Young People, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
We cannot deny the fact that as humans, we are all sexual beings. As sexual beings, young people should have access to a comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) which provides them with the knowledge, skills and efficacy to make informed choices about their sexuality and lifestyle. Unfortunately, young people receive a range of conflicting and confusing messages about sexuality and gender on a daily basis either from the media, society in general or at home.
Have you ever heard of Gender Diversity (GD)? There’s plenty of gender diversity in our world. It encompasses anyone who identifies as a transgender, non-binary, genderqueer, gender fluid, agender or gender non-conforming. GD increases the awareness and understanding of the wide range of diversity in children, adolescents and adults by improving the well-being for people of all gender identities and expressions. GSD or Gender and sexuality diversity refers to all variations of sexual characteristics, sexual orientation, and gender identities without feeling the need to specify each of the identities, characteristics, and behaviours. GSD is a more commonly talked about topic in the western world in the recent years and is slowly making its introduction to Malaysia; where even the topic of sex is still very much a taboo. At FReHA, we try to encourage pockets of community to surpass these taboos, embrace diversity and celebrate people as who they are.
What is human sexuality? It is the way people experience and express themselves sexually. It is about your sexual feelings, thoughts, attractions and behaviours towards other people. Sexuality covers a broad spectrum and is much very much personal to each individual. It’s about understanding the sexual feelings and attractions we feel towards others and the habits and preferences in terms of sexual behaviour. Many a times, people feel confused or distressed about their sexuality and sexual identity. The below is the Kinsey Scale of Sexual Orientation which indicates the fluidity of sexual orientation
Above shows the “Kinsey Scale”. The scale was founded by Alfred Kinsey in 1948 and he believed that sexuality is fluid. The scale is described as scale 0 – 6, where 0 is completely heterosexual while 6 is completely homosexual and 1-5 varies in bisexual responses. Below the list of the meanings of the scale numbers of the Kinsey Scale.
Nowadays, the “X” on the Kinsey Scale is used to describe asexual people. People rarely talk about asexuality. Asexual is defined as a person who is not physically and/or emotionally attracted to anyone. However, people who are asexual do still have occasional sex. Although they are a part of a sexual orientation minority, there are cases of discrimination not only from the straight community but also the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community.
Other terms commonly used are cisgender, non-binary, transgender and intersex. Cisgender refers to a person whose gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth. Non-binary is a term used to identify a person who does not identify within the gender binary (male or female). Non-binary individuals may identify as genderfluid, agender (without gender), genderqueer or something else entirely. Transgender, on the other hand, is a term that includes the many ways that people’s gender identities can be different from the sex they were assigned at birth. Intersex is used to describe variety of conditions in which a person who is born with reproductive or sexual anatomy that does not fit the typical definition of male or female.
What are gender pronouns? Gender pronouns are gender identifiers for the third-person singular. While some personal pronouns are gender specific i.e. “he” and “she”, individuals who are transgender or gender nonconforming may choose other personal pronouns, such as “they” and “ze”.
Realising one’s sexual orientation and gender identify often leads to building-up the courage to “come out”. “Coming out” is defined by opening up about one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity publicly or privately. “Coming out” exposes a person to all sorts of stigmatization and discrimination and is therefore carefully done after much contemplation by the individual. It is challenging to “come out” as it may be done multiple times to different people at various occasions. Taiwan is the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage. Malaysia, however, has not legalized the same. Although we do not have any law criminalising homosexuality per se, Section 377 of the Penal Code criminalises the act of sodomy; which is considered by the law, as a sexual act “against the order of nature”.
The above image is self-explanatory and describes gender identity, gender expressions, biological sex and sexual orientation through “The Genderbread Person”.
The Selangor and WP Family Reproductive Health Association (FReHA) carries out Comprehensive Sexuality Education in the form of workshops and talks to various groups in the community; regardless of their race, religion, status. sexual orientation or gender identity. FReHA also offers private and confidential sexual and reproductive health services to all pockets of community without stigma or discrimination. Contact us for further details.
- https://services.unimelb.edu.au/counsel/resources/relationships/diverse-sexuality-sex-and gender-lgbtiqa
- https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2018/09/04/the-reality-of-malaysia-laws-on homosexuality-rage/
- https://www.itspronouncedmetrosexual.com/2011/11/breaking-through-the-binary gender-explained-using-continuums/
- https://www.newsbreak.com/news/2120674744998/the-importance-of-gender-diversity –