Sexual Orientation vs. Gender Identity and Expression

In today’s world, there are many identities within the LGBTQIPA2S+ community. It is highly important that we as professionals understand the very basics of each community. In order to create a more inclusive culture, a greater understanding of each community is vital. What is sexual orientation? What is gender identity and expression? We must use our most basic definitions as our starting points.

  • Sexual Orientation is who one is attracted to and is also the absence of attraction.
  • Gender Identity is how one knows and calls oneself
  • Gender Expression is the external manner in which one shows their gender.

Now, we will briefly describe each community to improve our basic knowledge:

  • L: Lesbian refers to a woman who is attracted to women. Both transgender and cisgender women can be lesbians.
  • G: Gay has a few meanings. 1) This can mean someone attracted to their own gender (men attracted to men or women attracted to women). 2) The common meaning is men attracted to men. 3) Both transgender and cisgender can also be gay.
  • B: Bisexual identities is being attracted to two or more genders.
  • T: Transgender: Transgender refers to having one gender identity that is not in alignment with the assigned sex at birth. A transgender person can be gay, straight, bisexual, asexual or any other orientation.
  • Q: Queer is an identity that means not straight or refers to the non-heterosexual community.
  • I: Intersex refers to a wide range of sexes outside of simple male or female.
  • P: Pansexual refers to attraction to all genders or refers to attraction regardless of gender.
  • A: Asexual people are not attracted to people of any gender.
  • 2S: Two –Spirit is an indigenous created word for traditionally recognized identities. It can mean different things to each nation and/or each person.

It is important to understand these basic concepts in order to create an environment where all people can freely work and be a cohesive organization.  A good common understanding can assist in preventing employee discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. It is also important that every person is an individual human being and will have characteristic that makes the person uniquely who they are.

Every person has a right in an environment that is free of discrimination (including any kind of harassment) based on sexual orientation or gender identity. No person cannot be harassed, demoted, terminated, receive less pay, be denied employment or treat any less favorably on the basis of sexual orientation of gender identity.

On the most basic human level, we can agree that each and every person regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression deserves to be treated with the same dignity, decency, and respect every other person receives. In the workplace, all people deserve the same opportunity to be productive members of society who are highly skilled, talented, and are credits to any organization. Organizations flourish when all members are welcomed, celebrated, and allow to work in environments conducive to common respect, understanding, and growth.

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