Module 3: Key Vocabulary

Vocabulary is everything.

Vocabulary is everything. 


You hear someone say something, like "asexual," but you're not sure what it means. You hear someone say they use "they/them"  pronouns, but what's a pronoun. Let's get some vocabulary straight. Pun. Intended.


But, just so you know, words and their definitions are  constructed and meanings over time and space. This iso *so* true in thevocabularies of sexuality and gender. It's most important to never, ever, use a word you know to assign meaning to someone else's experience. Respect how people describe themselves and their place in our society—their relationships, identities, practices, and communities in which they belong. 


What do I mean by this? Let's say you know a person who likes men and women. Okay, from the lessons below, that might be called "bisexual." But,  your friend says "I'm queer!" You shouldn't, ever, correct them to say "you mean bisexual!"


Our lessons are split into "Ingredients of Sexuality and Gender" units. Why? Some words connect better with other words, that's all. Let's get started. 

Lessons

This module includes the following lessons:

Biological Things

What's the difference between sex and gender?

Stop Saying These!

So, yes, there are words you SHOULD NOT SAY ANYMORE.

All Things Gender

So, what genders are there?

Sexual & Romantic Orientations

So, what about, who likes who?

Gender Expressions

What about the way you dress, act, or present yourself?

View each "Ingredient" list below and associated videos. Follow prompts for journal and assignment reflections, as well!

  • So, I've included a "way we say things" for each of our terms. I'm going to be honest. Sometimes, the way we say things can be  really, really hurtful. As we said above, vocabulary changes over time. So, below, read through the "way we say things" and, then, read how we SHOULD say these things. Take a look at the formal definitions, too!


    The Way We Say Things

    He was born a boy. Now, he's changed to be a girl


    How We Should Say This

    So, why is the above possibly harmful? I've underlined some of the possibly harmful statements. Born and change can be feel really de-humanizing. In addition, sometimes, you probably shouldn't talk about someone's past, particularly if they're transgender. That can be "outting" them in a place where they don't feel safe. For example, if you were once 300 lbs, but lost 150 lbs, you may not want, in a random conversation, for your  friend to say "he once was 300 lbs, but now is 150 lbs." That disclosure should be up to you.


    Also, notice how the example above, the person  is "now a girl." However, in the conversation, you referred to that person as "he." If that person is a girl, you should refer to them as the pronoun they would like to use. 


    Sex assigned at birth may be different that someone's gender identity.


    "I was assigned male at birth, but am a woman. I transitioned when I was 19. I use she/her pronouns."


    Terms


    biological sex noun : a medical term used to refer to the chromosomal, hormonal and anatomical characteristics that are used to classify an individual as female or male or intersex. Often referred to as simply “sex,” “physical sex,” “anatomical sex,” or specifically as “sex assigned at birth.”


    cisgender /“siss-jendur”/ – adj. : a gender description for when someone’s sex assigned at birth and gender identity correspond in the expected way (e.g., someone who was assigned male at birth, and identifies as a man). A simple way to think about it is if a person is not transgender, they are cisgender. The word cisgender can also be shortened to “cis.”


    gender identitynoun : the internal perception of one's gender, and how they label themselves, based on how much they align or don’t align with what they understand their options for gender to be. Often conflated with biological sex, or sex assigned at birth.


    genderqueer 1 adj. : a gender identity label often used by people who do not identify with the binary of man/woman. 2 adj. : an umbrella term for many gender non-conforming or non-binary identities (e.g., agender, bigender, genderfluid).


    intersexadj. : term for a combination of chromosomes, gonads, hormones, internal sex organs, and genitals that differs from the two expected patterns of male or female. Formerly known as hermaphrodite (or hermaphroditic), but these terms are now outdated and derogatory.


    transgender 1 adj. : a gender description for someone who has transitioned (or is transitioning) from living as one gender to another. 2 adj. : an umbrella term for anyone whose sex assigned at birth and gender identity do not correspond in the expected way (e.g., someone who was assigned male at birth, but does not identify as a man).

    Thinking about these terms, how do you identify?


  • As mentioned above, cisgender is when your biological sex assigned at birth matches your gender identity. So, what genders are there? There's male and female, but what else? Some of words are duplicates, but it's important to list them here.


    agender 1 adj. a person with no (or very little) connection to the traditional system of gender, no personal alignment with the concepts of either man or woman, and/or someone who sees themselves as existing without gender. Sometimes called gender neutrois, gender neutral, or genderless


    androgyny /“an-jrah-jun-ee”/ (androgynous) – 1 noun : a gender expression that has elements of both masculinity and femininity; 2 adj. : occasionally used in place of “intersex” to describe a person with both female and male anatomy, generally in the form “androgyne.”


    gender non-conforming 1 adj. : a gender descriptor that indicates a non-traditional gender expression or identity (e.g., "masculine woman"). 2 adj. : a gender identity label that indicates a person who identifies outside of the gender binary. Often abbreviated as “GNC.”


    genderfluid 1 adj. : a gender identity label often used by people whose sense of self in relation to gender changes from time-to-time. The time frame might be over the course of many months, days, shorter, or longer, but the consistent experience is one of change. 2 adj. : a general descriptor for an individual's or society's ever-changing (i.e., "fluid") embodiment of gender, in the ways it affects us or we express it individually (e.g., someone might express gender fluidly), and/or in how it is socially constructed.


    genderqueer 1 adj. : a gender identity label often used by people who do not identify with the binary of man/woman. 2 adj. : an umbrella term for many gender non-conforming or non-binary identities (e.g., agender, bigender, genderfluid).


    transgender 1 adj. : a gender description for someone who has transitioned (or is transitioning) from living as one gender to another. 2 adj. : an umbrella term for anyone whose sex assigned at birth and gender identity do not correspond in the expected way (e.g., someone who was assigned male at birth, but does not identify as a man).


    two-spirit noun : is an umbrella term traditionally within Native American communities to recognize individuals who possess qualities or fulfill roles of both feminine and masculine genders.

    Something to ponder: third-gender or 'two-spirit' is being referred to "as new" in our society. But many, societies have had gender variations. Take a look at the slideshow above!

  • Well, really, that's their business, right? I always say that if we just respect a person for their choices, it would be a much easier world to live in!


    First, we need to define two differences: sexual attraction and romantic attraction.


    Wait, there's a difference?!?


    romantic attraction noun : a capacity that evokes the want to engage in romantically intimate behavior (e.g., dating, relationships, marriage), experienced in varying degrees (from little-to-none, to intense). Often conflated with sexual attraction, emotional attraction, and/or spiritual attraction.


    sexual attractionnoun : a capacity that evokes the want to engage in sexually intimate behavior (e.g., kissing, touching, intercourse), experienced in varying degrees (from little-to-none, to intense). Often conflated with romantic attraction, emotional attraction, and/or spiritual attraction.


    So yes, someone could like having sex with people of all genders and sexes, but only be romantically attracted to women.


    And, yes, some people are asexual. This means that they experience little or no sexual attraction to others and/or a lack of interest in sexual relationships/behavior.  Asexuality exists on a continuum from people who experience no sexual attraction or have any desire for sex, to those who experience low levels, or sexual attraction only under specific conditions. Many of these different places on the continuum have their own identity labels (see demisexual). Sometimes abbreviated to “ace.” Here's an interesting video that explains more. I challenge you to share this video with others who may never have learned about asexuality.


    But, some people do use labels to explain their sexual or romantic attractions. Those labels are called orientations


    sexual orientation noun : the type of sexual, romantic, emotional/spiritual attraction one has the capacity to feel for some others, generally labeled based on the gender relationship between the person and the people they are attracted to. Often confused with sexual preference.


    Here are some more common labels:


    bisexual 1 noun & adj. : a person who experiences attraction to some men and women. 2 adj. : a person who experiences attraction to some people of their gender and another gender. Bisexual attraction does not have to be equally split, or indicate a level of interest that is the same across the genders an individual may be attracted to. Often used interchangeably with “pansexual”.


    gay1 adj. : experiencing attraction solely (or primarily) to some members of the same gender. Can be used to refer to men who are attracted to other men and women who are attracted to women. 2 adj. : an umbrella term used to refer to the queer community as a whole, or as an individual identity label for anyone who is not straight.


    lesbiannoun & adj. : women who are primarily attracted romantically, erotically, and/or emotionally to other women.


    pansexualadj. : a person who experiences sexual, romantic, physical, and/or spiritual attraction for members of all gender identities/expressions. Often shortened to “pan.”


    straightadj. : a person primarily emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to some people who are not their same sex/gender. A more colloquial term for the word heterosexual.

    Okay, let's reflect for a minute. What types of sexual orientations have you observed in your life? Which is more regular for you? How would you respond to someone with varying sexual or romantic orientations?

  • Unfortunately, our world has some really strict rules that tell us how to dress or act. 


    These are called binary rules. 


    There's men and women. 


    That's it. 


    These expectations are not written anywhere, but they're taught to us from a very young age. They're reinforced when we see someone conform to them and they're also perpetuated by magazines and media. 


    The external display of one’s gender, through a combination of clothing, grooming, demeanor, social behavior, and other factors, generally made sense of on scales of masculinity and femininity, is known as gender expression. Also referred to as “gender presentation.”


    Think of it this way. If I said "draw a picture of a boy and a girl," you would probably have some stereotypes to recall and implement in your image. Maybe the boy wears shorts and a t-shirt, and has short hair, while the girl is in a dress or shorts (but they're probably shorter shorts than the boy's) and a tank top with strings versus straps. Perhaps she has longer hair, too.


    Challenging gender expressions is one way that LGBTQ+ community combats rigid roles. We make a ton of assumptions based on how we "connect the dots" between how someone dresses or acts, to their gender identity.

    How have you reacted, or might you react, to your child or partner dressing and behaving outside of society’s norms for their sex/gender?

  • So, you made it! After learning the evolving terms, it's important, though, to say there are certain words we no longer say. Why? Because maybe they were steeped in pain. Maybe they were too clinical and felt dehumanizing. Whatever the case, take a look at the images below to gain an understand of what NOT to say anymore. 

    Think back on your past experiences. Are there times you've used words that might have been harmful to someone? How so? What would you do differently?

Downloads

Activities and resources for this module!

Crossword Answer Key

LGBTQ+ Crossword

Done with all of the lessons? Complete the module's closing activity below!
Contact

For trainings, workshops, or just to chat, e-mail:

brandon@brandonbarile.com

For media inquiries, e-mail:

media@brandonbarile.com

© 2020 by Dr. Brandon Barile

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