Tue | Aug 14, 2018

Gender identity vs role behaviour

Published:Saturday | June 18, 2016 | 12:00 AM


Peter Espeut needs to better understand our human sexuality before making comments like those published in his column 'Sexual identity, gender identity' (Gleaner, June 17, 2016). What Peter is describing is gender-role behaviour. This is when a person is socialised into that gender. It is also one of Jamaica's major concerns in having created the gender-role behaviour of our boys and men.

I remind Mr Espeut of distinctions in our sexuality which must be recognised. Our sexuality is very complex and is everything about us as a male and female. Our biological sex is given at birth. We then discover, and NOT choose, our gender identity, which is the psychological sense of being male or female.

Society creates gender-role behaviour, which one decides in adhering, or not, to the cultural norms associated as feminine or masculine behaviour in that society. It is society and culture that indicate how a male and female should act according to their understanding.

Sexual orientation is an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, sexual, or affectional attraction to another person. Sexual orientation is NOT chosen. It is discovered. Sexual behaviour is how a person chooses to live out his or her sexuality. It is our sexual behaviour that is the moral issue that needs to be addressed, and critically, objectively evaluated. It is the sexual behaviour of all types of gender identity and orientation which are what we, as a society, must confront morally.

With this clarity, I continue to hope that we Jamaicans can become more open and critical in our attitudes and understanding of our complex sexuality and the behaviour we express.