Gender

Trans person? Non-binary? Gender fluid? Cis-what?! Society has currently acknowledged more than 50 different gender labels. And those might be confusing when you’re less familiar with the topic. Do we really need so many? Isn’t your gender just biological? Well… not exactly. We’ll share some of the basics, so you – and as many others as possible – can truly hear the stories of our models.

Note: neither Sevilay Maria nor any member of her team is, or claims to be, a gender expert. What we’ve learned, we’ve learned along the way. From research, from our natural sense of curiosity, and most of all, from the models who’ve educated us throughout the process. The following text provides context for #MYOWNGENDER from that point of view. For a professional or broader take on gender, we refer to the list at the bottom of this page.

Gender

Gender means something different to everyone. Really. At this point, we’ve lost track of how many times we’ve asked someone to share their view on gender, but none of the answers has been the same. Ever. In general, your gender is considered to consists of three parts: sex, gender identity and gender expression.

Sex / The physical & biological characteristic
Stating it bluntly: sex is what’s in between your legs. As it focusses on the physical aspect of gender, sex is often perceived as an ‘either a or b’ case. Male or female. But even within sex there’s a full spectrum, as 1 out of 3000 children is born with an intersex condition, meaning that a child can’t be clearly defined as either a boy or a girl at birth.

Gender identity / How you identify
Woman, man, all the above or none at all? All are an option when talking gender identity, as it’s all about how you perceive your gender. When your gender identity matches your sex, you’re considered cisgender. You’re a woman, and you identify as a woman. When your sex and gender identity don’t match, the terminology is moving towards the transgender side of the spectrum. Those who find themselves somewhere in the middle, or not on the spectrum at all, often refer to themselves as non-binary. And there are many other labels. But labels come with limits. Limits that might not do justice to all the subtle nuances of your gender. Want to know more about all the different gender terms, this list will help you out.

Gender expression / What you put out into the world
Gender norms have defined almost everything in life as either feminine or masculine. The clothes we wear, the drink we order at a bar, how we work out, the jobs we pursue, how we style our hair, our manner of speaking. Everything. You can argue if these things should be connected to gender in the first place, but your gender expression is the gender you represent to the world with choices like these.

While this definition is accepted and used generally, many people are starting to think of gender as a construct of society. A set of rules and expectations created by us humans to understand each other and the world around us. A construct we’ve made – and therefore a construct we can redefine. Either way, gender is one of the most personal things in life. And whatever the case may be, you belong. When you’re adapting to your new label, when your gender comes in every shade on the spectrum and when you’re cisgender.

Pronouns

Besides he and she, the gender-neutral ‘they’ has become an accepted singular pronoun often used by people who identify as non-binary. The Dutch equivalent is ‘hen/hun’ or ‘die/diens’. When you aren’t sure how to address someone, it’s perfectly fine to ask them what pronouns they prefer. When you get confused, just thank them when you get corrected and keep on trying. Using someone’s name instead of a pronoun can help you out.

Sexuality

Do you find yourself grasping for terms like ‘gay, lesbian or pansexual’ when talking about gender? You’re not the only one. People often confuse sexual preference with gender. But the difference is rather simple: while your sexual preference is all about what we look for in others, gender can only be found within yourself.

Want to know more?

During the creation of this project, we’ve stumbled upon a great source of information. Click, listen, watch and read up.