By – Sampurna Padhi, Utkal University, MA Psychology

We all may have came across situations where we were asked to fill in forms what our gender is, for instance in hospitals, while making our identity cards, etc. Often the first thing that comes across our minds in such situations is to mention our gender corresponding to what physical characteristics we were born with or what we have been told we are. But there’s a difference between what our gender is and what we are born as! Sex refers to biological and physiological characteristics that identify females, males, or intersex people. It is typically assigned to a person at birth based on the physical characteristics, and is called as the “natal sex” of the person. Sex is a biological construct, whereas gender is a social construct which refers to how a person identifies self.

Gender Spectrum:

Gender, contrary to popular believes is not of two types, but can take up many forms, all of which together make the gender spectrum. Gender is a broad spectrum and a person may identify at any point in this spectrum or outside of it altogether. Someone who identifies with their biological sex is called “cisgender”. Someone who does not identify with their natal sex may identify themselves as non-binary, gender-queer, gender-neutral, transgender, or gender-fluid. It is important to know that not identifying with one’s biological gender is not a disorder or a disease, and it’s absolutely normal and healthy.

Gender Identity:

Gender identity refers to a person’s strongly felt, internal, and unique gender experience, which may or may not correlate to the person’s physiology or birth sex. For transgender people, their own internal gender identity does not match the sex they were assigned at birth.

While gender identity refers to how a person feels on the inside, gender expression refers to how they portray themselves to others. Typically, transgender people seek to align their gender expression with their gender identity, rather than the sex they were assigned at birth.

GLAAD, formerly known as the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, defines gender identity as “one’s internal, personal feeling” of belonging to a group of people who fall anywhere on or off the gender spectrum. Gender expression is defined as “External expressions of gender, expressed through one’s name, pronouns, dress, hairstyle, conduct, voice, or body traits,” according to GLAAD. These cues are classified as masculine and feminine by society, yet what is considered masculine and feminine evolves over time and varies by culture.

The following are some examples of gender identities that are commonly used:

1. Agender: A person who is agender does not identify with a specific gender or has no gender at all. Other labels that agenders may use to describe themselves include neutral-gender, null-gender, genderless, and so on.

2.Bigender:Bigenders frequently exhibit cultural masculine and feminine roles

3.Cisgender: A cisgender individual identifies with the gender to which they were born. A cisgender woman, for example, is someone who still identifies with the sex — female in this case — assigned to them by a doctor at birth.

4.Omnigender: A person who identifies as omnigender has all genders and experiences them all.

5.Pangender and polygender: People who identify as polygender or pangender have and experience parts of various genders and exhibit them.

6.Transgender: This is an umbrella term that refers to everyone who has an experience and identifies with a gender other than their assigned sex at birth. Although most people associate transgender with trans men and trans women, the term also refers to persons who identify as a gender other than man or woman, such as nonbinary and genderfluid individuals.

7. Two Spirit: In some Native American societies, two-spirit is a third gender that involves birth-assigned men or women adopting the identities and roles of the opposite sex. Two-spirit is a sacred and historical identity that can encompass, but is not limited to, LGBTQ identities.

8. Gender-fluid: A person who identifies as gender-fluid has a gender identity and presentation that fluctuates between and outside of society’s gender standards.

9. Gender outlaw: A gender outlaw is someone who refuses to be defined by society’s notion of “male” or “female.”

10. Demigender: This is a gender identity in which you have a partial but not complete attachment to a specific gender identity or the concept of gender.

Sexual orientation:

Now, gender identity is not to be confused with one’s sexual orientation. The physical, romantic, and/or emotional attraction that a person has towards another person is referred to as sexual orientation. Sexual orientation and gender identity are not the same thing. A person who changes from male to female and is only attracted to men, for example, is typically identified as a straight woman. Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, demisexual, and other sexual orientations are there, some of which we will discuss in the following section.


Time has passed, and opinions have shifted, as has the terminology used to discuss sexual orientation and gender identity. As a result, the well-known L.G.B.T. acronym has gained a few extra letters — as well as a slew of new terms related to sexuality and gender.

There’s also I, which is for intersex; A, which stands for ally (or asexual, depending on who you’re talking to); and a plus sign, which stands for everyone else who isn’t included.

  • Gay and Lesbian:

It’s crucial to start with the fundamentals, because “gay” and “lesbian” are as fundamental as they get. Gay became the mainstream term to refer to same-sex desire in the late 1960s and early 1970s as “homosexual” grew to feel clinical and disparaging. As the gay liberation movement gained attraction, the phrase “gay and lesbian” began to acquire popularity. Although “gay” is still sometimes used as a blanket phrase, it now also applies to men, as in “gay men and lesbians.”

  • Bisexual:

Bisexuals are those who are attracted to people belonging to the same gender identity as them as well as people with different gender identities. Typically a bisexual person can be described as someone who is attracted to both men and women.

  • Transgender:

People whose gender identity or gender expression differs from the biological sex they were assigned at birth are referred to as transgender.

  • Queer:

A term that is frequently used to describe someone who does not fit neatly within the male/female gender dichotomy. They can have both typically masculine and feminine characteristics, or none at all.

  • Intersex:

Biological sex traits that aren’t normally connected with male or female bodies are referred to be intersex. Intersexuality has nothing to do with gender identity or sexual orientation.

  • Asexual or “ace.”:

Someone who experiences little to no sexual attraction. They are not to be confused with “aromantic people,” who experience little or no romantic attraction. Aromantic persons do not necessarily identify as asexual, and asexual people do not always identify as aromantic. In general, some persons (asexual or not) identify with a romantic orientation that differs from their sexual orientation.

  • Gender Fluid:

People whose identities vary or fluctuate use this term. On certain days, these people may identify or express themselves as more masculine, while on others, they may identify or express themselves as more feminine.

  • Pansexual:

Someone who is drawn to persons of all genders and sexual orientations.Alternatively, someone who is drawn to a person’s traits regardless of gender identity. (The word “pan” signifies “all,” rejecting the gender binary indicated by “bisexual,” as others contend.)

  • Demisexual:

Someone who does not feel sexual attraction until they have developed a deep emotional, though not necessarily romantic, bond with another person.

  • Graysexual:

Someone who is sexually attracted on occasion but not on a regular basis; it is a kind of grey area between asexuality and sexual identity.

  • Plus sign (+):

It’s not just a mathematical sign, but a symbol for everything on the gender and sexuality spectrum. It covers all the other sexual orientations and gender identities that fall under the gender spectrum.

On 6 September 2018, the Supreme Court in its historic move struck down the part of section 377, a British-era provision, criminalizing consensual homosexual activities, and thus decriminalizing homosexuality in India. An amazing milestone indeed achieved by this nation.

Pride Parades

Pride parade (also known as pride march, pride event, or pride festival) is an outdoor event celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, non-binary and queer (LGBTQ) social and self acceptance, achievements, legal rights, and pride. The events also at times serve as demonstrations for legal rights such as same-sex marriage. On 27 June 2009, Bhubaneswar, the capital city of Odisha, saw its first gay pride parade.

Is homosexuality a mental disease?

In February 2014, the Indian Psychiatric Society (IPS) issued a statement in which it stated that there is no evidence to prove that homosexuality is unnatural: “Based on existing scientific evidence and good practice guidelines from the field of psychiatry, the Indian Psychiatric Society would like to state that there is no evidence to substantiate the belief that homosexuality is a mental illness or a disease.” In June 2018, IPS reiterated its stance on homosexuality saying: “Certain people are not cut out to be heterosexual and we don’t need to castigate them, we don’t need to punish them, to ostracize them”.

Current issues

Inspite of the decriminalization of homosexuality in India. We still have a long long way to go before the LGBTQ community can live a free life with dignity. India still lacks anti-discriminatory laws as a result of which many LGBTQ+ youth are harassed, bullied, discriminated against, threatened to be killed by their own family members, hence making them a vulnerable community. The suicide rate among the LGBTQ youth is the highest in India.

India also fails to recognise or legalize LGBTQ marriages, hence pushing the community and it’s identity under the carpet.