"Gender" versus "sex"
Gender and sexuality are both essential components of who we are, and how we live our lives. But the two are not the same, and that’s an important fact to remember. Gender identity and sexual orientation are two separate things. “Sexual orientation” is who you love; “gender identity” is a form of expression about identity.
The Human Rights Campaign defines gender identity as the “innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend of both or neither – how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves.” Gender identity can mirror what a person was assigned at birth, or be entirely different. There are dozens of genders, outside of just man or woman, that people can identify with.
The Human Rights Campaign defines sexual orientation as “an inherent or immutable enduring emotional, romantic or sexual attraction to other people.”
One way to differentiate the terms is to remember this: “Sexuality is who you go to bed with, and gender identity is who you go to bed as.”
Whether people are dating, working in an office, or just living life, they want to feel that other people recognize their gender identity.
Sources: http://www.hrc.org/resources/glossary-of-terms and http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-difference-between-sexual-orientation-and-gender-identity/.
We continue to meet people who care about and support the transgender community. We began working with John Patching, Transgender Therapy, in the spring of 2017. He has since counseled members of our family and has been a great resource for us as well.
John works with all aspects of the individual (mind, body, and spirit) ensuring there is balance. As well as working with clients with Gender Dysphoria and their friends/families, he also works with individuals with a range of other health issues.
He uses Advanced Hypnosis Skills, Neurolinguistic Training, Life Coaching, LBL Regression, and Mindfulness Techniques, as well as Deep Cleansing and Rejuvenation at a Spiritual Level.
John has also personally transitioned from female to male and has a unique therapeutic understanding of Transgender Identity (Gender Dysphoria) and the processes involved.
As he is based in the United Kingdom, we work with him through Skype calls—and we’ve all benefitted from talking with him from the comfort and privacy of our own home. Resources on his website include US and UK organizations and publications. Find him on the web at http://transgendertherapy.co.uk/ and on Facebook @transtherapy and Twitter @transgenderthpy
We were recently asked if there are specific terms for someone who is transgender and attracted to same gender or opposite gender.
To answer that question, I consulted a wonderful booklet published by PFLAG (https://www.pflag.org/) titled “Guide to being a Trans Ally.” The first chapter explains the terms “gender expression,” “gender identity,” and “sexual orientation” and gives several examples to help readers understand the difference between these terms. (You can download the booklet at https://www.pflag.org/publication/guidetobeingatransally.)
To answer the question: the terms “gay,” “lesbian,” and “straight” apply to people who are transgender. So, for example:
Doing Our Best
Some of our household has read The Four Agreements: A Toltec Wisdom Book by Don Miguel Ruiz. We have found that each agreement applies to all parts of our lives, including work, personal, and our transgender journey.
The Four Agreements are:
1. Be Impeccable with your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally: Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
3. Don’t Make Assumptions: Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
4. Always Do Your Best: Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.
As we remember these four agreements, we remember to be easy on ourselves and forgive ourselves—because the first three agreements will only work if we do our best. We can’t expect that we will always be able to be impeccable with our words, for example. Our routine habits are too strong and firmly rooted in our mind. But we can always do our best. We can’t expect that we will never take anything personally; we just do our best. And we can’t expect that we will never make another assumption, but we can certainly do our best.
This is a great book for personal growth and insights to improve relationships, especially within your family.
From scouring the web to reading books, through watching videos to talking with people of different orientations and identities, we created a glossary of terms to educate ourselves and clarify how we speak.
Two things to keep in mind: 1) We’ve learned that language is evolving from sexualities to genders; that is, the term used most commonly today is “transgender” not “transsexual” (but language is a work in progress so be kind!). 2) In writing and speaking, it has always been important to put the person first: “a person who is transgender” not “a transgender person.” Although again, don’t be too critical; the bottom line is that we need to be sensitive to what others are feeling. If you don’t know how someone wants to be addressed, just ask.
Our family members like many others are open to learning; please let us know if we’ve missed a definition or if a word needs more clarification (a Glossary, part 2, is already in the works).