy, chromosomes all that. Gender is the social construct that's then put on top of that. And then sexuality is a third thing. So gender and sexuality are also very different. Sexuality is about attraction. It's about the capacity to experience erotic attraction, arousal all of those things. It's a sexuality, sexual drive, sexual urges and that's where categories of like sexual orientation fit in, sexual identities. So, gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, asexual so not experiencing sexual arousal or attraction. All of those labels fit under sexuality. Whereas, labels like transgender and genderqueer and non-binary and all of those like gender labels those fit under gender. Which understandably confuses a lot of people because when we talk about like the queer community we talk about LGBTQ, we're talking about two actually pretty different categories. So lesbian, LGBTQ let's break that down. Lesbian, gay, bisexual that's all sexuality. T, trans that's gender that's different. Queer can be anything, you can be like queer in your sexuality you can be queer in your gender. Queer kind of crosses all categories. And then I is often a one of the alphabet, alphabet soup letters that's added in, that's intersex which is also different, right. That's like been a third category, it's that's more biological sex which can relate to trans that can relate to gender but not always, and really says nothing about your sexuality. So even this like LGBTQ QIA, all of that spectrum is talking about three distinct categories. It's talking about sexuality, it's talking about gender and it's talking about sex. So understandably, a lot of people are like what the fuck is the difference? I don't what? And so fun fact around that too. One says nothing about the other. So my gender says nothing about my sexuality. So you can be a cisgender man and be straight or gay or bisexual or queer. You can be a transgender man and be straight or gay or bisexual or queer. You can be non-binary like me, non-binary trans person and I can be attracted to men or women or other trans folks or all genders. So gender, whatever your gender is doesn't say anything about who you're attracted to. And who you're attracted to doesn't say anything about your gender. Let me know if that makes sense, but those are just distinct categories, you can be any gender and then you can be attracted to whoever you're attracted to, there's no like right or wrong. Even though Society wants to tell us that there are. Thank you for joining hi everybody, if you're just joining us we're wrapping up we're actually getting toward the ends. My name is Roan Coughtry we are talking about gender, ask me anything about gender. We've got time for a couple more questions if anybody has some more to talk about. And if you're liking what you hear please show a little love tip on the tip jar I screw this up every time, I try to say it, click. There we go I'll say click on the top jar, click on the tip jar. I'm still messing it up. Anyway, if you have a little extra to give, you can click on the jar and share a tip. You can tip in five dollar increments as many times as you want, it's one of the ways that we keep O. school operating and keep all of this content accessible and free to people around the world. And yeah, it really helps us to keep doing the work that we love doing, and it is by no means mandatory, we really just love that you're here. Murph is sharing, "I really appreciate this conversation "especially as someone who comes from "a moderately socially conservative background." Yes, I love that, thank you so much for joining. I think one of the one of the juiciest things for me is when yeah, people from more kind of socially conservative backgrounds are engaging in this stuff and are asking the questions. And I mean we talked a little bit about this before of just like there can be such a shutdown. And when I was talking earlier in the stream, there can be this stigma against not knowing right? It's like oh you don't know about this, whatever, you must not be on board with it. That's almost like shaming people for not knowing when we all don't know all sorts of things right? Like none of us can know everything. And it's really important to be able to ask questions. It's really important to know who is open to receiving your questions. Like we shouldn't be walking around feeling all entitled to answers and just asking questions to anybody because a lot of people really rightfully don't wanna be answering these questions, and or are exhausted from having to answer these questions every day and so that kind of respect is really important. And that's why also I love doing streams like this, is to give people a space to ask the questions that we don't know how to ask or we don't wanna be rude by asking them, we don't wanna be offensive. For the most part people are real well intentioned, and yeah that's why I'm holding this. Is to give space for folks to get answers that they genuinely want the answers to. So yeah, thank you so much for joining that really warms my heart. Jessica is asking, "Did you notice a shift "in how we were treated in society "going from femme presenting to non-binary? Thank you for that question, I totally did. Yeah, you know I knew how to navigate the world as a woman and I kind of like went through the motions. Now that I'm non-binary I am read all sorts of different ways, it depends on what I'm wearing, it depends on my energy it depends on where I am. Bathrooms are all sorts of fun because for the most part now I tend to get much more like second glances and weird looks in the women's restroom, than I do in the men's, so I usually use the men's restroom because it's just less of a hassle. But like yeah in general I never know how anybody's gonna read me on any given day whether I'm gonna get sir'd or ma'am's. And it also depends on how I dress right? If I'm like dressed more masculine or more feminine on a given day. The biggest difference that I noticed was when I started having moments of like passing or of being read as a man. The way like literally walking down the street, this was one of the first things I noticed. When I walk down the street and people were reading me as a woman or like when I was living as a woman for a really long time or a girl. I'd walk down the street and no one would move that like I would step out of the way. Like if someone else is walking toward me like I would kind of step out of the way whatever, whatever. If I like stayed right on course and a guy was walking toward me or a group of guys or a group of people, they wouldn't move out of the way usually yeah usually men, like they wouldn't move out of the way. And so I would like have to move out of the way or I would like literally run into them. When I started being read more often as male as a guy just literally walking down the street I would notice people moving out of the way for me and especially women. I would notice women stepping out to like give me room to move through. So little differences like that, just the way I'm treated. Interacting with men who are reading me as a man is fascinating because that's obviously really different than if they were reading me as a woman. The language changes, the tone changes, it's a little more like hey bro. That's fascinating and now specifically as non-binary that's a really great question. What I mostly notice around the non-binary is people just being real confused. And I tend to have a very like warm welcoming personality and so that hasn't shifted how people interact with me that much. Like people, as soon as I open my mouth or make eye contact and like people feel a little more like, okay well this is a human and they're warm and smiley and whatever. And so, that hasn't shifted. But in terms of the like, there's been a lot of like double takes, a lot of like oh my god people are real cute when they think that they have misgendered me. Which is weird 'cause basically they're misgendering me unless they know what non-binary is and then see me as a non-binary person. Like they're calling me she they're misgendering me if they're calling he that's not so much but they're probably still reading me as a binary man and so it's weird. But when people misgender me it's often. Or when people think that they've misgendered me. So when they say, "Oh yeah thank you sir, or excuse me sir." And then they'll like look closer and then they'll be like, "Oh wait is this a woman and I just said sir?" And then they get so freaked out and apologetic and they're like, "Oh my god I'm so, so, so sorry, "oh my god I'm so sorry I'm so sorry." And they get so deeply uncomfortable and I'm like Oh sweetie, you actually got it right the first time. You have no idea. And they normally have no idea because you have no context for queerness or trans folks. You've probably never met a trans person it's okay. But like it just it speaks to how deep, how deeply were ingrained to get gender right, like that's one of the first assessments that we make of a person. We see someone and one of the first unconscious like automatic assumptions we make is like, oh are they a man or a woman? Are they male or female? And then it speaks to how much we're taught to stay within these really rigid confines of gender because in like regular everyday life, being misgendered is considered one of the deepest insults. Like if you're a woman and someone thinks you're a man then oh my god that must mean, you're so ugly, you're doing womanhood all wrong if people think you're a man and vice versa. If you're a man and someone thinks you're a woman oh my god that's like taking away your masculinity card you must be doing masculinity all wrong, it's like one of the biggest insults. I remember actually when I was, I think maybe eight years old and I was going to get a Christmas tree with my family and I was there with my brother. My parents were there we were all bundled up in winter garb, and the guy selling us the tree knew my dad and he was like, "Oh how are your boys doing?" And referring to me and my brother. And at the time I thought I was a girl, everyone said I was supposed to be a girl. I remember feeling mortified I was like, "Oh god this guy "just asked how are your boys doing, he thinks I'm a boy." And I felt so ugly. Like I really felt oh my god I must be doing something wrong because he can't even tell that I'm a little girl. And now in hindsight I look back on that moment with so much pride and love, of like oh maybe that guy was actually on to something maybe he picked up an energy about me or something, and maybe that guy actually saw me more accurately than everybody else was seeing me at the time. So in hindsight I look back with so much fondness for that memory. It's so much like oh my god that's kind of magical. But at the time because I was so brainwashed in this gender if like I'm a girl I'm supposed to be a girl, I'm supposed to do girl right? I was so mortified because it just meant like oh my god, I must be doing it wrong, I must be failing at this social thing. It's a bit of a tangent but you know, it's speaking to how a deep gender can be ingrained. Yeah, thank you for your questions that was a really good question Jessica, thank you for that. We're a little bit over, it's a little after two o'clock so I'm gonna wrap up. But thank you so much for everybody who is here for all your questions. Thank You Brit for your amazing moderation. And as Britt shared this is all my contact info you can find me on social media at Roan Coughtry. My websites you can email me if you have other questions. I do one on one coaching as well and I do some ally ship coaching too. so if you're looking to just be a better ally to folks in your life, I'm available for that. If you're exploring your own gender I'm available for that. Hit me up and yeah thank you so much for joining. Again if you have any extra to share click on the little gift jar not mandatory at all. And we always appreciate whatever folks are able to give. And yeah, follow me on social media keep track of my schedule, I'm doing more live streams each week. so yeah thank you all so much this is really wonderful so great to see so many of you. Thank You Brandon always nice to see you too. Thank You Jessica for joining. Thank You Chelsea for your medical knowledge. Thank You Marsh for your wonderful thoughtful questions, and Britt you're such an amazing moderator thank you so much it's been so good to have you. All right well thank you, thank you, thank you everybody enjoy your day.

All About Gender

Mar 22, 2018
2:00 pm
Thursday, March 22, 2018
2:00 pm

Curious about gender? Not sure of the difference between trans, nonbinary, genderqueer, cisgender, and all the other terms you hear? Want to better support a trans loved one? Join Roan for an hour of candid Q&A.