Gender Identity vs Gender Role: Boy or girl? Blue or pink?

This is the way babies are often defined at birth.

But how we define ourselves may not be the same as how others define us.

Understanding the differences between gender identity and gender role can help you better understand yourself and others and improve your relationships with other people who may be different from you.

Gender Identity vs Gender Role: What is Gender Identity?

Gender identity is how you perceive yourself as male, female, both or neither.

  • It can be the same as or different from your biologically assigned sex.

  • Gender identity isn't the same as sexual orientation (who a person is sexually attracted to).

Person holding whiteboard with Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash

Gender identities can be binary or non-binary.

  • Binary: identifying as either male or female.

  • Non-binary: identifying as neither exclusively male nor female.

Male,, female and non-binary icon Examples of non-binary gender include:

  • Genderqueer: a person who identifies as both male and female and may have a fluid sense of gender identity.

  • Agender: a person who identifies as neither male nor female.

Multi-gender icon

Other terms to describe gender identity include:

  • Transgender:a person whose gender identity is different from their assigned sex. They may identify as binary or non-binary.

  • Cisgender: a person whose gender identity is the same as their assigned sex.

Gender Identity vs Gender Role: What is Gender Role?

Gender roles are society’s expectations of typical male or female behavior. They can vary by culture.

People of any gender identity may or may not conform to traditional gender roles.

gender identity vs gender role: Duck Dynasty man.

Examples of gender roles in Western culture:

Blue male icon

  • "Construction workers are men."

  • "Men should mow the lawn."

  • "Boys like to play with trucks."

Pink female icon

  • "Nurses are women."

  • "Women should cook dinner."

  • "Girls like to play with dolls."

Try it Out

gender identity vs gender role: Rainbow paper with they/them tiles Photo by Katie Rainbow 🏳️‍🌈 on Unsplash

Meet Jamie!

Flaticon Icon

Jamie considers themself to be gender-queer and uses the pronoun they/them.

Quiz

Memorize the difference: gender identity vs gender role. This is an example of Jamie's ______.

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Rainbow with words,

Check out more Bytes on this topic: Learn to use gender pronouns in 6 minutes

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This Byte has been authored by

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Anne Smith

Instructional Designer