Gender is generally defined by behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits. Although gender and sex have historically been equated, they are increasingly understood as separate.[1] Gender is a complex combination of elements that are assigned certain meanings by society, such as an individual's identity, expression, and presentation, as well as the roles and norms associated with those genders. Definitions of gender vary among different cultures and among individuals. It has often been reduced to a binary of "male" and "female".[2]

Elements of gender

Gender identity

Gender identity is a person's internal, deeply held sense of their own gender (or lack thereof). Unlike gender expression, gender identity is not visible to others. An individual's gender identity may or may not align with their birth assignment.[3][4] Most people, whether cisgender or transgender, have a gender identity of male/man/boy or female/woman/girl. For other people, their gender identity does not fit neatly into one of those two options, such as people who are non-binary or genderqueer.[3]

Gender expression

Gender expression is how someone chooses to outwardly express their gender in public.[5] Gender expression is external manifestations of gender,[3][6] while gender identity is internal. Expression includes a person's name, pronouns, body characteristics, voice, behavior, and aesthetic choices such as hair, clothing, and cosmetics. Various forms of expression are regarded as "masculine" or "feminine" within different cultures. Some transgender people seek to align their gender expression with their gender identity, rather than the cues associated with the sex they were assigned at birth.[3]

An individual's gender expression does not have to align with their gender identity. Clothes, pronouns, or any other form of gender expression do not determine someone's internal gender identity.[7]

Gender presentation

Gender presentation refers to how other people see and understand someone else's gender.[5] Gender expression is part of it, but presentation also includes how those forms of expression are perceived by another person. When one person perceives a second, the first person interprets how the second person's gender is presented. The first person may incorrectly guess the second person's gender because people are taught that certain types of hairstyles, clothing, body language, voice, and other cues are "masculine" or "feminine".[8]

Gender role

Gender roles, or gender norms, are the cultural expectations for how people of different genders—presumed to be only cisgender men or women—should or should not think and behave, and how other people should treat them. These roles are part of the gender binary and reflect gender essentialist beliefs. What people consider to be a "man's role" and a "woman's role" varies by culture.[9]

See also