What happens when we give people permission to use spectrums to describe their gender, sex, and sexuality?
In order to address this giant gap, Drs. Jennifer Bryan and Chris Overtree of Team Finch Consultants decided to develop a study, in which participants answered questions about their gender, biological sex, and sexuality, first with checkboxes and then with spectrums. They approached me to help with data analysis and the results are thrilling!
The long and short of it is that when you let people use spectrums a surprisingly (yes - surprising even to me!) large proportion of them describe their gender identity, gender expression, and biological sex somewhere between the binary categories of "man" and "woman," "masculine" and "feminine," "male and female." And they report experiencing these aspects of themselves differently - that is, many don't view their biological sex as the same as their gender identity or gender expression, and they also view their gender identity and gender expression as different. These characteristics or identities aren't experienced as differently as they are for transgender people, for example, where someone's biological sex may be on the male end of the spectrum and their gender identity may be on the woman end of the spectrum. But the important piece is that they are still being experienced as different.
Additionally, when people were able to describe their levels of attraction and sexual behavior to and with various gender categories, far fewer people met the traditional definition of "straight" than population estimates would otherwise suggest.