Trans person? Non-binary? Cis-what? As society has currently acknowledged more than 50 different gender labels, gender and its terminology can be confusing when you’re unfamiliar with the topic. For as many people as possible to get the full story of #MYOWNGENDER, we explain some of the basics in the text below.

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

What is gender?

Gender means something different to everyone. Really. We’ve lost track of the times we’ve asked this question, but none of the answers has been the same. Ever. Technically speaking, your gender is considered to consists of three parts: sex, gender identity and gender expression.

Sex / The physical & biological characteristic
Focusing on the physical aspect of gender, your 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, male, all the above or none at all? All are an option when talking gender identity, as it’s about how one perceives their gender. When your gender identity matches your sex, you’re considered cisgender. When it doesn’t, the terminology is moving towards the transgender side of the spectrum. And those who find themselves somewhere in the middle or not on the spectrum at all often refer to themselves as non-binary. And there’re 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 male or female. The clothes we wear, what we order at a bar, how we work out, the jobs we pursue, how we style our hair, the way we speak. Everything. And even though you can argue if these things should be connected to gender in the first place, your gender expression is the gender you represent to the world with choices like these.

Don’t feel like the above fits your situation? Or can’t find a label that suits you? No worries. Gender is one of the most personal things in life. And whatever your case may be, you belong. ‘Cause after 3 years of research, we can’t help but see gender as a construct of society. A set of rules and expectation created by humans to understand each other and the world around us. As we’ve made this construct – these rules, these expectations – we’re the only ones that can redefine it. The ones who can tear it all down and build it back up to be more inclusive. Without labels. Old and new. For everyone to just be whom they want to be.


Besides he and she, the gender-neutral ‘they’ has become an accepted singular pronoun regularly used by people who identify as non-binary. When you aren’t sure how to address someone, it’s perfectly fine to ask upon meeting them what pronouns they prefer. When you get confused, just use someone’s name a lot.


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 sexuality with gender. But the difference is rather simple: while sexuality 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. Listen, watch and read up.