GenderBread concepts 2

For many people, gender and sex can be very confusing. Then add in terms like gender expression and gender identity along with sexual orientation and attraction, it may take a while to fully grasp these concepts.

This article is for : those who are questionning aspects of themselves like their identity and sexual orientation; for parents and teachers who need some clarification because they know people who are questioning themselves in regards to these subjects or anyone who would like to know more information on these concepts.

It’s actually pretty simple! Here’s what created to illustrate these concepts : The GenderBread Person.

GOOD genderbread only

There are four main aspects that make up a person’s sexuality. They are the following : Identity, Sex, Attraction and Expression. The image shows where each of these aspects are located on a person’s body in order to clarify and simplify for those who don’t understand them very well. Taken from versions 2 and 3 of the GenderBread person, there are different diagrams for each concept that give more detail and illustrate the concepts examples.


Sex refers to your biological sex as shown in the picture. However, for those who are experiencing a disassociation between themselves and their sex, it’s best to not call it biological sex. In fact, saying biological sex infers that the sexual organ a person has will necessarily correspond with the gender of that sex. Example, if a person has a penis, they are a man and therefore, male. Also, a person with a vagina would mean that they are a woman and therefore, female. Hence, the preferred term is sex assigned at birth. That allows for gender and sex to be separate aspects of one’s self.

sex v3attraction v2


In the image above, the identity is shown as the brain. Gender identity is how you think about yourself. It is a mixture of the environment and what you are biologically composed of (ex. hormones). In most western societies, gender identity is binary, meaning that there are only two genders: man and woman. However, there are people who do not identify with a man or a woman. These people can either identify as genderqueer, agender third sex, and among others, Two-spirit.

gender identity v3 gender identity v2


Gender expression is shown as the complete exterior of a person. Meaning, whichever gender identity a person identifies with is shown through clothes, shoes and hairstyle. It’s also shown through the way they act, behave and how they interact with others. Others also perceive a person’s gender through their gender expression. This perception is largely based on traditional gender roles. Gender expression can also be binary, meaning that a majority of western societies relate femininity to women and masculinity to men. However, not everyone who identifies with one identity necessarily identifies with the gender expression that traditionally corresponds to it. For example, someone who identifies as a woman may not necessarily be feminine and express that gender identity through the clothes she may wear or in the way she may behave.

gender expression v3 gender expression v2


Attraction is shown on the image as the heart. Attraction can be identified using labels such as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, etc. Attraction can be split in two subcategories: sexual and romantic. For some people, sexual and romantic attraction can be two separate things. For others, it’s one and the same. For example, a man may be sexually and romantically attracted to only females. On the other hand, a woman may only be sexually attracted to women but may be romantically attracted to both men and women.

attraction sex v3 attraction love v3 sex v2


Now we see how these all relate to each other. The truth is, they don’t. Sex, identity, expression and attraction are all independent of each other. Someone who was born with a vagina may not necessarily identify as female and may not necessarily express that gender. However, it’s possible that each of these aspects can all coincide with each other. For example, a person who is born with a penis will be identified as male, will express that gender by wearing male clothes and express male behaviour. This is called cisgender. It’s a person whose expression and gender identity are consistent with the sex assigned at birth.

The most important thing to remember is that they are all independent from each other.

If you have any questions regarding this subject, I invite you to go look at I also invite you to use our “Tell the experts” service.

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