Self-perception defines gender

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Bibliographic references:

  • Abed, E. C, et al. (2019). Sexual and Gender Diversity Among Sexual and Gender/Sex Majorities: Insights via Sexual Configurations Theory. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 48(5), 1423–1441.


  • Drescher, J. (2009). Queer Diagnoses: Parallels and Contrasts in the History of Homosexuality, Gender Variance, and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 39(2), 427–460.


  • Suárez Muñoz, J. (2021). Autoridad de la primera persona como criterio de determinación y reconocimiento de la identidad de género. Daimon, Revista Internacional de Filosofía, nº 84, pp. 183-197.


Self-perception defines gender

Thanks to the concept of self-determination related to gender, “in certain legal frameworks, the “sovereignty [of] human will over any other physical consideration” is named, citing the Andalusian Integral Law of Transsexuality and also mentions the right to recognition of the legal personality of the “gender identity that each person defines for themselves”, as set out in the Yogyakarta Principles (ICJ 2007), one of the international reference documents in relation to the Human Rights of the LGBTI collective”. (Suárez, J. 2021, p184).

According to Suárez, J. (2021) gender self-determination is an approximation to the term transsexuality. It has emerged as a social policy different from the point of view that has always existed. In 1977, transsexuality was listed as a disease by the WHO, in 2018 it was removed as such and became a sexual condition, known under the name “gender incongruence”. This process is often attributed the term depathologization of transsexuality.

Typically, these transgender identities have been confused with homosexuality in many different cultures, which are based on gender beliefs that use traditional heterosexuality and cisgender identities as the only point of reference.

In the past, the definitions of sexual orientation and gender identity were understood as synonymous. But, according to Drescher, J. (2009), he has recently considered as separate categories, defining sexual orientation as an individual’s erotic response tendency or sexual attraction and gender identity as one feeling.

According to Drescher, J. (2009) these definitions could be confused by our gender beliefs, which are based on gender binarism, one of the oldest that exist. It refers to male/female but may also refer to the 19th century binarism of homosexuality/heterosexuality. And perhaps in the future, these gender beliefs may be based on the emerging 21st century binarism of transgender/cisgender.

Such gender beliefs affect many aspects of everyday life, such as whether we wear clothes or feel oppressed because of them. We can give the example of whether men should cry in public or what a woman should do with her life, such as to have children or quit her job to take care of them. These are assumptions that occur daily because of the gender beliefs we hold. Moreover, we manifest these beliefs daily, with everyday language, because, unconsciously or consciously, we assign a certain gender to people, to what they do, think and feel.

On the other hand, in research conducted by Abed, E. C, et al. in Archives of Sexual Behavior, 48(5). A few participants attempted to separate gender and sex. The participants in this research understand gender as a futile concept and speak of femininity and masculinity as overlapping and don´t depend on the context.

Social context influences gender and individual sex, and in this research, specific participants recounted their experiences. One of the participants, marked 90% on “female” for her individual gender/sex, and expressed those others saw her as a more aggressive person simply because she was a Black woman and that is why she had marked 90% on female and not 100%, she also explained that she had never seen herself as a woman, but always, as a Black woman. Just because of the idea that aggressiveness is a typically male trait.

Another reflection from this research is from participant Jeremy who thought about how growing up as an Asian American in a generally white population led him to do masculine activities to try to shed the stereotype, since one of the characteristics that has tended to be associated with being Asian is a thin body, or more feminine traits. And so, he relates that he did activities that highlighted his masculinity to break away from that. This is what influenced Jeremy’s decision to mark “masculine” on his individual sex diagram with a high strength.

Finally, we have come to the conclusion that gender is a social thing, something that does not always have to be attached to sex. According to Suarez, J self-determination defines your gender, so it does not have to identify with your sex. The statement, self-perception defines your gender, nowadays is a little more ingrained, but there are still many people who do not believe that clarification. This may be due to our gender beliefs and those of our culture, which were initially based on the male/female binarism, later expanded a bit by adding the terms homosexuality/heterosexuality. Perhaps it is because of the sole use of these gender binarisms that, some people, do not understand it and also, that is why the terms sexual orientation and gender identity have been confused. Also noteworthy is the emerging 21st century binarism, which includes the terms transgender and cisgender.

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