Sex and gender are two different things
There are two aspects to what we normally think of as a person’s gender – their biological sex and their internal sense of gender.
Someone may identify their sex as male because they have physical characteristics that society typically describes as “masculine”.
For a variety of reasons that same person may identify their gender (their internal sense of identity) as female, and embody qualities that society typically identifies as “feminine”.
Sex and gender do not occur as a binary
A significant portion of the population are born with genitals and physical characteristics that do not fall into the category of either male or female.Increasingly, many people are beginning to feel that their internal gender is also fluid, and they may not wish to identify as either male or female.
Sometimes it is helpful to think of gender as being on a scale, with female on one end and male on the other, with individuals free to move in between as they wish. At other times, it is helpful to throw away the scale altogether – male and female do not always have to be opposites. Values such as being strong, caring, sensitive and kind are admirable human qualities that can be embodied by anyone!
Identifying as intersex or transgender can impact on an individual’s sexuality
It is important to remember when considering how to to describe an individual’s sexuality that terms such as “gay”, “lesbian” or “bisexual” may be less applicable or not appropriate if an individual or their partner does not identify as being male or female.
Why choose a sex and gender diverse friendly counsellor?
The experience of having a gender identity that does not coincide with your biological sex, or having a gender identity that is fluid can be an isolating experience.
Health professionals may (unintentionally) behave in a way that reinforces this sense of isolation. Just like the rest of us, they have grown up in a world that maintains that there are only two genders, and is built for people who identify as either male or female. It can take a long time and a lot of self exploration to move outside of this framework.
When you see a diversity friendly counsellor you can be assured that -
We will do our best to use language that is non discriminatory (including using non gender specific language)
We understand that being transgendered or gender queer comes with it’s own unique challenges (and rewards)
We understand that being transgendered or gender queer may not be the only reason that an individual is facing issues in their life
We maintain that it is every individual’s right to modify or not modify their body as they see fit
We do not pathologise gender diversity – it is a natural and wonderful part of human experience