& Gender

Nearly 1 million (12%) of Millennials identify as transgender or gender nonconforming.

Sexuality and gender are a lot to figure out, and we want to help. You deserve to feel heard and be a part of the sexuality conversation, regardless of your identity.

Nearly 1 million (12%) of Millennials identify as transgender or gender nonconforming.

4.5% of American adults identify as LGBTQ+. That’s over 14 million people!

Things to consider
about sexuality & gender

Sexuality means many different things to a lot of different people. It’s an umbrella term that refers to sexual orientation, sexual preferences, and all that comes with having sex. Sexuality is a major part of how we understand the world around us, express our emotions as human beings, and relate to others.

Sexual orientation refers to whether a person is attracted to the same sex (gay or lesbian), the opposite sex (heterosexual), both sexes (bisexual) or neither sex (asexual).

Many researchers support that people are born into sexual orientation and that it is not a choice. It is also commonly accepted that sexual orientation occurs along a continuum and that not all people fit into just one category.

Queer is a term that describes the spectrum of sexuality and gender, especially in those who do not have cisgender or heterosexual identities. The term comes with a complicated history of being a reclaimed slur. Queer people exist in different spaces, and fight to be understood every day.

Absolutely. Many STIs - namely Human papilloma virus (HPV) - and other vaginal infections can be spread during woman - to - woman sexual contact. Using dental dams, condoms (even with toys) or gloves and making sure your hands and toys are clean can help prevent transmission.

While STIs can affect anyone who is sexually active, STI rates for gay and bisexual men are very high due to rates of unprotected, receptive anal sex. The tissues in the anus are very sensitive and are more likely to become infected with some STIs that are treatable and curable (syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, pubic lice, etc.), and others that are treatable but not curable (HIV, hepatitis, human papilloma virus (HPV) and herpes).

It is important to use protection and contact your doctor immediately about PrEP (pre- exposure prophylaxis) if you are at risk of HIV. In the event that you are exposed to HIV, contact your provider immediately to discuss your options, including post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).

Bisexuals are similarly impacted by STIs as gay men and women are, with bisexual men being more likely to contract an STI than a bisexual woman. The more partners you have in a year, the more often you should get tested. Remember that it’s always best to protect yourself when having sex.

STIs can affect anyone who is sexually active. Some can be cured (i.e. chlamydia, gonorrhea), but some cannot (HIV, human papilloma virus (HPV), and Herpes). They are not exclusive to a group of people, and it can happen anytime, anywhere. It’s possible to have an STI without symptoms, so it’s best to communicate with any sexual partners about their sexual history before having sex. Visit our STI Tool to learn about the different STIs to protect yourself from and visit our Birth Control Tool for ways to protect yourself.

Here is a list of LGBTQ-friendly specialists. It’s important that you be open with your health care provider about your sexuality and sexual behaviors. This is the only way to ensure you get the best and most relevant care. If you feel that your provider is being discriminatory due to your sexual orientation or activities, there’s no shame in making a switch to someone you can trust and better connect with.

Agender is an umbrella term describing many different people who commonly don’t identify with a certain gender and/or have a gender that they describe as neutral. For a term as new as agender, it’s best if you ask how someone defines it for themselves.

Cisgender (Cis), is used to describe a person whose gender identity aligns with their assigned sex at birth (i.e. someone born with female genitals identifying as a woman).

Assigned sex refers to the doctor typically identifying you as a male or female at birth based on the appearance of your genitals and sexual organs. Biological sex isn’t just male or female; people can be born with different chromosomes or hormones and may be identified differently.

People are born with both male and female sex organs, genitalia that is difficult to identify or chromosomes that do not seem to match their physical appearance. These, along with other presentations, are known as intersex.

Gender identity is how you identify yourself in terms of being a man, woman, somewhere in between, both, or none at all. Gender identity comes from how you feel you see and fit into societal gender roles.

Sexual orientation refers to a person’s sexual identity (i.e. whether they’re gay, bi, trans, queer, etc.), whereas gender identity refers to how someone perceives themselves in relation to their assigned sex at birth (i.e. cisgender, transgender, agender).

Gender stereotypes are assumptions about how members of a certain gender or sex should feel or behave. Gender stereotypes lead to many false assumptions about how someone is supposed to look and act, and can be extremely harmful to relationships, peoples’ self-image, and perceptions of the world around them.

To avoid stereotyping in a relationship, consider the following (part of question above):

  • Expressing yourself is a skill that can be learned by anyone.

  • Everyone in a relationship should be able to openly communicate their wants and needs. Emotions and boundaries need to be respected at all times.

  • Violence is not an appropriate way to express yourself.

  • Sex is not the most important part of a relationship. There are lots of other ways to be physically and emotionally intimate.

  • A healthy relationship is based in equality and respect, not power and control. If you’re in an abusive or coercive relationship, it is your right to get out of it.