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Understanding biopsychosocial connections of gender and gender expression

Understanding the biopsychosocial connections of gender can help us differentiate between certain termonologies that sometimes can confuse stakeholders. Sexuality is a core human drive that resonates from feelings, thoughts, behaviors, and attitudes. Its characteristics constitute the origin of biological sex and the continuation of the human race.

Further, the biopsychosocial connections create the psychological and sociological representation of oneself and define parameters for attraction. The cortical structures of the brain and their neuronal activities may further connect behavior and gender.  Neurological activities associated with sex and our desire for it may explain the pleasure we receive from sex. Together, these topics evolve to determine factors concerning gender and gender expression.

It seems, at least at certain levels of educational instruction, that the overarching themes of sex are not well-defined in core curriculums. The biological factors that serve as the origin for debates concerning the definition of gender serve as the basis for many acronyms, definitions, stereotypes, and other non-inclusive or representative factors of a civilized society. Nevertheless, having a common thread to start conversations about these connections may serve educators well in establishing healthy, prosocial conversations.


Sex is defined as one’s method of biological reproduction. One’s sex includes the presence of sexual reproductive organs, ovaries in females, and testes in males. It’s relatively easy to define yet presents another topic of relevant discussion. In humans, more than 150 million people, or around two percent worldwide, intersex individuals are also found. Intersex can be easily defined as a condition where individuals have biological features that cannot be defined as uniquely male or female. Conditions such as Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome and Turner Syndrome constitute two circumstances where individuals have biological features that are not entirely consistent with either sex.


Gender is a two-prong component of understanding the psychological and sociological connections of the gender/sex spectrum. Gender identity, a component of gender, is the psychological arm. In contrast, one’s gender role constitutes features of individual difference that sociologically constitute one’s gender role and its corresponding connection to biological sex. Let’s discuss each briefly. Cisgender individuals’ gender identities correspond with their birth sexes, whereas transgender individuals’ gender identities do not correspond with their birth sexes. It seems in certain individuals, androgyny is a phenomenon where individuals can possess differing degrees of masculine and female characteristics.

Gender Identity

Gender identity can be best summarized as one’s chosen psychological expression of gender. This individual identity can differ from one’s sex. Interestingly, most humans’ gender identity aligns with sex, yet in some instances, it does not. This intersection serves as the basis for the source of fundamental, modernized gender discrimination. The intersection also serves as a gateway for educators to initiate discussions with students about the origins of sexual discrimination.

When one’s biological sex differs from one’s psychologically chosen gender, students can understand the concept easily from the standpoint of personal gender pronouns. One’s gender identity is the basis for pronouns as socially connected through media movements. The main pronouns include she and he, her and him, hers and his, and herself and himself. A comprehensive list of gender identities can be found here.

Sexual Orientation

While sex and gender should be predictors for one’s intrinsic, biological attraction to others, it doesn’t necessarily include all facets of attraction (Rule & Ambady, 2008). One’s sexual orientation refers simply to one’s attraction to others and their ability to attract others. Research contemplates pleasure as a higher drive factor than reproduction when considering the overarching theme of attraction (Geary, 1998). An interesting component of this debate is the reproductive drive for sex. Simply count the number of times you’ve had sex during your lifetime and balance that with the number of biological offspring produced from the encounters. It seems research may accurately represent that sex is more of a drive for pleasure rather than reproduction.

Sexual Fluidity

While some might think that the selection of attraction would remain as constant as one’s biological sex, it doesn’t necessarily always happen that way. Consider one’s affinity for coffee. The dark, hot beverage may be pleasing on a cold winter day but not on a 90-degree summer day. Perhaps we prefer an iced coffee to satisfy our desires on that day. In this basic illustration, a sexually fluid person is to coffee as males are to hot coffee and females to cold. The individual is still uniquely attracted to other humans; only when the conditions are correct does an individual exercise their options to pursue pleasure.

Wrapping it Up

This section highlights the multitude of educational opportunities to reduce discrimination within our society, enhance inclusion, and break down barriers. More than anything, this section hopes to inspire simplified learning about topics concerning gender. Through comprehensive understanding, education can empower inclusion and change normative views en masse.


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