September 7, 2018
Sexuality & Gender Terms Defined
Pansexual. Cisgender. Sapiosexual. Gender Queer. Gender Fluid. Agender. Aromantic. Demisexual. Gender Non-confirming. Transgender. Award-winning activist, Aida Manduley, joins Jess on the podcast to discuss terminology related to sex and gender. Which terms are appropriate and which are not? And how we can celebrate inclusion and learn from our own mistakes. Listen below to learn more!
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This is a computer-generated rough transcript, so please excuse any typos. This podcast is an informational conversation and is not a substitute for medical, health or other professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the services of an appropriate professional should you have individual questions or concerns.
Sexuality & Gender Terms Defined
Welcome to the Sex With Dr jazz podcast. I’m Jessica O’Reilly, your friendly neighborhood sexologist. Before we get started, I want to say a big thank you to at Desire Resorts for their support. I’m heading to Desire in October and January. It’s a clothing optional environment with two locations on the Mayan Riviera. Check them out at Desire Resorts. As you know, if you’ve tuned in before my partner, the love of my life, Brandon often joins me for these podcasts. And moving forward, Brandon is going to be on the air for almost every episode if I can pin him down because you folks seem to like him, and I really like him, too. And I find that I’m more myself. I’m more calm. I’m ultimately better at my job when he’s next to me for a number of reasons, including the fact that it’s actually really tough to be a woman in the public eye and having a man by your side means that you receive less harassment, less vitriol, and fewer Dick pics. But also he’s just a really funny, empathetic, insightful person, and he brings a perspective as a non sexuality, non relationship professional that I just don’t offer. So I was hoping that Brendan would be here today, but I’m in Atlanta for Sexton South, and he’s in Toronto doing his business thing so he couldn’t be here. But Brandon is the inspiration for this episode. He’s excited to be a part of the podcast, so he says, but he’s mentioned that he’s nervous because talking about sex and relationships and gender can feel really stressful for him because of all the new terminology. So he’s kind of afraid to use the wrong words. So here’s what Brandon has to say on the topic with apologies that he’s not live with us right now. I know that it’s my job to educate myself on the proper use of pronouns when I’m identifying somebody, whether it’s transgender, lesbian, gay, straight, queer by it’s my job. I understand that, but I didn’t grow up around a lot of people who identified other than their visible gender. Even right now, I’m already thinking about things I’m like, how should I say this? And I don’t want to be rude or insensitive in conversation with other people, and until we all adopt the use of they, my question is, how do I go about demonstrating my willingness to use the appropriate terms? But if I make a mistake not making a big deal out of it being apologetic for the mistake because I do find that in certain environments, I’m afraid to contribute for fear of saying the wrong thing. And that may sound really silly, but it’s the truth. I’m just afraid of using the wrong thing and then looking like an idiot or looking like I’m not sympathetic. And then if I do apologize, am I making too big of a deal out of it? And I just want to make sure that I’m being as inclusive as I can while being very sensitive to the identifiers of those people around me. So even though Brandon can’t be here today, we’re going to be talking about this topic and defining a number of sexuality and gender related terms so that Brandon and you, the listener, can become more familiar and comfortable with new and evolving language that is really essential to communication, to respect and really the fundamental human rights. Joining me today is Adam Mandalay Awardwinning activist known for big earrings and building bridges. Y’all can’t see her. And I’m not supposed to break that third wall, but these are some big strawberry earrings. They’re fruiting, they’re juicy, and they’re beautiful. Yeah, they really are beautiful. Latinx sex educators and therapists innovating with the Women of Color, Sexual Health Network, JP MeetingPoint and the center for Sexual Pleasure and Health. Thank you for being here excited, too. Now you’re a really bright person. When I told Brandon I was going to be interviewing you, the way I described you was super smart, way smarter than me. Highly articulate. Brandon seems to think I’m the smartest person in the world. So he was like, Whoa, I’ve got that like a six year old. I’ve got an essence six year old phase where they still think you’re so smart. I’ve been keeping them stringing along there for 17 years, so I don’t think that Brandon is alone in being nervous but well intentioned, eager to learn. And now that he’s on the podcast more. But just in real life, people are nervous that they’re going to say the wrong thing or use an outdated term. I know Brandon, for one, who’s a people pleaser, is really concerned about being tried in the court of public opinion. And I’ve told him that the onus is on it’s on him to learn and do the research and even practice. And I know he’s been doing this, but I would like to today provide at least an introductory guide for listeners who want to better understand all these terms that weren’t around when they were growing up, weren’t around when they were in high school, weren’t even around five or ten years ago, right in popular use. So I think we’ll start with the basics. We’ll start with LGTBQ plus, LGTBQ A plus, perhaps. So let’s go with LGTBQ to begin with. Yeah, for sure. Also to kind of preface this. It’s really important to know these diverse acronyms and these names. And one of the things I want to make sure to talk about, too, though, is the importance of not feeling like you have to memorize every single word to perfection, because that drive for perfection is actually what messes a lot of us up, especially those of us who might be very well intentioned and excited and just don’t want to hurt people. It’s more important to educate yourself on an ongoing basis and learn as many terms as you can, certainly, and also just be willing to be corrected, be willing to be wrong, grow comfortable with the mess up. The repair is actually what’s most important than never making a mistake because we’re going to make a mistake. And if we don’t have the resilience and the skills to fix it, that’s when we actually get in trouble. And that’s when I see a lot more pain happen because we’re all going to mess up at some point. Right. So in terms of the acronym LGTBQ LGBTQ, however, you want to spell it, sometimes it has a plus at the end, sometimes an IA at the end. It’s an acronym that stands for a lot of different identities kind of all smushed together. So we have lesbian. We have bi or bisexual, we have gay, we have queer. Sometimes people use questioning as well, particularly if you’re seeing or working with youth. That queue sometimes gets duplicated so that you have questioning in there as well. But adults can be questioning, too. Let’s not say that that’s just a youth issue. And a lot of these terms are terms for sexual orientation. The one that’s different in there is trans or transgender, because that’s not a term around sexual orientation. That’s a term for gender identity, which is separate but related to the other labels that are in the spectrum in that acronym. So why don’t we start with trans, then? So transgender as a term it’s transgender, not transgendered because we don’t say male or female. And I had some teachers I was training who kept saying transgendered, and I kind of kept reminding that it was transgender, and it’s not the end of the world to make a mistake once or twice. I do it. Yeah. Right. We’re all going to do it. Yeah. Exactly. So let’s talk about what trans means transgender. Yeah. So trans is a word that’s seen a lot of evolution over the years, and particularly nowadays, a lot of folks are just using the shortened version trends to even be more inclusive and sometimes not specify so that people can find themselves within that word however they want. So we have another term that’s more outdated, very tied to the medical industry of transsexual. And that’s a word that some people still use and feel that it’s important to them, particularly if they’re seeking any kind of medical transition, whether that’s hormones or surgery or anything like that. You’ll find some older folks using it because, again, that was the term that was more common. That was the term that you had to adapt in order to get the treatment that you needed. Right. And so now what we’re seeing is that as a lot of people have spoken up, we have a lot more information about trans identities and trans people. There’s a little bit of a loosening of some of the requirements to be trans. So that’s also why you’ll see a lot of older people who may be adhered to gender roles in a way that some people didn’t agree with some people like, oh, why is this trans woman so feminine? We didn’t fight for women to have to be wearing pink dresses all the time. That’s like the Caitlyn Jenner story. I remember an article coming out from CIS white woman talking about how Caitlyn Jenner isn’t her type of woman because Caitlyn Jenner’s first images were, I think, in tight, tight pants or skirts and corsets. And that’s not what a regular woman wears. And this woman said, a regular woman, a woman that all the women I know are walking around in yoga pants. First of all, those aren’t yoga pants. Let’s just go back to the east and talk about what people actually wear and wore to practice yoga. It wasn’t the sexy stuff we’re wearing today that holds in the belly and lifts the buttocks and all these other things that they do. I’m being critical here because I hate pants. I’m not wearing pants. Now. I support that. I support the no Pants Club. It’s like a once a year thing where I wear pants. But anyhow this writer was saying that that’s not what a woman is. That’s a hypersexualized version of a woman. And the truth is, you’re more likely to find me in a short skirt, maybe not a corset, but then yoga pants because women, whether they’re trans or CIS or consider themselves femme or not, can wear whatever the hell they want to wear. So I interrupted you, but it’s an interesting, I think, evolution of what trans can be because you can transition, say, for instance, you’re assigned male at birth and you transition to female, and you all don’t have to wear corsets. But you can’t, right? Exactly. Part of it is about choice. And part of it is about learning the history of how not just these terms of all, but how they were used and who was using them. So the reason that so many older trans people had to maybe be a quote, unquote, hyper version of a gender is because if they didn’t, they wouldn’t get the care that they deserve. They wouldn’t get medical care. They would have to jump through 1000 Hoops to get even decent health care, regardless of it was gender related or not. So I’m not saying that any of these folks, their gender was performed in a fake way, but that there were social constraints around how they could perform their gender if they wanted to be safe, if they wanted to get access to care. And so now there’s still a lot of barriers to trans care. As a therapist and an educator, I have to work with a lot of clients where they’re struggling real hard with the systems and with all the paperwork that they have to provide if they want any kind of particularly medical care, or to change their IDs or to change their driver’s licenses. And so transgender or trans if we wanted to find it kind of in its most Broadway is someone whose gender currently is not the same as they were assigned at birth. And I say gender, not sex. So some people might say sex assigned at birth, because, honestly, what we assign when someone is born is often gender. We usually don’t say a female was born, a male was born. A doctor might say that, but most commonly, people say, oh, it’s a boy, it’s a girl. Gender reveal. Parties are all the rage, and it’s like, it’s a boy, it’s a girl. There’s a lot of reasons for that, including cultural ones, that there can be baggage or excitement around having a particularly gendered child. And those parties are kind of a problem, too, in terms of what expectations they place on a child and the family. So if we want to think about trans identities, it’s really important to know why they have been the way they have been throughout history and why today. We also have a lot of new terms evolving. And I think that that’s really interesting and beautiful. There’s a lot of resistance from some people around. Oh, these are all new fangled terms. I’m like, well, words. We didn’t just get a set of words from birth and never will they change again. And if you can integrate Google, right. You use Google and calm down. Exactly. Google wasn’t a word. I don’t think I don’t know the etymology of Google, but there’s a lot of language that has evolved in my short time on this planet. Well, not that short anymore. My middle time on this planet, these words didn’t exist. And I’ve been able to integrate Google as hard as it’s been into my dictionary. And sometimes people say, oh, it’s really hard. And I always remind them of Arnold Schwarzenegger. If you can say Arnold Schwarzenegger, you can do anything when it comes to language, right? You see this with Asian names or Indian names like white teachers saying, oh, it’s so hard to pronounce. You can say Arnold Schwarzenegger. That’s one of the hardest words to say. Yeah, you can say a lot of words if you want to. So in terms of offensive language, once in a while, I see people still tossing around language like tranny. Those are words that are hurtful, and it’s time to eliminate from our vocabulary. So the appropriate language is trans. Somebody who feels their agenda that they weren’t assigned at birth, and then the opposite of that would be CIS. Yeah. Cisgender. So when people say CIS female or CIS male, can you just clarify what that means? Because I know people struggle. I know. Brandon, for instance, has asked me several times. Yeah. So if you’re SIS, you’re someone who when you were born, someone said, It’s a boy, it’s a girl. And you still feel pretty chill about that designation. You maybe don’t feel like you need any kind of medical transition process. You don’t feel like you need to change gendered aspects to such a degree, that means you’re not a woman or not a man or not what you were assigned at birth. And that’s about it. So some people feel upset about being called cisgender. They feel like it’s a slur, which I can understand if there’s a word that you don’t know and being called that might be scary, but also, it’s fine. It’s not actually a slur. It’s a word being used to try to balance out the playing field a little bit. So it’s not. Oh, trans people and the regular people, the normal people. So cisgender is just a word to designate someone whose gender identity is the same as it was when they were born or that it’s not so significantly different that they need another word or another identity. So part of what’s happening, too, right? Is that some people who are presumed to be cisgender are actually questioning. And sometimes that’s a little bit of what freaks them out to be called cisgender. But then it’s a question of what label would you want to use? And why are you? It’s important to interrogate if we’re feeling really uncomfortable with the word being used for why sometimes white people are upset to be called white. I’m curious. Why is that feeling? What about whiteness is upsetting you? And let’s talk about what’s upsetting about whiteness. I’d love to have that conversation with you. Well, I think it’s partly a matter of privilege of being the norm. I come from a Jamaican background where race is something we talk about, and we call it what it is like, everything that’s observable to us. Unfortunately. Right. And so I know that when I was younger, I would say something like a white people, white people, white people would get all uncomfortable. But I think that has to do also with this desire to be post racial and this notion that there’s a colorblindness which does not exist. Yeah, you can’t be color blind. Yeah, you can be color blind. And if you have a medical condition, which means that there are certain colors that you do not actually see, unless that’s the case, then no, you can definitely see race. Come on. And most of those people can see race, right. Because Brandon, for instance, is actually color blind, but he can only not see certain shades of green and Gray. And there are no green people. I hate when people say, like, I love all people. They’re black, white, blue, purple. No, there’s no purple. There are purple people eaters. Yeah, but there’s no difference. That’s okay. Because it rhymes and it’s in a song. But yes. So let’s talk a little bit about gender identity versus sexual orientation. So within that LGTBQ, all those letters, with the exception of T, tend to refer to sexual orientation. So sexual orientation refers to what sexual orientation is the attraction or desire on a sexual level that people have for other people. So sexual orientation can also mean, hey, I don’t actually have a sexual attraction. And there’s a word for that, too. So you have asexual for someone who doesn’t experience sexual attraction to others or primarily doesn’t. And again, there’s a lot of language to nuance that idea. So you have asexual. You can also be on the asexual spectrum or the Gray spectrum, which all really talk about the varieties of how sexual attraction works for people. So what we’re seeing a lot today with terminology around this is that it’s getting more and more specific. Now, again, that’s one of those things that some people have resistance to. They’re like, oh, are people just trying to be special? Are people trying to make something too complicated? And sure, maybe there’s the one person who wants to do that. But mostly people are just trying to define themselves and be clear. Right. And I think it’s really fascinating and beautiful that we can move and morph language to better reflect our realities, better reflect our inner worlds. And the more words we have. Yes, maybe the more complex because the more choices we have. But then the more we can get close to who we truly are in any given moment. So to me, this explosion of gender terms or gender pronouns or wording is actually very heartening and hopeful because it means that people are being creative. They’re trying to explore themselves and name things in ways that maybe they didn’t feel like they could before. And to me, that’s beautiful. And it does still make me nervous, like, oh, God, there’s so many times I have to make sure that I keep up with them, especially as an expert. Exactly. If I’m someone that gets hired to talk about this, I should be keeping a pulse on what’s going on. Right. So sexual orientation. That’s what it refers to. Historically, when we’ve talked about sexual orientation, we were also lumping in romantic interest in there, too. So if we talk about, let’s say, a lesbian, usually we don’t mean to say, oh, a woman who only likes to have sex with women, we would assume that there’s also some kind of romantic component of partnership there, because otherwise we’re just reducing it to sex. And that has some social implications. But now we also have the word for romantic orientation or aesthetic orientation. And so we can actually be a little bit more specific. So if you’re talking with someone just on the street when they say sexual orientation, they probably mean this, like bundle of things. So sexual attraction, romantic attraction, et cetera. But if you’re talking to someone who has a deeper level of language and specificity, they could be talking only about the sexual attraction. So that’s an important thing when you’re trying to figure out what words to use. Where are you? What is the level of gender and terminology that’s present there usually. And how can you work with that rather than going with the most broad or the most specific term context matters a lot. And so if sexual orientation generally refers to attraction and romantic attraction might be bundled in there. What about gender identity? So gender identity is a person’s internal sense of what gender they are. There’s really no definition of this term that isn’t a little bit circular. So we’re using the term to define the term itself, and there’s a reason for that. We don’t exactly know how gender identity is formed. So we’ve talked about gender, and gender has a lot of different components. So gender has the external components of performance, where it’s how you talk, how you dress, what kind of words you use even. And it’s all about how you present that to the world. And gender identity. Identity refers to the internal piece of it, how you see yourself, what you understand yourself to be. And science is still trying to figure out where some of these things come from and how they develop. And there’s a lot of really interesting science out there. But we don’t have a definitive answer. And frankly, I don’t think we ever will. No, because even if we find that something occurs in 99.9% of cases, an outlier is nonetheless valid for the individual. If you experience something that is different, it’s like medication can work in a specific way, 99.9% of the time. But if you have a specific reaction, we don’t say, oh, no, that doesn’t count. Yeah. If you have a reaction, if you have a feeling, if you have an experience, that’s perfectly valid. Right. And I mean, many roads can lead to Rome. So for some people, it’s been really important historically to argue that you are born this way because that’s tied to a lot of rights. It’s tied to a lot of legislation. A lot of people don’t get the care and respect they need and the dignity they deserve if it’s seen as a choice. So we’ve gone really hard on the language of we’re born this way. We’re born this way. And I’m sure that some of us are and that’s unchangeable. However, I think it’s also possible from what I’ve seen and from what I know that some of us may choose this, and some of us may expand our desires in ways that are not just about DNA, because also what we do know and have abundant evidence for is that our DNA and the way that our bodies work changes with experience and changes with time. We’re not just born with a molecular structure that then, does not have any input from the environment. So the whole nature versus nurture is a little bit BS. It’s both. It’s always going to be both. Even the brain we’re learning is more plastic than we ever realized. And those essentialist arguments, especially around being gay. I think we’re really just tied to a heated climate of homophobia, and hopefully over time is on the decline, and we cannot worry about whether it’s essential, whether it’s nature or nurture. And as you said, there’s always going to be a mix of the two with gender identity. I want to talk about a couple of terms. I want to talk about gender fluid, gender nonconforming and gender queer, and what those terms mean because especially if you have younger people in your household or in your life, you’re going to hear this type of language. Yeah. And with a lot of these, they’re still evolving. Which is, I think, right on back to hey, things are going to change. We are going to adapt and evolve. Don’t get too caught up with learning the textbook definition right now. Just have a basic understanding of what it is. Be open to changing your mind. That’s like the biggest advice I have pretty much for anything. Be open to changing your mind and being challenged. So gender fluid usually refers to someone whose gender it says it on the tin is fluid. Right. So this person might use gender fluid to refer to their gender expression or identity is another thing. So some of these terms, depending on how people use them, can refer to their external presentation and or their internal sense of their gender. So someone might consider themselves gender nonconforming, if generally their external appearance does not conform to what their society or their culture expects for the gender that they are or the gender that they are seen as. So you may have people who are to themselves cisgender identified, or they’re like I was told I was a girl when I was little, I still feel like a girl. I just wear a very masculine clothing and that feels good. I’m still a woman. But maybe I’m a gender nonconforming woman because I’m not seen as, quote, unquote, a very particular kind of woman. So gender nonconforming often is about external appearance, not exclusively. Right. Gender fluid, again, is about someone who has a little bit more fluidity. You might see them in a very particular kind of gender presentation. One day different kind of presentation, another for some people, if it’s an internal sense of gender, it’s how they feel about themselves will maybe be different. So one day they might feel more like a man. Some day they might feel more like a woman, and that’s still very binary. Right. I’m just keeping it a little basic. But the fluidity of gender is the crux of that. Gender queer is a term that is pretty expansive and also variable. So gender queer is one that I use for myself. And basically it holds a lot of the same pros and helpful bits as queer does for sexuality. So when you say your queer, it basically says, I’m not straight. But I’m not explaining a ton about what it is. Sometimes that means that you get to have a bigger conversation and have more room to play in. And so. Similarly, folks who are gender queer usually identify as outside the realm of male or female or man or woman. Maybe it’s a combination, basically. Hey, it’s more complicated than that statement. It’s complicated on Facebook, relationships. I’ve always liked the term queer, and I came of age, and I studied sexual diversity studies, actually in Undergrad. That was my major. It’s a real thing in Canada, no clue that I would go into this field in the way that I have. But I remember that even writing papers at the time, if you did want to use the word queer, you’d have to put a footnote as to how you were reclaiming that term. That has shifted since the Seventies. When I went to school. Since that time, it shifted. And I think gender queer is also a really interesting one, because to me, what queer means when I say I’m queer is that it’s none of your business, right? And that’s my right. I have no obligation to explain anything to anybody. I mean, as a public figure, I do talk a little bit about my life now, mostly just on this podcast, not anywhere else. But I also have the right not to write. And I’m very lucky with listeners. I’ll give a little bit of information and also say I have this story. Here’s the lesson. But I can’t tell you the whole story because I want part of my life to be private. And so with genderqueer, I wonder if people use it in a similar fashion. Some people definitely do. Some people definitely do. And that’s the thing. Again, a lot of these terms, people often use more than one to describe themselves. So that’s another common difference. If you’re someone who’s cisgender, you probably haven’t had to think a lot about your gender. Maybe you haven’t had dysphoria around gender specifically. That’s pretty common if you’re cisgender to not have that experience. The dysphoria is not the requirement for being trans. That is a requirement if you want to have a diagnosis of gender dysphoria. But you can be trans without having had any kind of dysphoria. But also Dysphoria is really common, given the society that we live in. So for a lot of the way that these terms are used, it’s usually in a little bit of a package, so someone might identify as trans. They also might identify as genderqueer. It’s kind of whatever mix makes sense for that person. And what I encourage people to have is, again, an open mind and curiosity, not invasive curiosity, but a curiosity that remains in conversation to know that, hey, we’re using this language. I might not know the full extent of how you’re using it. And maybe it’s time to ask. And maybe it’s not. But I can’t presume to know the full story just by knowing you for five minutes and even knowing you for 20 years. Well, you bring up something interesting, and that’s about how much you should ask of somebody. So nobody really wants to be asked about their genitalia generally, unless you’re very close. Yeah. Are we going to have sex imminently, then maybe we can talk about my genitals. People don’t tend to want to be asked about what they do sexually. Right. So when is it appropriate to ask when and how do you ask about pronouns? What do you do when you misgender? Because it happens to all of us. We make assumptions like I can look at you and say, you look femme to me. That may not be the way you’re looking to express yourself, but it might be how I interpret it. So when do we ask, how do we ask? How do we make sure that we’re being respectful but not invasive? Yes. Great question for me. The first thing to consider is context. Where are you? Are you in line at the grocery store seeing a person who you think is trans? That’s certainly not the time to ask them about pronouns or their genitals. It’s probably not the time to talk to them at all. But if you’re a doctor or medical provider, that’s going to do a sexual assault examination kit, or you’re a doctor who’s going to do an STI test. Yes. Then it makes a ton of sense to talk about a person’s genitals. And again, in that case, it’s about asking without assumptions. So I’ll dial it back. If you’re in a public place or if you’re at a job where you’re not supposed to generally be talking about genitals, just don’t ask about genitals. But asking about pronouns is really common and usually really important. If it’s back to school season. For a lot of folks, some people are teachers are going into classrooms. The way that I would suggest is making space for people to share their pronouns but not requiring it. And the reason I say not requiring it is because there are very good reasons for some folks to not want to share. One of them is lack of trust that people will actually use their pronouns and preferring to not share it and just get pronounced. However, than sharing it and being very obviously misgendered. A lot of people will prefer to just let other people do whatever they’re going to do because it hurts less. It feels less bad if they just are ignorant, then if you shared yourself and told them what to do and they still didn’t care or just didn’t manage to do it correctly. So the way that I would ask about that is, hey, my pronouns are XYZ or my pronouns. Are they them? What are yours? If you’re opening up a classroom or a session and doing kind of a go around with names, you can say, hey, I’m encouraging us to share things like name pronoun, share as much or as little as you’re comfortable with. So giving the element of choice is really valuable. Also explaining what a pronoun is. So a lot of people, if you tell them pronoun, they’re like what can we go back to grammar, please? What part of face is that? They’re no longer teaching it? Can we also teach about Jared’s and present participles while we’re at it, please? Now, this is what you need, Brandon. Your writing is fabulous, but don’t you want to know why it’s who versus whom? There you go. There you go. We’re getting nerdy as hell in here. Yes. Direct and indirect. Where’s the object? It’s a direct object. So if you’re going to say pronoun, usually helping explain it to folks is good. So usually what I do is when I’m doing a presentation, I’ll say, hey, my name is IDA. My pronouns are they them? And what that means is that if you’re going to compliment my really nice boots instead of saying her boots are great or his boots are great, you would say their boots are great. So I usually put humor in there. I’ll usually use compliments to keep it a positive and cute atmosphere. And sometimes I’ll just quiz people in the middle of a presentation, especially if it’s about gender. I’ll be like, hey, reminder what’s my pronoun and they’ll have to kind of remember and keep using it in the session. So there are so many ways to ask. The main thing that I would say is, again, be open and know your context. Don’t make it a forced activity. Give people choice whether they share their pronouns or not. If you don’t know how to use a pronoun that someone says you can ask for clarification, like, hey, actually, I haven’t heard that pronoun used before. Can you tell me a little bit more about how it would be used if I were referring to you? Like, for example, Z is another example, right? So someone might just not know how to conjugate that. So Z is Ze. The other versions of it are here and Heres, which is Hi, R or Hirs. Some people also use Z and Z. There are so many varieties of how these work that you can just ask for clarification. Fewer people are using Z these days. Is that true? More people are using they them. I see a lot of people using they them because it’s easier and we’re actually all familiar with it. We use they all the time all the time. Right? If I say, oh, who’s that on the phone or what did they say on the phone? Exactly right. I don’t know. Necessarily the gender. It can be a challenge just from a language perspective, to integrate they into the singular, but it’s doable. It’s doable. And they’re already doing it. Mistakes. And that’s okay. What do you do when you make a mistake? I know. I remember making a mistake. It was a long time ago before I think I was an undergrad and I misgendered someone and I made this huge deal and kept apologizing and I’m like, I look back. I’m like, I’m an idiot, but what do you do when you misgender. Honestly, the best course of action. Usually, right. Not 100% of the time, but usually it’s just correct yourself briefly, apologize and move on. You don’t have to make a big deal out of it. Usually making a big deal out of it is something that centers the person who made the mistake rather than the person who was harmed by the misgendering. And it becomes this very performative thing. And even if it’s very earnest, right? Most of us don’t like to mess up. In general, most of us don’t like to hurt people. But if we just over explain and over, oh, my God, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. We’re not actually helping that person. And it’s very common for people to do that over explaining, especially if they have things like PTSD or anxiety or a variety of situations in their life or conditions where they were trained, that they had to overly apologize. So you’ll also see that a lot of times with folks that were raised as women, they’ll be like, oh, God, I have to be very polite and very kind, and this was rude. So I have to fix it. So there’s a lot of reasons why people over explain, which is why when I’m working with other trans folks, I also encourage us and help us how to figure out. Okay, how much overexplaining can I actually hold? Right? There’s a balance to all of this, and there has to be space made for the fact that we’re all carrying a lot of different stuff. We all have a lot of different baggage, and it might not always be visible or readily apparent. So if you mess up, explain it very quickly and be done. Let’s say that you use the pronouns they and I was saying, oh, yeah. I met with Jess. She was they were great. And then just keep talking. You can make it very short if you’re in front of someone else. If you’re with the person, you can sort of look at them or move toward them, be like, sorry about that. And then keep moving. If at any point you’ve noticed that you’re doing it a lot with someone, you’re misgendering them a lot. It might make sense to send them a message and say, hey, I’ve noticed that I’ve been doing this. My apologies. I’ll keep working on it. It can be helpful for someone to know that you’re trying and that you care and that you’re noticing, because sometimes if we’re in a space and getting misgendered a lot, we’re like, do you even care? Do you notice what you’re doing, what’s going on? And I think sometimes it just rolls off the tongue because we are raised in this gender binary. And so we see everybody’s going to see me as a woman pretty much. I mean, I also go by she and her. But if I didn’t because there are people who look just like me. Well, not just like me, but who are secret twins. Yeah. I used to hear that all the time. They’d be like, you look like Lucy Lou, the racism twins. No, I don’t. Do you remember Tia Carrera from Wayne? Lucy Lou? Not even close, right? Yeah. The racist. So it’s an apology and move on and make an effort. And I think that that’s what people want to know is that they’re not going to be in big trouble when we make mistakes because it is new. I was even saying the word fetishizing earlier, and I was struggling with it. And some days I do. Some days I don’t. And that’s life, we make mistakes and don’t be married to having a particular kind of response from someone else, too. Right. So if you hear me on this podcast saying, hey, apologize, quickly, move on. Show that you care, but don’t hammer it into aggressively, and that doesn’t work for you and someone gets upset. It’s not that the advice was bad in this particular interaction that didn’t work. Advice was never bad. The advice itself can be useful. It’s just nothing is ever 100%. And so you will have situations where, given the mix of identities or traumas or experiences, it might not work. Right. Some people do want you to grovel and apologize. Very profusely. Now, that’s information that you have, right. So I’m a social worker. We’re extremely strength based. So we’re always looking at what’s the positive good thing about what happened. So if you have a situation where you do get scolded or someone is upset or someone’s sad, that’s no information that you have, which is amazing. Now, you know that with this person, your way of interacting might have to be different. And rather than seeing it as, oh, I fucked up. I’m the worst person. See it as a growing opportunity. See it as now I know. Now I have information how delightful. I think you can practice, too with pronouns. Yes. And people might say like, oh, now I have to practice. You practice lots of different things before we go on stage, we practice. Before you go into a job interview, you practice. You may not stand in front of the mirror and talk about your strengths, but you run over things. You run over language in your mind and ruminate every single day. So it really is. Doable I want to kind of lightening through some of these other terms if you don’t mind, let’s talk quickly about intersex. Yeah. So intersex is a name, usually a medical term for folks whose sex is not easily categorized as male or female, or who have a certain number of conditions, usually called disorders of sexual development. And I say that with my squinty eyes because we can say differences of sexual development rather than disorders. And it’s a more positive frame. So it’s usually for folks who are not as easily categorized, because what makes up sex is actually a bunch of things. A lot of people think, oh, it’s genitals. It’s not just genitals. You have genitals. You have secondary sex characteristics, like the fat distribution in your body or where hair grows and how thick and how long you also have the way that your vocal cords are. You have a lot of different pieces that actually make up those secondary sex characteristics that are influenced by hormones. So you also have hormone levels. You have your chromosomes, you have internal and external general appearance. There’s just so much that actually goes into sex that we don’t actually just have male or female. We’ve done that designation to make it very simplified. But sex is way more complex than that. So just because you have a lot of people that fit into the okay, you have this type of chromosome set up. You have this kind of genital set up. You have this kind of hormonal set up. That doesn’t mean that that’s the only thing that exists. And in fact, you have a lot of people who have most of the kit, most of that normative kit. And then there’s one outlier. So, for example, you’ll have folks with a hormonal condition that makes their appearance look very different than what might be expected for their sex or gender. But it’s a hormonal issue. And so intersex is for any of that variation that makes it a little bit harder to categorize. And one thing to know about intersex folks is that often as opposed to trans, people who are often fighting for procedures that they want. A lot of intersex folks are having to advocate against unnecessary procedures because a lot of the procedures that are done are not actually about function. They’re about cosmetic corrections, quote, unquote or making someone appear more normal. Exactly. So if a child is born and they’re, like, everything points to this being, quote, unquote a girl. But this clitoris is really large. We’re going to make it smaller. And so those are decisions that historically, doctors have sometimes made unilaterally. Sometimes they’ve made it in collaboration with a family. But then also, what was the family told about why the procedure was necessary or not? And so you have a lot of different procedures that people are fighting against. Some are useful and important and life saving. There’s a condition called hippospadias or hipospatius. I don’t actually know how to pronounce it. That’s fine. English is my second language, anyway, where the urethra sometimes is in unexpected places. And so some of those unexpected places can make it very difficult for someone to actually pee. And so there may be an intervention that has to address that. But that’s not the same as, oh, this clitoris is just a little too large, or this penis is a little too small. And so for intersex folks, a lot of it is in the domain of the body and the medicalisation of it. So that’s that piece. Yeah. And it’s interesting. You talk about all of these components that define gender into a binary of male or female. But we don’t look at any of those things, except one when a baby is born and we decide you are boy, you are girl. We look for penis. There penis absent. Right. That’s basically what they look at. It’s not like they’re doing chromosomal tests. It’s not like they’re doing hormonal tests. It’s not like they’re doing an ultrasound to look for the internal genetics. We actually, I don’t want to say diagnose. We assign gender even before. Right. If you can see something that looks like a penis on an ultrasound, you all are having a boy, and you can have your gender reveal party with your blue cake. Yeah. But if we don’t see a penis, then it’s a yellow cake. Now that’s less sexist. Yeah. All right. So generous. But cool. So that’s intersex. I think the old terminology we used to use just for so people make the connection would be hermaphrodite. Right. Exactly. And that is still used for animals. We don’t really use that. I mean, people are animals, for sure. But we use that for creatures that are not human generally. So that’s still a term that you’ll hear, but usually not in the context of people. Intersex is the preferred term and the correct term at this point. And again, here’s the other piece. A lot of people don’t actually know that they’re intersex when they’re born. A lot of people have their medical history shielded from them. There’s a really wonderful organization called Interact. It’s mostly a youth organization, but it’s a lot of intersex advocacy. They do legislation, they do education. So I would encourage people to check in about them and check in with them. They’re really great in terms of visibilizing intersex people and advocacy efforts, because, honestly, a lot of people just don’t know until something happens. Right. So sometimes people didn’t even have surgery or anything, like no one had any idea, and they hit puberty and they’re expecting to menstruate. But menstruation is not coming. And then they’re like, actually, you don’t have a uterus surprise. And so a lot of people just don’t know until something else gets them into a hospital. And then they realize, oh, your chromosomes are different or, oh, you don’t have this thing that we expected you to have, or your hormones are different. And it’s not something that they were raised with, which is also why, for some people, it’s less of a personal identity that they hold for many years. And it’s something that is related to some kind of medical space. And it’s more common than we realize. Yeah. It’s about as common as redheads, like one in 2000 babies. And so there’s a lot of different statistics that are thrown out there. Bottled red heads, I think non bottled. I think you have some red in there. Yes. I definitely have some red in there. Honestly, who knows at this point because there are many people who might be intersex and not know, never know. Yes. I’ve heard people find out much later in life as well. Yeah, right. It’s not always a puberty. Yeah. All right. I’m going to do really a lightning round here. Can you give me a definition of pansexual? Yes. Attracted to all genders. Excellent. Asexual asexual someone who does not experience sexual attraction to others most of the time. And yet there’s nuance. But there’s a gender, someone who does not identify with having a gender or an easily discernible gender aromatic someone who does not experience romantic attraction. So I may want to have sex with someone, but I may not want to be romantic and lovelydubby with them. Lovely demisexual. Someone who experiences secondary sexual attraction, which means that they’re probably not going to be sexually attracted to someone that they don’t already know very well. There’s usually the attraction that comes after getting to know someone or after having some other form of connection. And I think this is a very common one. Yes, it’s way more common. And a lot more people are using it these days because they’re like, oh, yeah. I don’t want to just randomly. Generally, I’m not randomly attracted to people, but after we have a long standing connection, then I developed sexual desire for them that would be classified as demisexual. And the same thing with Demi romantic. If you’re someone who doesn’t experience romance until after a big connection, there’s more debate around that one because they’re like, Well, isn’t that how all romance is? But for demisexual, I think it’s a little bit easier to explain. Right. And demisexual. I think a lot of people, it really resonates with them. Let’s do sapiosexual. So sapiosexual much contested term because of its potential for ableism within it. So Sapia sexual is a term that some people use when they say that what they’re attracted to or what gets them sexually attracted to someone is the person’s intellect, which again, right. If we want to apply an oppression or social justice, we’re like, that could be a problem. Again, if you’re basing your sexual desire on a person’s intellect, what does that mean? Actually, what is intellect? Because I said at the beginning that they’re so bright, there’s lots of different types of bright as well. Right. Exactly. There’s a lot of different kinds of intelligence. So with some of these words, right. The thing that I would ask people to consider is, what about this term feels important to you? What about this term can be harmful to other communities and how and where are you using it? Why does this one feel correct? So if someone says, oh, I want to use Sapio sexual because a mental connection is the primary and only thing that I feel attraction to, that might be a little bit different and might make sense for them. But I would just encourage a question like, oh, if it’s intellect, why is that the thing? And what would it mean if someone has a higher or lower intellect? What is the low intellect for you? What does that mean? Right. Sometimes I worry about it wreaking of kind of elitism. Right. Because do we have a term for attraction to money? Right. People are far more judgmental of that than they would be of intellect. Yes. Right. Or even aesthetic beauty. We tend to be quite judgmental of people who see aesthetic beauty as something very important. But intellect is for many of us something we’re born with. Right. So we judge people who just make money on their looks. Well, there are people who just make money on their ability to memorize. Right. Exactly. So be it. And I like the way you’re going through these. I feel like I should have made it a Jeopardy round. I’m not that complex yet. We’re lucky we have microphones. Yeah. With Sophia’s actual real quick, too. One thing that I also want to name for folks who are listening is sometimes you use a word and it makes sense, and sometimes you stop using it because it stops making sense for you. So for a while, I was like, oh, yeah. Sapie is sexual. That’s totally me. That fits because I care a lot about a mental connection with people. And then I realized, you know, what the way that that word is sometimes used in elitist context and ablest context means that I don’t actually want that term for myself anymore, and I don’t like it anymore. So I’m not going to use it. And I can still very easily share that. Hey, a mental connection is really important to me without using that terminology. So it’s okay if your words change, it’s okay if there are words that you use for yourself and now no longer use for yourself, that’s okay. So to wrap up, I’d like to close on with a final thought around why this terminology is important. And as you said, you don’t have to memorize it. But why is it important to engage with new terminology and pay attention to the way language evolves? And as you said, be open and curious. Well, so much of this is tied to people’s dignity, people’s selfworth, people’s selfesteem. So these are words that can really help someone feel seen and feel safe and like they’re cared for at the same time. If we use them wrong, they can make people feel unsafe, uncared for invisible. And so part of this is about human dignity and human rights. Part of this is because labels give us a rallying cry. They give us a banner to stand under and build community around. And community is crucial for social mobilization, for political change, for just living, just making a community so that you can survive and thrive, particularly if you don’t have biological family or you don’t have a cultural community. Otherwise, that can be really important. So it’s about mental health, it’s about political power, it’s about social change. It’s not just people are just trying to be special, right. And that kind of argument. I think it’s used a lot for terms that are newer, like, oh, that’s so complex for people who already feel special. Right. Exactly. You already have your normal. You already have recognition, the things that people are fighting for, the things that you are handed on a silver platter. So it’s easy to say, oh, they want to be special. Yeah. Usually it’s like we would just like some equal rights. That would be nice. That would be how delightful that would be, like access to medical care. Yes. Access to education, access to using a bathroom. Yeah. Well, that’s the thing that these terms so often mean that people are kept out or in a certain thing. So if you don’t use a certain term, sometimes you don’t get access to certain tests. I worked at Departments of Health in the US where, based on the forms that a person fills out, if they fill out that they’re female or that they’re male, they will be given different counseling options for STI testing, or they’ll be given different tests. Are we going to check this body part? This body part, this body part. They’ll get a pregnancy screening if they’re said to be, oh, you’re female. And that’s where it also gets messy working with electronic medical records and with doctors and hospitals because I could check the box female. That doesn’t mean I have a uterus for so many reasons. I could be someone who was born female and had my uterus removed. I could be born female. And there’s so many different reasons that can kind of go wrong anyway. So a lot of the ways that I’m educating providers is, look, give people the options and explain it to them and let them make the decision that works for them. They can help you a lot of times with all of this, with pronouns and names and terms, we get really flustered because we feel like we have to know all the answers and know them by ourselves. Which is another rant. I could go on, but will not. We don’t actually have to put all of that work on ourselves, right? It’s our duty to educate ourselves. But when we make meaning, we usually make meaning together, we don’t make meaning by ourselves for everything. So it’s okay to collaborate on that sort of thing. And if someone says I’m queer, you may have an idea, but maybe it might make sense to ask them, especially if you’re trying to have a sexual or romantic relationship with them. What does that mean for you? And same thing for medical care. Like we think about your most fundamental needs being health care doctors often asking questions like, oh, are you still married when they decide whether or not I need a specific STI test. Married. That’s just a piece of paper, right. There are other questions that they should be asking. Like, have you had any new sexual partners? Right. And so the language, but it has to do with their own discomfort, right. A lack of training, obviously. But it’s easier for people to avoid even saying the word sex, right. And these are the physicians that are about to put a cold metal spectacle of my vagina. Yes. I would like you to be able to say the word sex. I’d also like you to remember the screw because my first papayer, they forgot the screw. I was, like, 14, already super uncomfortable, and she was like, Oops, I forgot to screw. That’s definitely what I want to hear. I’m never going to do this again. Yeah, well, this has been really helpful. I think it’s going to be helpful. Not just to Brandon, but to listener. Certainly helpful to me. So thank you so much. Can you tell me, IDA, where can folks find you? As long as you have my name, it’s upsettingly. Easy to find me on the Internet, so pretty much everywhere. If you just Google my name, I’m neuron bomb on Twitter, I’m ayamandoula on Instagram and on Facebook, and pretty much everywhere else. My website is also aithamanddule. Com. So as long as you got my name, you got it. Okay. Perfect. Well, thank you so much for being here. Thank you for having me and thank you to Desire Resorts for their support of this podcast. Once again, I’m going to be down at Desire in October of this year and January of next year. I don’t really want to talk about 2019 yet, but they have a couple of clothing optional couples resorts on the Mayan Riviera, just south of Cancun. Brandon will be joining with me, so check them out at Desire Resorts. Thank you so much to you for listening. We release a new episode every Friday morning. Wherever you’re at have a wonderful week.