Difference between Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

sexual orientation

Over the years, there has always been a misconception that gender identity and sexual orientation are interconnected. The universal declaration of human Rights says, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and right.” Therefore lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer should enjoy equal human rights. On the contrary, most people automatically think that if someone is a transgender person, they must be gay. However, it is not exactly like that. There is no definite sexual orientation for specific gender identity, which shows both aren’t connected. There are differences between gender identity and sexual orientation. 

Defining sexual orientation and gender identity

Every individual has a sexual orientation and gender identity.

A person’s sexual orientation explains the emotional, affection, and sexual attraction to other individuals of either the same or different gender. This means who a person is interested in dating or being intimate with. Sexual orientations include heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality, while lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer specifically refers to an individual’s sexual orientation.

Sexual identity is a person’s innermost perception and individual experience of gender. It is simply how individuals see themselves or what they call themselves, which may be similar or different from the sex assigned at birth. Although many people often identify as male or female, some individuals identify as a blend between both genders or with no gender at all. Possibly, an individual’s gender identity can be quite different from the gender that society perceives the person to be based on external appearance and behavior.

When an individual identifies with a gender that is different from the one assigned at birth, the person is called transgender. However, cisgender is the general name given to individuals whose gender identity corresponds to the gender assigned at birth.

What is the exact difference?

With the above explanation of what gender identity and sexual orientation mean, certain differences can be sensed. A YouTuber, Brendan Jordan, who identifies as gender fluid, gave a simple description of the difference between both terms. He said, “sexual orientation is who you go to bed with, while gender identity is who you are in bed.” This simple explanation is an answer to a frequently asked question; if a person doesn’t identify as a female, does that mean the person is gay? The fact that someone identifies with a non-binary gender doesn’t define such an individual’s sexual orientation—who the person wants to date or go to bed with.

In many places, people who belong to this category are perceived to be members of sexual minority groups, represented by the acronym “LGBTQ,” which means lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer. 

Ultimately, everyone is born with the same right, whether one identifies as binary or non-binary gender. Gender and sexuality or sexual orientation are crucial components of every individual but are quite different and shouldn’t be seen as dependent. Every individual should be free to make sexual preferences no matter the gender identity.