What is gender identity?
As our society and technology have become more open and accessible, more people are asking about gender. What is it? Why does it matter?
Gender refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviors, expressions and identities of girls, women, boys, men, and gender diverse people. Gender influences how people see and understand themselves and each other, how they act and interact, and the distribution of power and resources in society.
Many people think about gender in a very narrow way, such as girl/woman and boy/man. Yet, there is considerable diversity in how individuals and groups understand, experience, and express gender.
Throughout history, among and between societies, norms, roles and relationships between and among men and women have been constructed and have evolved in an ongoing way.
Masculinity and femininity are defined, lived, and challenged daily as individuals consider, engage with, and even change the varying aspects of gender through
- the way they identify their bodies,
- their ideas of femininity and masculinity,
- who they find themselves attracted to, and
- how they want to live in the world.
Though gender roles are defined by society, individuals’ identities develop in line with, and sometimes in opposition to, social definitions.