As noted in another post, sex and gender are not the same thing. Sex is typically seen as a binary trait that flows from reproductive function whether that be regarded as genital, chromosomal, gonadal, hormonal, or structural. There are, of course, biologically intersex persons born with karyotype disorders, androgen insensitivity disorders, and/or genital dysgenesis disorders. Accordingly, these cases might require intersex persons to be considered either a third sex or a combination of sexes.
Gender, however, is more complex and is not a monolithic construct. In short, gender is the perceived sex of a person and this can be both internal and external. Societies generally construct gender norms around sex such that the gender of individuals is typically presumed to be congruent with sex. This is known as cisgender. Here, gender identity and gender expression both align with social expectations. As an extremely broad umbrella concept, gender nonconformity means that the person’s gender identity or expression do not comply with a particular societal expectation. As a consequence, it is possible for a person to be gender nonconforming in one country but not in another. Gender norms are also not static. At one time, a woman who wore pants would have been gender nonconforming, but that is no longer the case today.
According to the National Institute of Medicine and the American Psychological Association, gender nonconformity is defined as “the extent to which a person’s gender identity, role, or expression differs from the cultural norms prescribed for people of a particular sex.” A gender nonconforming person does not necessarily see himself or herself as the opposite sex and might or might not be attracted to her or his same sex. Continue reading “What Is Gender Nonconformity?”