Gender Identities

A Romaine and kale salad with avocado, cucumber, shishito peppers, and four kinds of cheese. Sprinkled in balsamic straight from Italy. Wow! In my day, salads only had two ingredients, a rock hard wedge of iceberg lettuce and a stinky old dried up tomato. Sorry, guys, I’m going to have to eat fast. Alex is stopping by in a few minutes to work on a robotics project. Alex, is that the girl with that weird dog or the boy with the hat with the wings that flap? No, Uncle Jay, this is Alex. Oh, OK. I remember. A very nice young, hmm. Come to think of it, well, is Alex a boy or a girl. Actually, Alex doesn’t define themselves as boy or girl. What else is there? Back in your day, most people understood the world in terms of just boys and girls. But now, we know gender is more complex than that. Wait. Aren’t we just talking about whether you’re born with a – or a – . When you’re born, your sex is assigned in a medical way.

But the sex listed on your birth certificate may not necessarily match your gender identity. Gender identity is a person’s inner experience of who they are in terms of gender. Their deep personal sense of being male, female, a blend of both, or neither. And while many people have a gender identity that’s the same as their assigned birth sex, a female or male, that’s not always the case because gender exists on a spectrum.

Like transgender, which means a person whose gender identity is not consistent with their assigned birth sex. Non-binary, which means a person whose identity doesn’t fall in the category of either male or female. And genderqueer or genderfluid, which means a person who does not identify themselves as having a specific gender at all. Does gender identity have to do with being straight or gay? Actually, no. Gender identity has to do with the way you feel about yourself. While sexual orientation is based on the way you feel toward others, the people you may or may not be attracted to. You know I really like Alex. And I can tell they’re a good friend to you. But I’m still pretty confused about all of this.

That’s OK. You don’t have to fully understand someone to respect them. To start, try not to make any assumptions about a person’s gender. And use the name and pronouns that they ask you to. Above all, be a friend or ally for people of all gender identities. That’s right, mom. Alex is here. Come on in. Hey, everyone. Oh, hey, Alex. Care for some salad? The balsamic’s right from Italy, you know.