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Each of us has a biological sex — whether we are female, male, or intersex. Our gender is our social and legal status as men or women. And sexual orientation is the term used to describe whether a person feels sexual desire for people of the other gender, same gender, or both genders.
Each of us has a gender and gender identity. Our gender identity is our deepest feelings about our gender. We express our gender identity in the way that we act masculine, feminine, neither, or both. Some of us are transgender — which means that our biological sex and our gender identity do not match up.
Each of us also has a sexual orientation. You may be bisexual, gay, lesbian or straight. Or you may be “questioning” — unsure about your sexual orientation.
The more you understand biological sex, gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation, the more you may understand yourself and how you relate to other people. Because sex and gender are so complex, you may have many questions. You may wonder about your own sexual orientation or gender identity, or you may wonder about someone you know. You may have questions about how society views sex and gender — including homophobia, sexism, and transphobia.
We hope these pages give you the facts and tools you need to better understand sexual orientation and gender. If you have more questions or concerns, we can help. Planned Parenthood provides high-quality, sensitive, and appropriate reproductive health, general health, and sexual health services to all of our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) patients. Staff at your local Planned Parenthood health center can talk with you and help you find the information, services, and resources that you need.