Gender, with our understanding of human rights, is being questioned/challenged today. Why should we hurt people not fitting into patriarchal gender expectations by stigmatizing them? Women who don’t want to have a baby or feel more interested in learning than in bringing up children. Men who want to take care of other people in nurturing ways and don’t feel like exerting violence over women or men. People who have sexual organs that don’t match the gender they feel they have. People who don’t feel they are men or women, but simply human…

Pic: He for She, a United Nations campaign

Gender is connected to various important issues today, including democracy, social change and human rights.

Sexual Orientation and Gender are fundamental parts of who we are:

Each of us has a biological sex — whether we are female, male, or intersex. Our gender is our social and legal status as men or women. And sexual orientation is the term used to describe whether a person feels sexual desire for people of the other gender, same gender, or both genders.

Each of us has a gender and gender identity. Our gender identity is our deepest feelings about our gender. We express our gender identity in the way that we act masculine, feminine, neither, or both. Some of us are transgender — which means that our biological sex and our gender identity do not match up.

Each of us also has a sexual orientation. You may be bisexual, gay, lesbian or straight. Or you may be “questioning” — unsure about your sexual orientation.

The more you understand biological sex, gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation, the more you may understand yourself and how you relate to other people. Because sex and gender are so complex, you may have many questions. You may wonder about your own sexual orientation or gender identity, or you may wonder about someone you know. You may have questions about how society views sex and gender — including homophobia, sexism, and transphobia.

We hope these pages give you the facts and tools you need to better understand sexual orientation and gender. If you have more questions or concerns, we can help.

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