This year in particular is incredibly special. My wife and I will be able to take our newborn twins to PRIDE. Attending PRIDE, feels like we are introducing the twins to our extended family. A family of resiliency and love that expresses themselves wholly and does not hide their true selves. My wife and I are so thankful for those who fought tirelessly for our right to exist, those who fought for our love to be recognized and those who fought for our ability to be a family without persecution, OUT and in the open.
As a health educator, I have the unique privilege to facilitate conversations about sexuality. This is Includes conversations about gender, sexual orientation(s), dating, relationships, friendships, communication skills, sexual health, sexually transmitted infections (STI’s), safer sex methods, puberty, body image, etc. During each classroom presentation, I am able to talk to a LOT of young people and answer a LOT of (anonymous) questions.
One of my favorite presentations is our lesson on gender and sexual orientation. Our education team always receives thought provoking questions while also learning new information and terminology from students.
The most common questions we receive from individuals outside of the LGBTQ community tend to ask us about the differences between gender identity, gender expression, biological sex, and sexual orientation. Allow me to shed some light on the matter, here, in this blog post, for our readers.
Every person has a biological sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expresses their gender.
Wow, that is interesting!
GENDER IDENTITY – how a person identifies and who we individually and internally know ourselves to be. It is our deeply held, internal sense of self as man, woman, other gender identity, a blend of all, or neither, etc.
GENDER EXPRESSION – how we present our gender in the world and how society, culture, community, and family perceive, interact with, and try to shape our gender. For example, a person can express their gender by the way they dress, talk, act, walk, or types of hobbies they pursue.
*Both Gender identity and gender expression vary depending on location, time-period, community culture, etc. The two most common gender identities are boy and girl (or man and woman), and often people think that these are the only two gender identities. However, gender actually exists on a continuum and not limited to just two possibilities.
BIOLOGICAL SEX (Sex Assigned at Birth) – refers to measurable organs, hormones, and chromosomes of a person. Often this means, female=vagina, ovaries, XX chromosomes; male=penis, testes, XY chromosomes; intersex= a combination of the two.
SEXUAL ORIENTATION – who you like, love, or are attracted to. The LGBT(QAI+) acronym stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Asexual, and Intersex. The LGBQA are sexual orientations that explain who a person likes, loves and/or is attracted to. The T and I refer to gender identity and sex assigned at birth.
*Each of these categories exist on a spectrum. Each category can influence the other, but does not determine the other. A person can place themselves somewhere on one spectrum and it does not mean that they will automatically be in a certain place on the other spectrum.
** You can find more information on all of this here: TSER
PFLAG, (Parents and friends of Lesbians and Gays) works toward providing support, education, and advocacy for LGBTQ communities and their allies – https://www.pflag.org
Human Rights Campaign – http://www.hrc.org/blog/hrc-proclaims-june-2017-as-uniteresistenlist-month
TSER – Trans Student Educational Resources- http://www.transstudent.org
Outfront MN, an organization that provides resources for greater MN, legislation for LGBTQ Rights, Statewide GSA network, and anti-violence program – https://www.outfront.org/home
MN School Outreach Coalition, a coalition of non-profit organizations (myHealth is part of this) that plan several events for LGBTQIA Youth around the twin cities – http://www.mnschooloutreach.org
Q-Quest, a queer statewide youth conference that occurs happens every October.
Queer Prom, April social event.
Youth Day at the Capital, a statewide youth conference that occurs in the spring.
Youth Pride – An event that occurs at the end of May or early June.
Transforming Families – https://transformingfamiliesminnesota.org
MN Trans Health Coalition, provides support groups, shot clinic, HIV testing, and professional development trainings – http://www.mntranshealth.org
GLBT Host Home, several host home and support programs for GLBTQ youth – http://www.avenuesforyouth.org/programs-glbthosthome.html
Rainbow Health Initiative, provides education and training for medical professionals of how to better serve LGBTQ community. Facilitates research on health disparities in LGBTQ communities and the ways in which to provide support – http://www.rainbowhealth.org/
CLINICS that support LGBTQ youth and young adults
myHealth for Teens & Young Adults
Family Tree Clinic
Annex Teen Clinic
UofM Boynton Health Clinic