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Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: Gender, Sex & Sexual and Romantic Orientation

Definitions and Resources

What are Gender, Sex & Sexual and Romantic Orientation?

Gender is "a set of cultural constructs describing characteristics that are historically related to notions of femininity, masculinity, women, men, nonbinary people, or social norms."

Sex is "a set of characteristics associated with reproduction and biology that generally assign individuals into categories of male and female. Also see: Sex Assigned At Birth."

Sexuality or Sexual and Romantic Orientation "is a person's physical, romantic, emotional, aesthetic, and/or other form of attraction to others. Often called Sexual Orientation, though some people split sexual and romantic orientation. In Western cultures, gender identity and sexual orientation are not the same. Trans people can be straight, bisexual, lesbian, gay, asexual, pansexual, queer, etc. just like anyone else. For example, a trans woman who is exclusively attracted to other women would often identify as lesbian."

"While sexual behavior involves the choices one makes in acting on one's sexual orientation, sexual orientation is part of the human condition. A person's sexual activity does not define their sexual orientation; typically, it is the attraction that helps determine orientation."

All definitions taken from the LGBTQ+ Terminology List, NIU Center and Sexuality Resource Center.

Gender, Sex & Sexual and Romantic Orientation: A Reading List

Campus Resources related to Gender, Sex & Sexual and Romantic Orientation

The Gender Unicorn

Gender Unicorn infographic. At the left is a cartoon purple unicorn—above is a thought bubble with a rainbow inside, with the rainbow representing “Gender Identity.” In the center of the unicorn’s body is two overlapping hearts (one red, one orange) that represent who a person is “Physically Attracted to” (orange) and “Emotionally Attracted to” (red). In the pelvic region is an image of a blue and red DNA double-helix which represents “Sex Assigned at Birth.” To the left of the unicorn is a dotted green line that represents “Gender Expression.” To the right of the unicorn are headings, icons, and color-coded arrows which correspond to those on the unicorn. At the top is “Gender Identity” and a three aqua-green arrows pointing to categories on the right: female/woman/girl; male/man/boy; and other gender(s). Below is “Gender Expression” with three lime green arrows pointing to feminine, masculine, and other. Below that is “Sex Assigned at Birth” and three small circles representing female (orange), male (aqua-green), and other/intersex (purple). Below is “Physically Attracted to,” represented by an orange heart and three orange arrows pointing to woman, man, and other gender(s). At the bottom is “Emotionally Attracted to,” which is represented by a red heart and three red arrows pointing to women, men, other gender(s). At the bottom left is a link to

Trans Student Educational Resources. (2015). The Gender Unicorn.

Researching Gender, Sex & Sexual and Romantic Orientation


Videos on Gender, Sex & Sexual and Romantic Orientation

Warning: This video contains strong language. Viewer discretion is advised.