What is the Difference Between Sex Assigned at Birth and Gender Identity?


What’s the difference between sex
assigned at birth and gender? Many people use the term sex and
gender interchangeably, but in fact theses are two
separate characteristics. At birth, a child is usually
assigned a sex according to the body parts with which that child is born. Gender is a broader term that includes
a person’s internal sense of who they are, that’s called their gender identity. And most children are aware of
their gender identity pretty early on in childhood. The term gender also includes the way
in which people express their identity, by way of how they choose to dress and
present themselves to others. In any society ideas about what’s
considered acceptable gender expression change over time. In western society today,
not many people would be shocked to see a woman wearing pants or
a man wearing an earring. This probably wasn’t
the case 100 years ago. As a society,
we seem to be a little more accepting of sex assigned girls,
who also identify as girls, but they prefer to dress and act in ways
that are considered typically boyish. Interestingly, our society is
still less accepting of sex assigned boys who identify as boys, but choose to express themselves in ways
that our society considers girlish. Many children whose gender identity and
their sex assigned at birth are aligned, will choose to dress or act in ways that
don’t conform to traditional gender roles. But even though we’ve become more
comfortable with a more expansive view of gender expression, the general
understanding of gender identity in our society has been that there
only two choices, male or female. And that they should match or align with a child’s sex assigned
at birth, today that’s changing. More and more scientists,
healthcare professionals, and people in the general public are beginning
to recognize that gender identity may be better understood as the characteristic
that exists across a spectrum, like many other human characteristics. And that gender identity and
sex assigned at birth don’t always align. If we start to think about gender identity
as a spectrum, and we remember that this is a characteristic that’s separate
from a person’s sex assigned at birth. Then it begins to make sense that in some
cases a person’s gender identity, and the label they’re given at birth, might
not be oriented in the same direction. A child who’s sex assigned at birth
aligns with their gender identity, which is the more common case scenario,
is sometimes called cisgender. When a child’s sex assigned at birth
doesn’t align with their gender identity, and this is the less common case,
this is called transgender. The prefixes cis and trans come
from organic chemistry, where a cis molecule is a molecule with two functional
groups oriented in the same direction. In a trans molecule, the functional groups
are oriented away from one another. Understanding gender identity as
a characteristic that’s separate from a person’s sex assigned at birth,
and one that exists across a spectrum, is a much more inclusive way of
looking at the world around us. It creates space for diversity, and allows all of our children the chance
to be celebrated and loved for who they truly are, regardless of where
they fall on the gender spectrum. As a society,
we try to protect human rights, especially the rights of our children. Imagine a world where all children have
the right to be loved and accepted, regardless of their gender identity,
and whether or not it aligns with the sex
they were assigned at birth. You may not realize it but
by watching this video, you’ve already started to
build that kind of a world. [MUSIC]

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