What is the difference between sex and gender?
Sex refers to biological differences that we associate with being male or female.
Gender refers to the cultural and social meanings and expectations we place on the sexes. This includes roles, behaviours and characteristics that society considers appropriate for girls/women and boys/men or for those who do not fall neatly into these categories.
Gender identity is a term that describes the way you feel about your gender—including the body you were born with, and the ways you feel you are expected to behave based on your assigned gender (the label given to you at birth). In other words, gender identity describes how you relate to your sex, as well as how you feel about the roles girls/women and boys/men are expected to play.
Myth: There are only two genders, male/masculine or female/feminine.
Fact: There are a diversity of gender categories.
Transgender (or trans for short) is a broad term used to describe individuals whose gender identities, gender expressions or behaviours do not align with their sex or assigned gender.
This term can be used to refer to someone who does not identify with the gender that they were assigned at birth. For example, it can describe someone who was labeled female at birth but whose gender identity is actually male. This term can also refer to someone who does not look or act in ways that society expects someone of their gender to look or act.
Myth: Boys/men and girls/women are opposites.
Fact: Although we often hear that the genders are opposite from one another, this is not true. There are many different ways to experience and express our gender.
Myth: Gender differences are natural.
Fact: Gender is something that we learn. We learn about what is expected for each gender from lots of different sources including family, friends, media and our schools.
How do we know that gender is something that is learned and not natural? What it means to be a particular gender depends on a person’s community, culture, society and time period. For example, expectations for girls and boys in Canada are different now than they were 100 years ago.
Also, some things that we think of as traditionally being “feminine” or “masculine” have changed over time.
The association of the colour pink with baby girls and blue with baby boys is a really recent development.
High heels were also originally considered a masculine fashion item: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-21151350
Myth: It is “normal” for boys/men and girls/women to be physically attracted to and romantically interested in the opposite gender.
Fact: Our gender or gender expression (for example, how we dress and behave) do not determine our sexuality.
Take a look at this fun infographic which challenges this assumption: