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Demographic structure of society - sex, gender, and sexual orientation

Video transcript
Voiceover: Sex, gender and sexual orientation are all connected, but are also important individually. The media often portrays gender and sexual orientation as a simple binary. Either you're male or you're female. Either you like men or you like women, but there is so much more to this picture than just two options. There are at least five main considerations when examining a persons gender and sexual orientation. There is the sex the person was born with, the gender they identify as, the gender they express, the gender they are romantically attracted to, and the gender they are sexually attracted to. These are all part of a persons identity, and they don't all have to align. Let's break this down a bit. A persons sex is whether they are biologically, chromosomally, male or female. Do they have two X chromosomes, or an X and a Y? But, even that isn't just a binary. There are intersex people who are born with one or three or more sex chromosomes, as opposed to the more common two, and so they express slightly different physical sex characteristics than their deployed two sex chromosomes counter parts. Some intersex people are born with both male and female sex characteristics, due to unusual hormone levels. Ok, so, now that we have added a new layer of complexity to the sex of a person, let's do the same to their gender. While sex is a biological factor, gender is a social construction. There are two main factors to gender, the gender you identify as, and the gender you express outwardly. It is probably easiest to look at the people whose sex and gender do not correspond, to understand this fully. There are many possible combinations of sex and gender. A person who is biologically male, can either identify as male, which is considered cisgendered because their biological sex and gender identity match, or they could identify as female, which is considered transgendered, because their biological sex and gender identity don't match. And then you have the other factor of gender, namely which gender the person expresses to the world. A cisgendered male can present either a socially male appearance, by adhering to the strict male guidelines, or they can present a socially female apprearance, by following the female guidelines, like wearing dresses or makeup. All these same options are true for biologically female or intersex people as well. But, again, gender is not a binary. Some people identify as gender queer, meaning they don't identify as either male or female, or they can present as gender queer while identifying as male or female. There's so many possibilities when looking at gender identity. Now that we have figured out the many possibilities of sex and gender, let's take a look at sexual orientation. Sexual orientation is not dependent on the sex or gender of a person. Whom we are sexually attracted to can be as varied as how we identify. And there can be a difference between whom we are attracted to and whom we have sex with. For example, you can be attracted to any gender, but only have sex with females, or any combination of the gender and sexual identities. You can be attracted to all genders, or to none. It all depends on the person. The stereotype norm for people in our society is straight, so you see here, if I am biologically female I would identify and present as female, and I would be attracted to only males, and have sex with only males. And as it turns out in this handy dandy chart I made, it makes a simple straight line down through all the options, but, if I was cisgendered, but was attracted to everyone and only had sex with females, the line tracing my identity turns off the straight and narrow. Whether or not sexual orientation is a choice has been a topic of hot debate for many years now. There's so much talk of the gay gene, but is it really so important that there be a specific gay gene? What if a person who doesn't have the gay gene likes people of their own gender? Or, what if a person who does have the gay gene likes people of the opposite gender? Does this make either of their preferences, their love, any less real? In today's society, discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation happens almost everywhere. Discrimination is when different cateories of people are treated unjustly, simply because they belong to that category. In our western world, everyone begins life with a determined sex, either male or female, and from the moment they are born, sometimes even earlier, society gives them messages about how they should behave and think. And this shapes who they will grow up to be. Girls should grow up to be feminine, and boys should grow up to be masculine. These gender roles are the expectations of the proper behaviors, attitudes, and activities of males and females. As though men and women only display one type of quality all the time. Girls are taught to be soft, emotional, submissive, while boys are taught to be aggressive, tough, dominant. Our society is inundated by images from the media that tell us what we should be. It is very easy to see these societal gender norms, just try breaking one of them and watch the responses you get. If you're a female, try spitting in public, or if you're male try knitting on the bus. It is interesting to note that it seems worse for man to act feminine than it does for a woman to act masculine. The roles that are generally considered feminine, don't have the same value in our society as traditionally masculine roles. Taking care of a family, typically considered a feminine role, is not as important as succeeding in a job, which is traditionally considered a masculine role. Working mothers are considered ambitious, while people wonder why a father would choose to stay at home and raise the kids. But that doesn't mean that women have it easy in this patriarchal society. For the same job, men will get paid more than women with the same qualifications. Succeeding in school is often attributed to intelligence in boys and to hard work from girls, as though girls don't have the innate intelligence to succeed. A woman who prioritizes her job over her family is looked down upon, while a man is congratulated for the exact same behavior. On average, women tend to live longer than men. Perhaps this is because of biological factors, or perhaps because men are expected to take more risks and be more daring than women. There are differences in certain disorders between men and women as well. Men are more likely to have heart problems, while women are more likely to have psychological disorders. This may not entirely be due to biology though. Men tend to occupy high stress positions, which increases the risk of heart problems. It is also seen as weak for men to admit to having a psychological problem, like depression or anxiety. Which means that even if a man is depressed, he is less likely to seek help than a woman in the same circumstance. Societal expectations affect what problems will be reported, and where people will seek help. It is not just a persons gender that will determine how society reacts to them. It is also their sexual orientation. There are restrictions on the rights of homosexuals that don't apply to heterosexuals. And some people believe that they should not be granted those same rights either, like the right to marry or to visit their partner in the hospital. This discrimination often brings up the question of whether homosexuality is a choice, or if people are born as they are. If it is genetic, then sexual discrimination is as socially dysfunctional as race, gender or disability based discrimination. At the same time, if it isn't genetic, and is a choice or social construction, then it is still equally dysfunctional, because race itself is a social construction. Our understanding of gender, sex, and sexual orientation may seem thorough and complete, but there is still a ton of research into each of these topics, and we learn something more every year. Gender, sex, and sexual orientation are all independent of each other, and there are many combinations of the three. In our society, there is discrimination and segregation to spare for everyone, and perhaps by understanding the sources of it a bit better, we can help make everyone feel more welcome.