The Difference Between Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Gender is the mental, social and cultural characteristics that define a person as female or male, while gender is a biological (anatomical and physiological) division into females and males. There is also a separate division for people transitioning from one gender to another and for intersex people – individuals born with both female and male biological characteristics. 

This means, for example, that a person who looks like a woman may not identify with other women, as cultural norms, stereotypes, and social roles inherent in the female gender are not close to him.

The emergence of the term

The concept of gender itself emerged from the development of feminist movements and social constructivism. The notion that women’s status and the seemingly natural distinction between males and females are not of biological origin, but rather are a way of interpreting the legitimate biological in a given society.

This topic is relevant because now, more and more people are opening up to society about their gender identity. The influence of gender identity on personality is still being studied. The primary source for exploring this topic will be an essay on gender identity or articles from educational sites. A research paper is available for study to all students.

Starting a deep study of this topic, you can find interesting articles and essays related to the topic of the influence of hormones on sexual orientation, what problems of gender inequality arise, how to deal with this social problem, and much more. Reading such educational materials will help a person not only develop in a new direction but also find answers to his internal questions.

Social processes and social roles

In other words, the social roles that men and women play, according to proponents of feminism and social constructivism, are not determined by biological characteristics, but by social processes. At least, this was the case in the twentieth century, when feminists fought against gender stereotypes and advocated the equalization of the rights of men and women.

In the twenty-first century, however, the idea of gender has been somewhat transformed and seems only to have become more complicated. Because, there are people, whose gender identity – the conscious idea of which gender one belongs to – does not correspond to gender, refers to both genders simultaneously, and sometimes does not belong to either gender at all.

Sexual minorities

Thus, many new definitions of gender emerged, and people whose gender did not correspond to gender began to be classified as LGBTQA+ community – in other words, as sexual minorities. From that point on, things got even more complicated because, originally, sexual minorities represented people who had a non-traditional sexual orientation. Still, the term also includes those whose gender is different from the conventional one. 

How to make sense of it all?

In summary, by today, we have at least three closely related terms: gender, sexual orientation, and the combination which gives many variations on how people define themselves. There are many differences and subtleties in defining gender and sexual orientation, we’ve put together some basic terms to help navigate the world of sexual and gender minorities.


  • Cisgender. Cisgender people are most people who, from birth, feel they are one of two genders according to their biological sex and behave according to that sex throughout their lives.
  • Bigender. In the classic sense, such people identify as both male and female simultaneously, but some may feel, for example, half female and half agender or just a non-binary person.
  • Transgender. For example, a person is biologically born male but identifies as female, and vice versa. There is also the term transsexual, which is a person who not only identifies with another gender but has also had surgery to change his or her biological sex.
  • Genderfluid. A person tries on different social roles, refusing to behave exclusively feminine or masculine most of the time. Focuses on one’s desires, moods, and context allows one to choose a particular social role.
  • Androgynous/Agender. Agender people do not feel they belong to any gender and refuse to have a gendered sense of self. Otherwise, they are also called genderless and can be addressed by “they/them.”
  • Demigenderne. There are the terms demigirl, part female but usually male, and demiboy, part male but typically female.

Transgenderism is not related to sexual orientation – any transgender person can be hetero, homo, bi, asexual, and so on.

Sexual orientation

  • Heterosexual. Generally, the term heterosexuality applies to humans, but heterosexual behavior is predominantly characteristic of all mammals because it promotes reproduction.
  • Homosexual. A lesbian is a girl attracted to other girls, and a gay is a man attracted to other men. In English, the term gay is often used for women as well and means the same thing as a homosexual.
  • Bisexual. Bisexual is a person attracted to both men and women, but with the emergence of new genders, this term is also starting to refer to those attracted to any other gender.
  • Asexual. Asexuals come in a variety of forms. Some, for example, are not sexually attracted to anyone but still engage in romantic relationships, while others do not even do that.
  • Pansexual. Pansexuality closely borders on bisexuality, but while bisexuality in the classical sense is more of a division between “female” and “male,” pansexuality does not distinguish between any genders or sexes at all. Such people also call themselves “gender-blind.

Difference between gender identity and sexual orientation

The concept of “gender” refers to the totality of human beings’ anatomical, physiological, biochemical, and genetic characteristics based on which they are registered as male or female at birth. Gender, in contrast to sex, is not physiology, but stereotypical roles, behaviors, and attributes that are associated with a particular gender. At the same time, gender identity is an innate psychological self-identification of a person with a certain gender, and not necessarily the one registered at birth.

Gender expression is an external manifestation of a person’s gender identity. It is not directly related to gender identity. That is, not all people outwardly manifest the social signs of the gender they identify with.

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