Gender: What is it?

by Chris Lacefieldgenderbread


Recall our earlier lesson in gender identity. An often misunderstood concept, this term hopes to help us label how we think about our own gender. This is how we think about ourselves as women, men, trans, genderqueer, or genderfluid. There are many other labels that can be applied to gender identity, but the gist of gender identity is based on our internal concept of self. It is how we answer the question for ourselves: Where do I fall on the gender spectrum? This term has nothing to do with sexual orientation or attraction. Gender identity is completely separate from sexual orientation.


Culture determines what gender is, how many there are, and what is acceptable or unacceptable for each gender role. Gender is a socially constructed concept. Each culture through history and currently has different ideas about what it means to be a man or woman. Some cultures have more than two genders. In Native American cultures, prior to colonization, the “Two Spirit” held revered places in society. In the contemporary culture in Thailand, there are multiple genders. Even in the United States, the classic color divisions of pink and blue only date back to the 1940s when advertisers decided that pink was appropriate for girls, and blue was the color for boys. Just a few decades earlier the paradigm was reversed. Pink was considered passionate and strong, so it was deemed appropriate for boys. Blue was thought of as dainty and delicate, therefore, it was assigned to girls.

Beyond even how we symbolize gender, the culture determines that boys are passionate and strong and girls are dainty and delicate. There is biological basis for the attribution of characteristics like strong or dainty. Girls are strong. Men are dainty. When we don’t allow girls to be strong or men to be dainty, we stifle the human experience, damage potential, and inflict suffering.

Watch Little Game to get an idea of what I mean:

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