G-Book Glossary

(Biological) sex

It refers to the objectively verifiable organs, chromosomes, and hormones a person has. A female biological sex implies having a vagina, ovaries, XX chromosome configuration, and predominant estrogen. A male biological sex implies having testes, a penis, XY chromosomes, and predominant testosterone. However, biological sex cannot always be interpreted in binary terms. In fact, up to 1.7% people of the global population are intersex, which means they were born with physical sex characteristics that mix those traditionally female and male. For example, a person can have male sex organs and also a functional female reproductive system.

 

Cisgender

A person whose physical characteristics meet stereotypical social expectations. For example, a cisgender man is a biological man who thinks and feels he belongs to the male gender, and a cisgender woman is a biological woman who thinks and feels she belongs to the female gender. People who feel different from their biological sex identify themselves as transgender.

 

Diversity

Diversity in general refers to the situation and the characteristics of an individual conditioned by the social groups in which he or she is inserted. People can be differentiated by sex, gender, races, nations, cultures, and religions. Sexual orientations and gender identities of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people have been for a long time a reason for punishment and social exclusion. In 1990, the World Health Organization (WHO) removed homosexuality from the international classification of diseases and health-related problems. In many countries, homosexual people have achieved the same rights as those in heterosexual relationships, that is two men or two women can get married and create a family. Nevertheless, there are still many countries that continue to punish homosexuality. Even when a country recognises rights to LGBTQ+ people, society as a whole is not always ready to recognise these rights, and homophobia remains a reality. The legal and cultural recognition of transgender identities is even more difficult in most countries of both Western and Eastern societies, and as a result transphobia is still rampant.

 

Feminism(s)

Group of movements whose common goal is to achieve political, social, economic, cultural, and legal equality between women and men, to abolish inequalities and to promote women’s rights. Today, it comes in a wide variety of approaches, analyses, forms of action, and practices (for this reason sometimes the plural term feminisms is preferred). In its different forms, feminism consists in an ongoing struggle to build a society where cisgender and transgender women and men can develop their qualities and their skills equally, regardless of their age, sexual orientations, origin, cultural and social background.

 

Gender bending

The act of blurring gender expectations and defying stereotypes.

 

Gender equality

The expression gender equality is based on the principle of non-discrimination on the grounds of sex and gender. It refers to the social condition in which men and women are guaranteed the same opportunities, rights, and respect. According to this principle, women’s rights must be recognised in all areas, such as political rights, employment, education, health, and the economy. Discrimination against women is still present in our societies, although at various levels and in more or less blatant forms. Examples of such discrimination are inequalities in access to basic or higher education, professional opportunities or the actual possibility of holding public office. These inequalities increase the economic gap between men and women. Gender inequality is also present in the household: in order to tackle it, new generations must receive an education inspired by the principle of gender equality, so that men and women share the same responsibilities in the distribution of domestic chores.

 

Gender identity

Gender identity refers to the gender a person identifies with. It refers to the sense of belonging to a gender and is formed during the development of an individual. While sex is based on biological characteristics, gender refers to a social construct. According to their gender identities, people can be defined as cisgender or transgender. Gender identity does not derive from biological sex and is not necessarily linked to sexual orientations. Gender identity, gender role (how a person is perceived by others), and biological sex influence how people perceive themselves in society.

 

Gender

It is a concept that refers to the historical and social construction of men and women, their roles and relations in society. It is assimilated in a socializing process, and it refers to cultural attitudes that shape products, technologies, and behaviour as “masculine” or “feminine.” The term gender is not a feminist invention. In fact, it was first used in 1968 by the American psychoanalyst Robert J. Stoller, who in his book Sex and Gender: On the Development of Masculinity and Femininity, defined gender as the complex set of “behaviour, feelings, thoughts, and fantasies that are related to the sexes and yet do not have primarily biological connotations.” This introduced a distinction between biology (or sex) and culture (or gender). This idea was then adopted and adapted since the late sixties by several feminist theorists as the basis for women’s studies, through which they aimed to free women from a condition of inferiority, demonstrating that this position was not natural, but the product of centuries of patriarchal culture.

 

Gender relations

Relations between individuals of different gender identities. Societies tend to see genders in a hierarchical relation: in fact, men are in a more powerful – thus hegemonic – position over women, who are in a subordinated, discriminated, and less powerful position.

 

Gender roles

Tasks and functions associated to women and men. They are determined by the cultural norms that prevail in a given social context. Gender roles influence how a person is perceived by others in society.

 

Gender rules

Social rules establishing which behaviours, jobs, etc. are supposed to be adequate for men and for women.

 

Gender stereotypes

Simplistic ideas that are deeply rooted in our collective conscience and that cannot be explained by logical thought. Stereotypes unconsciously predetermine our behaviour, attitudes, etc., and are transmitted by different forms of mass media, like advertising, TV, and social media. For example, gender stereotypes assign family care to women and family sustenance to men. If a person breaks these roles, he or she can be discriminated by society. Gender stereotypes create feminine and masculine identities in a hierarchical and opposite relation: for example, women are thought to encounter difficulties in exerting power, thus lacking in self-confidence, whereas men are supposed not to display affection, and to be more assertive.

 

Homophobia

It is the fear, hatred, and discrimination of homosexual people.

 

Inclusion

Inclusion is a process of allowing everyone to participate fully in society, regardless of their origin, sexual identity, or ability (in the case of people with disabilities). It concerns the economic, educational, cultural or political sectors of the society. Unlike exclusion and discrimination, inclusion is about valuing each person and giving each person a place in society, regardless of any kind of difference. It guarantees respect for the identity and diversity of a person or a social group.

 

LGBTQ+

Acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer people, and other non-binary sexual orientations and gender identities.

 

Sexism

Prejudice or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex.

 

Sexual orientation

It defines the sex a person is attracted to. Heterosexual people are attracted to people of the opposite sex. Homosexual people are attracted to people of their same sex. Bisexual people are attracted to people of both sexes.

 

Transgender

A person who thinks and feels he/she belongs to a gender which is different from the sex assigned at birth, and therefore does not meet stereotypical social expectations. For example, a transgender woman is a woman who was assigned male at birth. Usually transgender women use the term MtF, acronym for Male to Female, which means they have transitioned from a male to a female identity. Transgender men use the term FtM, acronym for Female to Male, which means they have transitioned from a female to a male identity. Some transgender people decide to undergo a medical transition with the help of medical specialists who can prescribe hormone therapy and/or surgery, to align their body with the gender they feel they belong to.

 

Transphobia

It is the fear, hatred, and discrimination of transgender and gender non-conforming people.