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Sex, gender and sexuality

The spectrum

Today’s younger 21st-century generation has a significantly different understanding of these issues than previous generations, embracing an evolving language that better describes who they are and how they feel.

Also, talking about sex, gender expression, gender identity, and sexual orientation can be daunting for those who were raised with a more fixed or narrower view of gender (a man or woman), sex (male or female), or sexuality (gay or straight).

For some, our sexuality and gender identity are clear(er); for others, less so and can be more fluid.

The spectrum illustrated here (and there are variations) can help visualise how you feel at any given time.

"If you were born with a penis, society expects you to look, act and dress in one way, and if you were born with vulva, society expects you to be the opposite. Many people assume that the sex you were assigned at birth (eg: male) will determine your gender identity (man), your gender expression (masculine) and your sexual orientation and behaviour (straight). Men are supposed to be dominant, rational and providers while women are expected to be submissive, emotional and nurturing. That’s not for everyone! People identify in many ways—in between and outside of the categories of man/ woman, male/ female, masculine/ feminine and gay/ straight. Our lives are much more complex than the pink and blue boxes set by the gender binary." Send the Right Message | US

Check out our A-Z glossary of words and terms, including ...

Ace | MEN R US
Pansexual | MEN R US
Gender fluid | MEN R US
Nonbinary | MEN R US
Asexual | MEN R US
Aromantic | MEN R US
Demisexual | MEN R US
Grey | MEN R US


Ace Voices | Eris Young | Jessica Kingsley Publishing | 2022
"How do we experience attraction? What does love mean to us? When did you realise you were ace? This is the ace community in their own words. Drawing upon interviews with a wide range of people across the asexual spectrum, Eris Young is here to take you on an empowering, enriching journey through the rich multitudes of asexual life."
Bi: Bisexual, Pansexual, "Fluid, and Nonbinary Youth | Ritch C. Savin-Williams | NYU Press | 2021
"Ritch Savin-Williams, brings bisexuality to centerstage at a moment when Gen Z and millennial youth and young adults are increasingly rejecting traditional labels altogether. Drawing on interviews with bisexual youth from a range of racial, ethnic, and social class groups, he reveals to us how bisexuals define their own sexual orientation and experiences—in their own words."

Gay's the Word
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The oldest LGBT+ bookshop in the United Kingdom.

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