Who Are We? The Basics Of Sexual Identity

Cis, trans, heterosexual, gay, genderqueer, gender non-binary — you’ve probably heard these terms thrown around, but things can get a bit confusing with so many on the table. 

In this stream, Dr. Yoni Alkan, a doctor of human sexuality who identifies as a cis-hetero man, will explain some terms that can describe a person’s sexual identity, 

First, he breaks down sexual identity into six criteria: biosex, sexual attraction, romantic attraction, gender roles, gender identities, and sexual behavior.  Here is the criteria explained in layman's terms: 

1. Biosex

This is the sex you were assigned at birth based on your chromosomes, hormones, external characteristics, gonads, and internal organs. Most people are assigned male or female, but a small minority may be intersex, meaning their genitalia aren’t clearly male or female. 

2. Sexual Orientation

This is who you’re attracted to sexually. You may be attracted to people of your own gender (homosexual), the opposite gender (heterosexual), both genders (bisexual), or neither (asexual). Sexual orientation is a spectrum, so many of us exist somewhere in between, though we may be closer to one end or the other. 

3. Romantic attraction 

This is who we’d like to build a relationship with. This doesn’t necessarily coincide with sexual orientation because, as Dr. Alkan says, you might want to build a relationship with one gender but have sex with both genders or a person who is gender-nonconforming, etc.  

4. Gender

Dr. Alkan first points out that gender is a made up social construct. Gender is the traits society expects a person of a certain biosex to possess and present. Gender roles are how we present those traits, and ourselves, to society and how society expects us to act. 

5. Gender Identity 

Gender Identity is how we feel on the inside. This may or may not coincide with our gender assigned at birth. If it does, you may identify as cisgender. If it doesn’t, you may identify as transgender. Some people who are transgender may change their outside selves, with surgery, hormones, etc., to match the gender they feel on the inside. You could also be gender-nonconforming, meaning you’re gender fluid and might change your gender. If you’re agendered, you do not conform to any of those genders. 

6. Sexual behavior

This is the ways and frequencies at which you like to have sex with other people. You could love having many sexual partners, or you might enjoy having just one partner for long periods of time. Your sexual behaviors may exist in between and change over time. 

All of these terms can be helpful ways to describe your identity if you feel the need to define it. It’s also totally okay to throw them all away and just be you, with no defining terms attached. Take what serves you and leave the rest behind.

Video transcript

So, I think we're gonna start. I'm gonna let you know a little bit about myself. I'm Doctor Yoni Alkan. I'm a sexual educator and sexual consultant here, in lovely San Francisco. I am also a professional cuddler. I do one-on-one cuddling with cuddlist.com, and I also run cuddle parties with cuddleparty.com. I am the creator of elementsofsexuality.com, which is a great website with a lot of funny and fun ideas about sexuality, how to learn about sexuality. It's really great. You should check it out. And I am also the author of The Book of Cuddles where you can find it in thebookofcuddles.com, which is a new book, which is an instructional for cuddling. But, today, we are going to talk about sexual identity. And, basically, what does it mean? How do we identify? What does it mean about my identity? Certain criteria that we'd like to examine within ourselves, in order for us to understand what our identity comprises of. And, before I get into that, and give you the six different criteria for our sexual identity, I'd like to make a few disclaimers, and for you to know a little bit about myself. I define myself as a cisgendered, heterosexual man, which, if you don't know what those words mean, you're exactly in the right place, because we're gonna talk exactly about that. But what that means is that I'm a cisgendered, heterosexual man, that means that I have a certain point of view. I have certain life experiences, and I've seen the world from certain point of view, and that means that other people might have other points of view, and that's great. And they might have other experiences that they can share with us, and that is fantastic. I wanna hear your experiences. That means that I am a part of the majority of the population, but I'm talking about the majority of the population, but also about different minority groups, different minorities in the population. And, while I am sure that someone from those groups can have different point of views and can say more about their experiences, and I would love to promote that voice, and I would love for them to voice them, that means that I have a detached, external point of view. That could also be a pro. That could also be something good, a merit if you look at it that way. And that means that I will be able to talk about this subject from an external point of view, and break it down really logically, in the way that I can see it. Yeah, so, in a sense, I have kind of a detached point of view about this subject, because of my life experience. So, it's important for me that you know that, but, now that you do, let's start talking about sexual identities. Now, in order for us to talk about sexual identities, I wanna quick detour and talk about terms. What are terms? What are the pros and cons of using certain terms? Now, when we say a word, when we say a certain term or something, let's say, I like to use this example, cause it's really simple and everyone can understand it, let's say I say the word table. When I say the word table, something up here is in your mind. There's a certain image of a table that appears in your mind. It's kind of like, don't think about the pink elephant. Oh! Now's there's a pink elephant in your mind, right? So, when I tell you, when I say the word table, a certain image of a table appears in your mind. Now, when I was saying the word table, I was thinking of a specific, low coffee table, which is painted purple and has three legs. Was that the table that you were thinking about? I highly doubt it. But we were both thinking about tables. And that's a great opportunity to talk about the advantages and disadvantages of using terms. So, I didn't have to go into the dictionary and read out the whole definition of the word table to you in order to convey that idea. All I needed to do is say the word table, and you had that concept in your mind. That's how language works, and that's fantastic. It's really useful. It's a great shortcut. But, when I said table, I meant a different type of table. I meant the three-legged, purple coffee table, and you were thinking of a different table. I don't know what table you were thinking of cause it's in your mind. And that's the thing, that's the crux of the problem, because that means that we can talk about general ideas, but you will not be able to understand the specific table that I'm talking about unless you ask me. I will not know what table you're thinking about unless I ask you, and you start to describe that table. So, we have to understand that using terms is really helpful. It's a great tool. We are able to communicate really easily, but we have to remember that these tools are kind of a double-edged sword, cause they are very general. In the end, we wanna talk about a specific individual. I wanna talk about you, and just as much as I'd like you to talk about me. So, we want to be as specific as we can and ask each other questions in a very polite and nice way. So, that's really a thing to keep in mind throughout this whole hour, to think about concepts and terms when we talk about sexual identity, because we're gonna talk about terms. So we have to remember that they are great to define ideas, but, ultimately, we need to think about every specific case, individually, and they are different. So, let's get to what we are here for today. So, today, we are talking about sexual identity, and I like to say that, when we have an ID card, it gives us all sorts of information about us. If you're a role player, Dungeons and Dragons and stuff like that, then you have your character sheet, and every characteristic is a little different and kind of says something about you, right? How much charisma do you have? How much strength do you have? Stamina, and so on. And that's kind of a little bit of what I think about when I think about sexual identification in the sense that these are all sorts of criteria that defines who we are. When we describe those criteria, it can help people understand where we're coming from, what are our preferences, and who we are. It doesn't necessarily mean exactly who you are unless you ask further questions, but it gives a good idea. So, these six criteria that I'm gonna talk about, these ideas kind of define us, helps people understand who we are. So, they're gonna be, the six are going to be, first of all, sex, that is, biosex, not the act of sex, sexual attraction, romantic attraction, gender roles, gender identities, and our sexual behavior. So, don't worry if you didn't catch all of those six, I'm gonna go over them, one by one, and we're gonna talk about each and every one of them. So, I'm gonna start off by talking about sex. Yes. That's what we do here. We talk about sex, right? We talk about sexual activity, but, now I don't wanna talk about sexual activity, I wanna talk about biosex. What is the sex that my body is? A lot of people will talk about males and females, that's the general population. That's the majority of the population is in that binary of either male or female. And when a baby is born, the doctor holds that baby, and picks them up, and looks at them, and say, "Oh, I see a penis on that baby. "That means that they're male. "So I'm gonna say, 'Congratulations, it's a boy!'" And, all of a sudden, swoop, bong, they just stamped an identity on that newborn. And, just by looking and seeing a penis or a vulva, they will say, "All right, that new human "is male or female." That's great. That's a, once again, it's a really good rule of thumb, and really easy to go at, and, oh, yeah, usually, that's the case. That's for sure. The majority, the vast majority of people are, in that sense, male or female. But, notice I'm saying, "majority." There is a small group of people, well, maybe it's not that small, because there are a lot of elements to it, and I'll explain myself in a second, that are called intersex. And intersex is basically someone who does not, 100%, crispy defined as either male or female. And that is something really interesting to take a look at. So, there are five criteria that define what biosex we are. It's not just genitals. There are five different criteria that define who we are, sexually, in, I mean, biosex. So, those five criteria are chromosomes, hormones, external characteristics, gonads, and internal organs. So I will go over them, one by one, and explain what I mean. So, usually, when we talk about the binary, we talk male and female. When we talk about chromosomes, we mean that males have XY chromosomes and females have XX chromosomes. And that's it. That's easy. Great! But, what if you have a different set of chromosomes? What if you have XXY? What if you have you look like, you know, the doctor pulled the baby out, and they have a penis, that's it, they're male, but what if that male has XX chromosomes, they just have a penis? Well, now you have someone who's intersex, someone who does not 100% align to one side. So that was chromosomes. We got XY and XX, but we have every combination or alternatives to those. The next is hormones. There are female hormones and male hormones, and we have both of them in our bodies, it's just a matter of amount. So it's the amount of estrogen that you have and the amount of testosterone that you have and other hormones that have more, sorry, that females have and males have more, and it's basically a matter of levels, how much of a certain hormone you have. So, once again, you might be someone who was identified as male, because you have a penis, but let's say that you have a high level of estrogen in your blood. Does that mean that you're a male? No, that might mean that you're intersex. Again, you kind of have to look more and more into that. So, the next thing is external characteristics, which is primary and secondary sexual characteristics. So, let's use that example again. We are talking about, because of that baby has a penis, then the doctor says that they're male. Is that necessarily correct? I don't know, it depends on the internal organs and the other characteristics. So, the external characteristics are our primary and secondary sexual characteristics. So that can be genitals. It could be breasts, if they are enlarged or not. It could be hair. It could be body odor. It could be lower voice box for males. Again, there are many different characteristics in our body. Hips, the width of the hips. Shoulders, again, there are many different characteristics for our body, the way our body looks on the outside, that we define ourselves as male or female, and then, intersex. So, that's the third one, external characteristics. The fourth one is the gonads. When we are really young embryos, we have gonads, and during week six to eight, somewhere around there, in the womb, the embryo either gets a surge of testosterone, or it does not. If it gets that surge of testosterone, it's starting the path towards changing that embryo into a male embryo. If it does not, it stays a female embryo, and it continues to develop into a female embryo. And that is really cool, because that means that a lot of the different external genitals that we have, basically come from the same organs. So, for instance, the vulva's labia closes up if there's that surge of testosterone and becomes the scrotum. And, actually, people with scrotums, you can take a look in the mirror and see that there's a seam that goes on the bottom of your scrotum. That's where that labia closed up when you were in the womb. So it's really interesting. The clitoris builds up and becomes the penis. There are different things that happen in our bodies, but what I'm talking, right now, is about the gonads. And the gonads either, if they get the surge of testosterone, they descend and become testes, and become testicles, or, if they don't, they become the ovaries. So, that is another characteristics to define your sex. The last one is, basically, it's internal organs, and it's, basically, it means, do you have a womb or not? What happens to males is a little different, it's something that is related to the urethra, it doesn't really matter. So, basically, it's, do you have a womb or not? So, again, we have those five characteristics that define your biosex. And I'll say them, let's say, for a female, for a 100% female, those five characteristics would be chromosomes, XX. Hormones, a higher level of estrogen and a lower level of testosterone. External characteristics, you will see a vulva and a vagina and, in future years, breasts will develop. Gonads, what happened to the gonads? They turned into ovaries. And internal organs, they will have a uterus. That person will have a uterus. That's what happens when it's 100% female. However, each one of those characteristics can be a little bit off, or on the other spectrum, and then that person might be defined as intersex. And, that is a really good question, because some of these elements are on a spectrum. So, let's say you have a lot of hormones. What does "a lot" mean? What if you are one point below that "a lot?" What if you have low levels of estrogen and testosterone? Does that mean that you're intersex? Does that mean that you're female? Does that mean you're male? It's more complicated than what we like to think about, but, basically, yes, you have male and female, that is the majority of the population. So, that was intersex, sorry, that was biosex. That's the first characteristics of our sexual identity, and we start with that because it's fairly simple, usually, because most of the population is either male or female, and you, most likely, know your sex, your biosex. So, the next thing we're gonna talk about is sexual orientation. Sexual orientation basically means, who am I attracted to, sexually? Now, I'm gonna use the term gender, which I will define later on. But, generally, that means, am I attracted to my own gender or to the opposite gender? And, it's more complicated than that, but, for now, let's talk about it just that way. In the 50s, there was a researcher called Alfred Kinsey, and he wrote The Kinsey Report, which was very popular at the time. And, Kinsey talked about a scale. He devised a scale between zero and six, and that scale basically was built in order for people to help them understand their sexual attraction. So, they want to ask themselves, are they attracted to their own gender or the opposite gender? So, zero on that scale was set as 100% heterosexual, that means that you are totally just, and only, interested, sexually, in the opposite gender. Six, on the other hand, the other side, was 100% homosexual, that means that you are only interested in your own gender. And three, in the middle, is bisexual, and that means that you are sexually interested in both sides of the spectrum. You are interested, both, in your own gender and the opposite gender. And, again, this is a spectrum between zero, one, two, three, four, five, six. And you can be anywhere on that scale. And you can move on that scale, from hour to hour, from year to year, in your life. People change, and it's important to understand that. So, a big question is, where is most of the population? Well, you'd be surprised, but most of the population is actually at number one. Most of the population are attracted to the opposite gender, but there's a small part of them that is attracted to their own gender. And we can talk about that a lot, but I can kind of mention it, if you're like, "What? "No! I'm not!" Well, then, try to think about it yourself. Think about yourself, think about all sorts of fantasies and thoughts that you've had throughout the years, and you might not have acted upon them because you're not really interested by them, but you might have had fantasies about your own gender. Doesn't mean that you acted upon them, but you might have had those thoughts, and it's okay to have those thoughts. That's the idea. Most people do. If that still doesn't, if you still feel that this does not apply to you, think about it this way, this is actually a quote by George Carlin, who said, "If you are "rubbing," sorry, "If you walked into a room and there was someone there, "and they were hugging and touching you, "and getting you sexually aroused, "and it's a dark room, you don't know who that person is, "and if they switch that light switch on and you see your "own gender, you are, culturally, supposed to go, 'Woah-ah!' "But you felt good about it until you knew that, right?" So, does it really, are you really attracted to that gender or not, maybe yes, or maybe no, but maybe you should also think about the idea that, maybe, be open to the idea that maybe you are just a little bit, and that is absolutely okay. Most humans are. All right, I see Jean G. Thank you, so much, for joining and asking questions. So, let's see, "What if the only thing you have from "the five you mentioned, hormones, for instance, "but after drinking some medicine," that's an interesting question. "What are based on hormones, "medicine that are based on hormones "change your original levels? "Does that mean you are not intersex anymore?" Hi, Oni, sorry I didn't say, "Hello." Hi, Jean G., thank you, so much, for coming in. So, that is a really interesting question because, basically, it goes into the definition of how do you define yourself as intersex or as male or female. We're going back to the subject that we talked about earlier. I do not have an answer for you, because it is the way that you define yourself. I would like to say that intersex people are people who were born and developed in a certain way, but that does not mean that if someone... That doesn't mean that I think someone is wrong if they say, "I have changed my hormone levels "and, now, I would like to call myself intersex." If you would like to identify as intersex, I can understand that. But, I think that intersex usually relates to the way a person is born and develops and not necessarily changes to your body later on. Hi, Dusty. Welcome. It's good to see you, good to have you here. Thank you, Jean G. for that question. Please, keep them coming. That's an excellent and interesting question. But, ultimately, yes. Please, define yourself as what you see fit and what suites your body, what suites you. All right, so, we were talking about, I would like to come back, oh! And, please, people, ask questions. Look in the chat, check it out, and ask questions. I would love to answer those questions for you. So we started by talking about biosex, and thank you, Jean G. for bringing that back. And, now, I was talking about sexual attraction. And I was talking about the Kinsey scale, that you have between zero and six, where zero is absolutely heterosexual, and six is absolutely homosexual. But, if you've noticed, every time I mention that, I only talked about sexual attraction. What about romantic attraction? So, sexual attraction is basically, who would I like to have sex with? Romantic attraction is, who would I like to build a relationship with? And that's a good distinction to have. It's good to define what you like sexually and what you like romantically, because those might not coincide. You might like to build relationships with only one gender, but like to have sex with both genders. Or a gender nonconforming, people who don't conform to one or another gender, which we will talk about next, so hold on. Hold your horses, I'll get to that. Dusty and Jean G., you're welcome. Thank you, so much. All right, so, these are two separate scales. What am I attracted to sexually, and what am I attracted to romantically? And it's important to understand that these do not have to coincide. Again, someone who only wants to have relationships with one gender, might be attracted to different genders sexually. And those are two different things. So, once again, we have biosex. We have sexual attraction, and we have romantic attraction. And, now, I'm gonna move on. Please, ask questions in the chat, but I'm going to move on to the big subject, which is dun-da-da-dum gender. We are going to talk about gender a little bit. So, once again, like I said in the beginning, I'm gonna talk about terms, so let's talk about terms. What is gender? One thing we have to remember about gender is that is something made up. This is something that we, as humans, invented to ourselves. Gender does not exist in nature. It is something that we defined about ourselves. Gender, in general, is the way that us, as a society, relates to people in regards to their biosex. Let me explain. So, let's say that someone was born female and we define them at birth. We say they are female. You know, the doctor raises that baby and says, "Congratulations, you've got a female." And the way the world will react to that female is their gender. So, because they are female, we're gonna assume that, when that child grows up, they're gonna grow up into being a woman. The world will relate to them as a woman. Now, what does it mean to relate to someone as a women, or as a man? It means that there are certain expectancies and we think of them, the certain ways that people act, certain professions that they have, certain clothes that they'll wear, certain body language, certain pronouns, the way that we talk, the way our language works, that is all gendered. So, for example, again, we were talking about a woman, so, for a woman, there are some professions that we might think, "Oh, that's a woman's profession." Some kids that go into kindergarten, for instance, they learn, "Oh, I'm not gonna play with that. "That is "a girl's toy. "That's a boy's toy. "I'm not gonna paint with that color. "That color is a girl's color, or boy's color." And these are things that are gendered in our societies. And our societies expect us to take on ourselves a certain gender role. So a gender role, which is the fourth element of our sexual identity, gender role is basically, how do I present myself in our society? What kind of gender role am I taking upon myself that I am showing our society that that is what I want to present? So, for instance, I have a beard. That is because of my biology, but it also, not necessarily. You might have different biologies and change that in order to have a beard. Not necessarily, there are some females that grow a beard. They can, and do, grow a beard. And that's the thing. Our society expects someone with a beard to be a man, but that's a social expectation. My hair, my shirt, the way I talk, the way I present myself. I use he and him pronouns, because I present myself, I take on myself the gender role of a man. I'm also a professional cuddler. A lot of people might think that that is a woman's gender role. Is that correct? I don't know. It might be. But, again, I'm taking a certain role on myself that society may look at it in one way or another. Thank you, so much, for whoever tipped. Thank you. So that is a gender role. Basically, how society looks at us, and how society relates to us, and what kind of parts in society do we take upon ourselves? So, again, the way we present, outside. So that's the fourth element of sexual identity. The fifth element of that is gender identity. So, gender role is what I am presenting outside to society. Gender identity is what I feel on the inside. Those might not coincide, and they might coincide, as well. So we're gonna talk about both cases. So, gender identity is basically what I'm saying to myself. What kind of gender do I feel on the inside? So, I, myself, am cisgendered. That means that my gender identity coincides with the gender that was assigned to me at birth. A few years back, and, by the way, I just celebrated my birthday, so, really, a few years back, I was born, and the doctor said, "Congratulations, you've got a boy." Most likely, he said,, because I was born in Israel, but, at any rate, they said, "Congratulations, you've got a boy," because they looked, they saw a penis, and they said, "All right, that's a male. "That means they're a boy, they're gonna be a man." Now, I grew up, through the years, and I still feel like a man. That gender identity feels good to me, and it is in congruence with who I am. So that means that the gender assigned to me at birth coincides with the gender identity that I feel. That means that I am cisgendered, same-gendered. However, if I grew up, and internally, sorry, externally, I was born male, I grew up. I think I can tell you, I have a penis. I grew up to be male, and all of society looks at me and sees a male. Let's say that, internally, I feel like a woman. I feel that my identity, my internal feelings about my gender, do not coincide with my actual biosex. That means that I might define myself as transgender, which is different-gendered. So that means that I am not, I don't feel like a man, even though I'm male. I feel like a woman, even though I am male. So I might define myself as transgender, and that's, basically, what's going on. So people who feel differently than the sex that was assigned to them at birth might decide to change themselves, sorry, change their outside selves to coincide with what they feel on the inside, and that is called transitioning. Some people choose to transition, some people don't. They stay the same way outside, but they feel differently on the inside, and that's choice. That's a choice that people have. And that is really important to kind of notice that I'm always talking about men and women, male and female, but it doesn't have to be that binary. We talk about men and women as if those are the only options, but that is incorrect. Those are just two ends of a binary spectrum, basically, well, that's a binary. We think of it as a binary, but it's not. It could be a spectrum. I could be a lot of male, sorry, a lot of masculine, and a little bit of feminine. Or a lot of masculine and a lot of feminine. Or neither. Or moving, shifting, within that space. Or none of these, something completely different. And all of these options are different types of what's called gender nonconforming. I don't wanna say that I'm man, or a woman, or transperson. I wanna say that I am not on that binary. I'm gender fluid, I might change my gender. I'm agendered, I do not conform to any of those genders. There are different terms that people use, and each one is slightly different, but, basically, all of them mean not cisgendered, means that "I do not feel, my gender identity, "what I feel on the inside, "does not coincide with the way society looks at me, "therefore, the gender roles that I take upon myself." There's a beautiful quote that I heard from a transperson that said that, "The troubles with my transidentity "start at my skin." That is a really hurtful but beautiful description. Basically, what they are saying is that whatever happens underneath my skin, my internal self, how I feel on the inside, everything is great. I know who I am. I know what I feel like. I know what my identity is, what my gender identity is. "The troubles start at my skin." Anything that is external to my body, the way society looks at me, all of those aspects, that's when the trouble starts. People look at me from the outside and it does not coincide with the way that I feel on the inside, and that's where the difficulties and challenges start. If you want to kind of try to imagine, if you are cisgendered, and you want to try to, a little bit, to imagine what a transperson feels like, think about what would happen if you, every day of your life, every step of the way, all the time, people will talk to you and expect things from you that have nothing to do with yourself. So, again, I'm just giving an example, let's say that you were born male and you present yourself as masculine on the outside, but you feel, internally, feminine, so you might be what people call transwoman, that means that you were born male and your body grows up being masculine, but you feel, on the inside, a woman, and you want to present that, as a woman. But, the thing is, on the outside, you still look like a man to a lot of people, so they will start talking to you like a man. They are going to expect certain things from you as a man. They're gonna think of you in certain terms, certain ways, because what they see is a man, and they build expectations because of that. Remember what we talked about in the beginning? It's all about terms. They see a man, the term man jumps in their mind, but it is not correct for that specific individual that is standing in front of you. So that's something that I really want you to keep in mind, that idea of these are just terms. They're good, they're helpful for our everyday life, but they crumble down when it comes to an individual. We have to ask those questions of specific individuals. All right, I'm gonna take a sip of water. Please, ask me questions in the chat. If you have anything, any comments, if you'd like to tell any personal stories, please feel comfortable to do that. This is a safe space. Thank you, so much, Chu, for moderating our stream today, our chat. I will go back, again, and say those five characteristics cause we have one more, we have the sixth one, but the five characteristics that define ourselves as our sexual identity. So we're gonna start with biosex. And then we have our sexual attraction. We have our romantic attraction. We have our gender roles, the way that society looks at us. And then we have our gender identity, the way that we feel on the inside. Now that we're armed with those five criteria, let's move onto the last one, the sixth criteria that defines our sexual identity, and that is actually sexual behavior. The way we actually act. What we do in our everyday life. And those things might coincide with the first five, and they might not. So, what it means is basically what we actually do in our everyday life, sexually. So, let me give an example. Let's say that there is someone who is married, there's a man who is married to a woman. And they are cisgendered, both of them, and that means that they both feel in congruence with themselves, with their gender identity, but, the man is also attracted to other men. They are attracted to their wife. They are married, right? They are attracted to their wife, but they are also attracted to other men. So that means that they might be bisexual. That means that they are attracted to both genders. However, that couple lives in a monogamy. That means that they only have sex between the two of them. That means that the man, even though they might define themselves as bisexual, they are only having sex with that one woman in their life. So that means that they're sexual behavior might be heterosexual, but their sexual orientation might be bisexual. So here's just one example of what sexual behavior is. Jean G., thank you for asking a question. Let's see, "What adjectives you can use to "refer to nongender or gender fluid people?" I'm not sure I understand that question. What do you mean by adjectives? If I understand you correctly. I would love for you to elaborate a little bit about that, because I'm not sure I understand the question, so if you could, please, rephrase that question again. While you're doing that, I will go over another example of sexual behavior. So, another idea of sexual behavior is, for instance, abstinence. So, let's say, a priest, right? A priest is someone who might have sexual attraction to one gender or the other, but, because they took a vow of celibacy, their sexual behavior is not having sex at all. So there's a big difference between what we actually do in our everyday life and the way that we define ourselves in our sexual identity. So, let me give an example, we are started to run out of time, sorry... Oh, there you go, Jean. "Sorry, pronouns." So, "What pronouns you can use to refer "to nongender or gender fluid people?" Thank you, that's a great question. So, pronouns are the way that we talk to one another, and the way that we say he/him, she/her, they/them, ze/zir, and other variants. And the way that people ask, how should I refer to people who are gender nonconforming, people who are nongendered, people who are gender fluid? The answer is, there's only one way that you can refer to them, and that is, the way that they want you to. So, please, if you see someone, you might not know if they are, internally, if they feel the gender role that comes up in your eyes, right? You might see them act a certain gender role, but their gender identity might be different. So the only way to know is to ask them. "Hey, what are your pronouns?" You can also say, "Hi, I'm Yoni. "My pronouns are he/him. "Nice to meet you. "Tell me a little bit about yourself." Jean, don't worry, you're not an English native speaker, thank you, so much, for asking that question. I'm also English is my second language, so thank you, so much, for asking and getting clarification. The idea is that pronouns are something that we want to ask people about. We wanna ask the person in front of us what pronouns are you using? Just because I see something, I see a gender expression, a gender role, doesn't mean that that person's gender identity goes hand-in-hand with that gender role. So, all I have to do is ask that person, what pronouns do you use? And they might tell you. Someone who looks, again, plays their gender role, displays femininity, so you might look at them and say, "Oh, that's a woman," you can't know. You have to ask them. That person might use he/him pronouns, even though they look like a woman to you. Some people don't want to use he/him or she/her, they might use they/them, because they don't want to use either of those, and that's something relatively new to the language to use they/them in the singular, but we use that in our everyday life because we don't know that person's gender identity, we have to ask that in order to know. Thank you, so much, for asking that. Dusty, "Would you agree that them and they pronouns "are a good fallback if, and when, "you aren't able to ask that person?" Yes, that's my personal preference. I, when I don't know someone's gender, or what pronouns they use, notice, "what pronouns they use," I use the pronoun they. They/them is usually a safer bet. You might still get it wrong. Someone might say, "I do not like "to use they/them pronouns." That's fine. Once they tell you what their pronouns are, please try and use those pronouns. If you screw up, that's okay. We're humans, don't worry about it, but, please, make an effort. You want to respect the person that's in front of you, and if they are asking for something, we want to oblige. So, yes, Dusty, that's a good comment. Usually, I would choose they/them pronouns for people that I do not know their gender. Again, you notice the way that I'm talking. People that I do not know their gender, not men that I don't know his gender. People, general, that I don't know their gender, so, again, general. And, here's a little tip for you, if you are talking with someone or referring to someone that you don't know their gender, or you can't remember what pronouns they are using, the best way, the easiest way, for you to bypass that is use their name. You don't have to use they or them, you can just use that person's name in that sentence, and that will help you, "Oh, I don't know "if it's a he, a her, a they, I don't know." I'm just gonna use their name. And that's a really helpful tip. All right, yeah, you're welcome Jean G., thank you. All right, so I wanna give an example before we head out. I wanna give an example of a person, I'm just gonna think and invent a general, like a hypothetical person, that has different, their sexual identity card, I wanna invent someone and talk about them for just one second. So, again, those are six different criteria, so let's just invent a person, out of thin air. So the first thing is biosex. Let's say that they are born female. They are presented as female. They look female. And they actually are, they're not intersex. All their biology is on the female side, so that means that their chromosomes, hormones, external body characteristics, and internal body characteristics, and their gonads are all on the female side. So, they are biosex female. They are attracted, sexually attracted, to both male and female, both men and women. They are attracted to both genders, so they might define themselves as a three on the Kinsey scale and, therefore, they define themselves as bisexual. Romantically, however, they are, let's say, a two on the Kinsey scale, so they prefer men to build relationships with, but they have had relationships with women, or they can totally think about having a relationship with a woman, and that's absolutely fine. So, again, they have the biosex, they have the sexual attraction, now it's romantic attraction, and, now, let's talk about their gender. So, their gender role, they are, even though they were born female, they don't like to present female. They might present a lot of masculinity, and a lot of femininity at the same time. They might be what is referred to as butch, right? Someone who might look like a woman, but is presenting a lot of masculinity. And, I don't know, I'm just inventing someone, so let's say that that's what they are, and that's the way that they live their lives. So, they are very masculine, but they also show femininity. On the inside, they might feel very gender fluid. They are changing from moment to moment, between masculinity and femininity. "I'm a little bit of a man. "I'm a little bit of a woman. "I'm a little bit of everything, "and it changes from week to week. "And I kind of feel very fluid "to walk between those masculine "and feminine roles and identities. "And you know what? "I actually..." That person uses they/them pronouns because they are uncomfortable with just being her, she/her, even though they might look like a female, they might present as female, they want to use they/them pronouns. And the last thing is sexual behavior. Let's say that that person is a slut. What does that mean? That means that they like having sex. They have sex with a lot of sexual partners, or they are just open to having sex with a lot of sexual partners. So, their sexual behavior is that they do have a lot of sexual partners from both genders, from gender nonconforming people, from anyone that they feel attracted to. Because they are bisexual, they are attracted to many types of humans. So they like to have a lot of sex, so that's their sexual behavior. You see, so, I just described a person, in general terms, by using those six criteria. Have I described a specific person? No. In order to describe a specific person, you have to ask that specific person how each of those criteria connects to them. When I say "a slut," what does it mean to them? When I say "a bisexual," what does that mean to them? There are many, many different terms in all of those criteria, and I can't go over all of them, but, please know that a term is just that. It is an idea that we like to use in order to convey a message, but it might differ from one person to the other. For instance, the term queer, I love that term, first of all, because the LGBTQ community took it back, but I heard someone define, what does queer mean? And I heard that definition as queer means "ask me more." Queer means that I can't define it in one word. I want you to ask me in order to understand me, specifically. So, that's the basic idea about using terms. Please ask people what they mean. Ask them when they say a certain term what it means to them. All right, and the last thing before I let you all go is just the idea that we don't want to, we can't put people in boxes. Each person has their own box. Each person is their own wonderful human. And, by saying, homosexual, that doesn't mean anything. That's a huge, general, broad definition that doesn't really mean something about a specific person. And we can't put people in boxes because, ultimately, if we need to put people in boxes, that means that we will need seven billion boxes, because each person has their own beautiful box the way that they are relating to themselves, and the way that their sexual identity is. So, thank you, so much, everyone, for joining me today and talking about sexual identity, and the six different criteria that define gender identity, sorry, sexual identity. And I would love to see you again, next week, Tuesday, at 5 p.m., Pacific time. Please, leave comments in the chat. Thank you, so much, for whoever gave tips. Thank you, so much, for people asking questions, for Jean G. and for Dusty, and thank you, Chu, for moderating our stream today. And I love you all. It is so important to talk about these subjects and go over these terms to learn more about how we can relate to one another in better ways. So, thank you, everyone, and I hope to see you soon here, on O.school. You can check me out, if you'd like to learn more about me, you can go to yonialkan.com. You can search for me on social media, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, you can find me @DrYoniAlkan, DrYoniAlkan. Oh, thank you, Chu, for giving that information in the chat. You can look me up at elementsofsexuality.com. Ah-ha, you can see the sticker for elementsofsexuality, that's the website that I created that is basically a table of elements, only about sexuality. You can come see me at O.school, which you are doing right now. And, you can also go to The Book of Cuddles, thebookofcuddles.com, which is the book that I'm writing about cuddling, which is really a lot of fun. You can download the bite-sized Book of Cuddles for free on that website, so please do. Thank you, everyone. Thank you, Dusty, for that shout out. I use he/him pronouns, but I also accept they/them, so thank you, so much, Dusty. Thank you, everyone. I will see you next week. And have fun with O.school, and I will see you soon. Bye-bye.

Who Are We? The Basics Of Sexual Identity

Jul 10, 2018
1:00 pm
Tuesday, July 10, 2018
1:00 pm

There are so many questions relating to how we think of ourselves and how we relate to sex - Dr. Yoni will put some order into all of it, and will let you feel more comfortable in your skin and how to relate to others.