Gender vs. Sexuality
Gender and Sexual orientation, are two distinct, but related, aspects of self. Gender is personal (how we see ourselves), while sexual orientation is interpersonal (who we are physically, emotionally and/or romantically attracted to).
Why is it so critical to distinguish between these two concepts?
When we confuse gender with sexual orientation, we are likely to make assumptions about a young person that have nothing to do with who they are. For example, when someone’s gender expression is inconsistent with others’ expectations, assumptions are frequently made about that person’s sexual orientation.
The boy who loves to play princess is assumed to be gay, and the girl who buys clothes in the “boys’” section and favors a short haircut may be assumed to be a lesbian. These could be faulty conclusions. What someone wears and how they act is about gender expression. You cannot tell what a person’s sexual orientation is by what they wear (for that matter, you can’t know what their gender identity is either, unless they tell you).
Our society’s conflation of gender and sexual orientation can also interfere with a young person’s ability to understand and articulate aspects of their own gender. For example, it’s not uncommon for a transgender or non-binary youth to wonder if they are gay or lesbian (or any sexual orientation other than heterosexual) before coming to a fuller realization of their gender identity.
How we come to understand our gender and our sexual orientation – and the choices we make to disclose and express these parts of ourselves – are distinct paths. Thinking of these two aspects of self as interchangeable may, instead of helping us know ourselves and one another better, actually get in the way of understanding and communication. Source: GenderSpectrum