Junior *Sydney Jones compares her struggle with her gender identification to the need for water. The goal, for He’s to be called She’s and Him to be called Her, to not think twice about these pronouns, just like people don’t think twice about drinking water.
Jones, born a male, never knew the possibility of being a different gender growing up. But after meeting openly transgender people freshman year, she realized she was supposed to be a girl.
Even though she had accepted herself, her parents hadn’t. At home, her parents enter her room happy, see something feminine, and grow angry, telling Jones she can’t be a girl.
“The first time [my parents] were exposed to it was when I had a friend who was trans and I had to make them call him a boy,” Jones said. ”They need some more time to get used to the idea, the way they grew up is going to make it difficult for them to understand.”
Because her parents prohibit an outwardly feminine appearance, Jones has had difficulty with people acknowledging her gender.
“I recognize that it’s harder for people to see me as a girl because I don’t dress like a girl,” Jones said. “I think it’s important to recognize gender still, because I know a lot of people that identify as a different gender from how they appear. I always see them as the gender they identify and it’s really important for people to try.”
While Jones is sure of her identity as a female, freshman *Maggie Turner, who was born a female, questions her gender and shows how this is okay. Not everyone is able to have a gut feeling, and it’s okay to take time to figure out what is right for you.
“Before, [gender] was commonly known as male, female, whatever genitals match,” Turner said. “But [now] it’s different for a lot of people, and when you pay attention to that, you may realize someone’s gender may be different from what you thought it was.”
While Turner is still figuring out her gender, Senior Erin Green* doesn’t identify as any gender, or is non-binary.
“It’s less of like a, ‘I don’t feel like I’m a girl’, and more like something else,” Green said. “I just don’t see the point of gender in the first place.”
While Green doesn’t see the point of gender, Jones who is transgender, is also pansexual which means her sexual attraction has nothing to do with gender. Her pansexuality attributes to her sexuality, not her gender, because gender and sexuality are two different things. She portrayed that not only do people have misconceptions about gender, they also get confused about sexuality.
Similar to Jones receiving misconceptions about her sexuality, sophomore Jill Mohler* has also had people be confused over her bisexuality. Mohler is religious and has had people tell her she can’t be religious and bisexual. She has also had boys in her biology class pull up the online Bible and show her quotes that say being gay is a sin. Mohler doesn’t understand how being LGBTQ+ could be a sin in Gods eyes, because she thinks religion is about love, not putting others down.
Another sexuality people get confused about is asexual, the opposite of pansxual, when there is no sexual attraction. Green, who’s gender is non binary, identifies her sexuality as asexual. She helped describe the four different types of attractions; sexual, romantic, sensual, aesthetic. Asexual only deals with not having a sexual attraction.
“Sexual is self explanatory. Romantic is wanting to date a person, and whatever your idea of dating is. Romantic may entail a lot of romantic coded things such as kissing, or however far you want to go,” Green said. “Sensual is wanting to cuddle with this person or feeling emotionally close to someone. Aesthetic is liking how a person looks.”
“You don’t really hear about asexuals, you hear lesbian, gay, bi but you don’t hear about pansexual, asexual, demi-sexual or polysexual,” Green said. “I told one person I didn’t feel like having sex and they went, ‘Oh my gosh are you like a robot?’”
One thing that really helped Green was finding other people at school who identified as asexual and seeing people come out in the media. Green said that knowing she was not alone helped, since she is surrounded by people who are straight and cisgender, which means identifying as the gender you were assigned at birth.
Even though there are misconceptions about gender and sexualities at East, Gay Straight Alliance president Chloe Neighbor, advises training yourself to use gender neutral pronouns if you are confused what to call someone, until you hear them refer to themselves as something else.
“If you do ask don’t single a single person out, because that can make someone really anxious,” Neighbor said. “Do it in the right environment. In GSA we always ask people’s pronouns when doing introductions. It makes it easier for everyone so they don’t have to mess anyone’s up.”
Neighbor introduces a non-confrontational way to confirm pronouns as, ‘hey I want to make sure I am using the right pronouns for you is that ok? The more people are informed about different sexualities and gender, and the more they work to be understanding, the stronger the East community will be.