Social Justice Advocates Handbook: A Guide to Gender Understanding

Improving the Genderbread Person: I need YOUR help

by Sam Killermann · 99 comments

in Call to Action

Hey friends, here’s the thing:

I made this graphic about a month ago, made a printer-friendly version about a week ago, and sometime in the last five days it erupted (a “ton of views and traffic” eruption, not a “lava and ash and destruction” eruption).  It’s been viewed close to 500,000 times (that’s half a million) that I can account for.  But there’s a problem.

The Genderbread Person I created is far from perfect.

Get my book!
I sought to improve upon previous versions, and though I did so, there’s still a lot of room for improvement, particularly in the area of sexual orientation.  I’ve received hundreds of comments, emails, and DMs to the effect of “it’s great, other than the sexual orientation part”, but not too many provide a working solution.

Help me solve this dilemma and get a better Genderbread Person up for the next half million views.

Below is the best revision I have so far, so perhaps we can start there.  Leave your constructive criticisms and suggestions in the comments below.  If the suggestion already exists, vote that suggestion up, don’t leave a duplicate.

What do you think?  Can we equality and progress be crowd-sourced?  I think so.  Let’s find out.

UPDATE #1

Please keep in mind that this graphic should be simple and easily understood.  It’s mean to be printed and stand alone as an educational piece, not needing further explanation.  Great suggestions so far, folks.  Keep it up!

Written by Sam Killermann

Sam is a writer and performer who uses those skills as an ally to advance progress in the realms of LGBT equality and social justice. He tours the country speaking to college students about stereotypes, prejudice, and oppression, and writes for this site when he's at home in Austin, TX.

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  • materialdesigner

    Why not have sexual orientation be a 2-d plot? One axis is “Attraction to men”, and goes from e.g. 0% to 100%, and the other axis is “Attraction to women”, and goes from 0% to 100%.

    Pure homosexuality or heterosexuality exists on one of those axes, bisexuality exists somewhere in between, and asexuality exists in the region near the origin (0%, 0%)?

    • Eva K

       I was thinking that a 2D plot would be good, but if the axes were gender identity on the X axis and level of attraction on the Y axis, more flexibility would be available. (Pansexual/bisexual dichotomy could be visualized and asexuality could be represented.

      • guest22

        If you want to bring Asexuality to the picnic, you also have to make some kind of acknowledgement that romantic attraction is also a thing that is separate from sexual attraction, and have another set of scales for homo/hetero/a-romantic?

        • magnuscoatl

          Yeah; I would say if you really want attraction in there (and I don’t see necessarily that it *should* be there, as this is otherwise about gender identity with sexuality tagged on) it should at least have something like your updated graphic with two scales for sexual vs. romantic and *not* use hetero/homo (as a genderfluid person attracted to men, am I heterosexual, homosexual?)

          Suggest androphile, gynophile, andromantic, gynoromantic

          • Bradders

            How about a venn diagram to show the cross over areas?

    • http://twitter.com/the_leaky_pen Puck Malamud

      I like this, but then people like me (who aren’t men or women) are not included. In which case I like that you can have “homosexual”, “heterosexual”, “pansexual”, or “bisexual”. Cause then you’re saying you’re interested in people with the same Gender Identity as you or different Gender ID from you, or whatever. So if I said I was homosexual, that would mean I’m only interested in other people who are genderqueer, for example.

  • http://twitter.com/emiliawrites Emily Manuel

    I guess my question would be why is biological sex in the genitals?  What about breasts?  Fat distribution/body shape?  There’s a million things that come together to determine sex, it really is a whole body thing.

    • Eva K

       Similarly, as a trans girl, my ‘biological sex’ isn’t *just* male or female – there are both male parts and female parts (but no intersex parts).

      • http://samuelkillermann.com/ Samuel Killermann

        That’s why there’s a spectrum, with a lot more grey than there is black and white.  The parts aren’t what’re being described here, but the person.  The goal is to help educate people that individuals can be intersex, and that intersex can be any one of a thousand combinations between male and female.

    • http://samuelkillermann.com/ Samuel Killermann

      Put yourself in the shoes of someone first approaching this concept, someone has always been told that boy and girl are the only options.  The goal of this graphic is to help people separate these concepts, not to blur them together.  Genitals are an accessible (for lay persons) entry point to understanding sex.

  • materialdesigner

    Gender identity should be the same as sex (not separated), called simply “Gender”, and it should also be a 2-d plot. One axis is “Man” and the other axis is “Woman”, going from 0% to 100%, each.

    Binary identified folks would fall on one of the axes, either Man or Woman. Bigender, androgyne, or other mixed-gender folks would fall somewhere in between, and agender folks would fall near (0%, 0%).

    If you want to be able to differentiate trans people, you can also make a separate 2-d plot exactly like above except “Socialized Gender” or “Gender (Coercively) Assigned At Birth”. Trans people would fall on the opposite axis for what they were socialized as, and cis people would fall on the same axis. So a cis man would be 100% man, 0% woman Gender, and 100% man, 0% woman Socialized Gender

  • amyfink

    It will be the next discussion topic at all the groups on BGSU’s campus!

    • http://samuelkillermann.com/ Samuel Killermann

      I’m happy to hear that, Amy!  Report back and let me know what you’ve got :)  Email works, too.

      • Caspar

         wow, I’m so glad that someone is seriously considering making a model that includes all those complex varieties relating to gender that there inevitably are in this day and age. But I also wonder whether all these different elements (a) can be included and (b) will be understood. Feelings of gender identity cannot be easily expressed and there is limited access to language that adequately reflects what one feels or thinks about oneself (at a given date and time, that is). I agree with anon, that by other standards, we are all, to some extent, gender-queer…                                                                                                                                                                                                                I would also like to add, if I may, that a line might be more logical in representing gender, sexuality or what have you, a sphere would be more complex and include different varieties of thinking about a (mental) structure, but it is still limited, because it has a physical shapr and form. i would even argue, that some type of people lie outside the line, and even outside the sphere, and they should be represented as being not of this gender defining world. They see themselves as non-gendered, and some see themselves as non-sexual. I, personally, would like to have my own little niche, that is situated far away from the other orientations, or, at least, in a group related only to orientations of the same kind: anti-orientations, or non-orientations. Thanks for letting us all have our say, I really appreciate that :)

  • anon

    I think no matter how you demonstrate your gender – should fall into the same category as  the gender you think you are. We need to accept that “feminine” CAN mean anything and so can “masculine”, if you identify as male or female. (Unless you want to put “currently thought of as feminine/masculine” characteristics). I mean, these days we are all gender queer by the standards of another time/culture/place. Not too long ago men in the UK wore heels to show off their calves and lace and make up and flowers… 

  • Guest 007

    I think it’s fine the way it was, I have a freind who was born female but identifies as male and hopes to have surgery one day, he is atracted to men, so while he still has boobs and a vagina he considers himself a gay male. the only people that really can’t use the “chart”are “gender queer” and people that “don’t like lables” and so they will never be able or willing to nail down what they want or what they like.

  • guest

    I like the 2D plot!   You could have the X axis as “attracted to Women” on the left and “attracted to men” on the right.  The Y axis then could be from platonic/asexual attraction to just physical attraction, to account for asexual attraction that isn’t sexual, but still a valid form of attraction. 

    • Magnuscoatl

      The big problem I have with a 2d plot is *size*.

  • Lisa

    You should also mention analytical thinking and intuition. Those are commonly seen as “more of a guy thing” and “more of a girl thing”, even though it’s just training. It definetly is not only sex, or gender expression.
     

  • rissie

    There should be the inclusion of romantic feelings that vary from your sexual desires. I, for instances, am bi-sexual but homo-romantic. Some people are homosexual but homo-romantic or asexual but hetero-romantic. Who you love isn’t always the same as who you want to have sex with. 

    • http://profiles.google.com/helenr.acosta Helen Acosta

      and then there are levels of desire. Some folks, like me have romantic attraction for people, regardless of gender, etc… but have low levels of arousal/desire.

    • noct Scottish

       Agree and that allows for lust leaving a dot not on sexual attraction for asexuals. Granted as an educational tool it would lack and on the one i made putting drive(as a category) feels like a bad idea. When i did it though i was met with a lot of success.

  • Lionel Deimel

    My biggest concern is graphic. The explanation of your various scales is hard to read, particularly as the size of the graphic is reduced. Consider a non-white background and text that is easily readable on whatever color your choose.

    There’s a danger in over thinking this graphic. You are not creating a definitive scientific classification here; you are trying to get people to think outside the box. Your Attracted To scale is too unlike the other scales and destroys the beauty of your classification.

    I’m thinking of using your graphic on my own Web site.

    • http://samuelkillermann.com/ Samuel Killermann

      Lionel, your point is a fear that resulted in the graphic above.  The more you add to this, the less effective it becomes.  And this particular version of the graphic (the horizontal) was designed to be printed and displayed at hi-res.  If you just include a “click through for larger” link, and link to the 1600px image, you shouldn’t have troubles there.  

      I’m voting for elegant solutions, and hoping some are presented.

      • Lionel Deimel

        I did as you recommended.

  • Lydia Luk

    here’s my suggestion for the sexual orientation (i wouldn’t go with the gendered attraction but perhaps a constant continuum or sexual orientation)
    <—-heterosexual——–bisexual—-pansexual——–homosexual—->
    *note: asexuality has a spretrum as well

    my suggestions is to change “Biological Sex” to “Sex”  (also going with continuum)

    *note: words are to be equally spaced

    “Gender Identity” (it may be problematic/confusing to suggest that it is a chemical composition to do with hormones when it is suggested it in “biological sex”, therefore I suggest to take that part out)

    “Gender Expression” (to go on with the theme of keeping of contiuum and inclusivity and acknowledging many genders)

    I would like to stress the need to add a blurb about how this poster isn’t perfect and trying to conceptualize something that is not linear and personal everchanging, this poster is beginning step.

    These are just my suggestions and up for changes. I enjoyed the poster very much at your attempts to make things a little more visually easier to understand, not only that you’ve made it free and accessible. I’ve been doing anti-O (focus on sexuality, gender, and sex, homophobia, transpohobia) for over the past 8 years and believe that we all should try and make these discussions available.

    Cheers!

    Lydia Luk

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/WVLKOTBUA3522V4P4J4PM2OGWI CENOVIS

      This one makes the most sense to me so far!

    • http://samuelkillermann.com/ Samuel Killermann

      Thanks for the suggestions, Lydia!  Being the most popular so far, let me provide a few challenging questions.

      Orientation: do you mean that asexual would be on the same spectrum as the others, or a separate one beside it?  And if it’s on a continuum, how would you suggest it labeled?

      Sex: including transexual is a great idea, but what you have implies that trans is “more female” and inter is “more male”, which we both know isn’t the case.  Would a trans-/intersex label be more clear?  Would another option be better altogether?

      ID: adding “cis-” labels to gender identity implies that if people identify as woman or man, they are inevitably cisgender, which isn’t the case at all.  But I see what you’re getting at, I think (the idea of implying ABSOLUTE man/woman), so maybe there’s another way to accomplish that?

      Expression: pandrogyny is an unclear term to me.  Is it like pansexual?  Does it mean expressing all genders?  Or is it more third-gender?  In any case, I would be concerned with the four-point continuum for the same reasons as with my concerns with sex.  Thoughts on how to mitigate that?

      I love the idea of stressing that the poster is imperfect (it’s always the obvious things I overlook).  That is a MUST.

      These questions aren’t just for you, but for anyone reading.  Thoughts?

      (thanks again for your thoughtful comment, Lydia!)

      • http://twitter.com/the_leaky_pen Puck Malamud

        No, no no no no no. Do *not* include transsexual in the bit about sex or cis in the bit about gender! Trans and cis are just descriptors of someone’s personal history: whether their assigned at birth sex matches their real gender identity or not. I actually just really don’t like including male and female or man and woman on opposite sides of the spectrum at all. That implies that the two are opposites. All you’re doing is adding some space in the middle to be all “You can be between the two!”, but what about people who are both or something completely unrelated?

        The concept of biological sex is gross in general and seems to reduce people to their hormones, chromosomes, and junk. (And how many people even know what chromosomes they have? It’s not like anyone actually CHECKS.) If you must include something, refer to it as ASAB (assigned sex at birth).

        I like the idea of asexual having a spectrum of its own: from asexual to sexual (spanning the grey-A and demi-sexual areas in between), but those are clear opposites (if I’m wrong, someone please correct me). Having “man” and “woman” or “male” and “female” or “feminine” and “masculine” be clear opposites just rubs me the wrong way.

        Anyway, my CASAB is irrelevant to my gender identity (which, for the record, is genderqueer) and not really anyone’s business. I think most people would agree.

        • Lydia

           Hi Puck,

          I agree with many of the points you made and the suggestions you provided. I also feel uncomfortable with having “man” and “woman’ or “male” and “female” or “feminine” and “masculine” in the linear opposites that the poster above provides. As I mentioned in an earlier post, though this poster is great at it’s attempts of providing an incredibly general idea of gender, sex, and sexuality. It is hard to conceptualize something that it not things that are not linear at all and very personal in many ways.
          Having said all that, while working with what the poster has provided those were some suggestions made. I love the idea of adding “assigned sex at birth” and the need to take away the “biological sex” part. The idea of “biological sex” creates a second class citizen effect that means those who do not identify withing the bi-linear idea of male and female are non biological…. which is problematic. Perhaps it is important for the poster to explain that though the following are listed as linear, the “ends” of the spectrum is not meant to be opposing ends.

          Sincerely,

          Lydia

      • Lydia

         Hi Samuel,

        Thank you for taking the time to look through the suggestions, actually thank you for taking everyone’s suggestions and comments.

        Originally I typed up a long reply but then lost it when the web page decided to reload and delete all that I had written, so my appologies for a shorter version of this reply.

        I understand fully your concerns with the suggestions I made. Like I had said earlier that is incredibly important to state that the poster is not meant to be the full explanation of the concepts but an attempt to conceptualize something that is not linear into a 2D poster.

        Having said that. My intentions with the all categories was not meant to to have them lined up if the words were placed “closer” to one end it is similar to that particular end, i placed them and had equal spacings trying to point out that they are all equall to each other, but I recognize how interepretations could be viewed as you suggested. Once agian re-affirming that the linear graphs don’t really work.

        I like the suggestion that Puck made about asexuality having the continuum. I put them all together because my thoughts were they all could be linked together but still be separate… then again I’m not sure how you would like to visually accomodate there.

        As to the question about Pandrogeny, it was through the work of two artists Genises Breyer P-Orridge and Lady Jaye P-Orridge that was stripping away ideas of gender and becoming one. It’s pretty interesting and you can look it up. I wanted include other ideas of gender expression. Once again they are only suggestions.

        I hope that this helps a little.

        Sincerely,

        Lydia

      • Ras Tinny

        As I understand it Asexual refers to attraction not to biology. In humans, biological sex is determined by
        five factors present at birth:
        the number and type of sex
        chromosomes (XX à Typical Female / XY
        Typical Male)

        the type of gonads – ovaries or
        testicles (The gonad is the organ that makes gametes or cells with a single
        set of chromosomes)

        the sex hormones (androgens and estrogens (& progestogens)
        ) – both present in both sexes but different levels)

        the internal reproductive anatomy (such as the uterus in females), and the external genitalia.

        People whose five characteristics are not either all typically male or all typically female at birth are intersex.

        Which would suggest that people who go through a sex change are not intersex. Asexuals are as I understand it not attracted to either sex which has little to do with their biological makeup

    • aiden

      where would you place trans identity on your gender identity spectrum? in between cis-man and cis-woman? That doesn’t really make sense to me.

  • http://twitter.com/capri2004 Crystal Miller

    I think Lydia hit on a good revision. I am a pansexual, genderqueer, biological female. I feel that lydia’s ideas are inclusive and hare on the right track. For those interested in a “romantic” continuum, why can’t you use the proposed <3 attracted to continuum? Like in mathematics you can plot two points on a number line, why not put two points on the love/attraction continuum, a love point and an attraction point? 

    • http://samuelkillermann.com/ Samuel Killermann

      Oooo.. this is an elegant solution.  If I specify that attraction means spiritual, physical, AND emotional, that will open that wide up.

  • Alice Bentley

    A graphic that might fit within your current framework is a line with an oval in the middle: 
                      — Both/All
    –women <——> Men
                      — None —
    Imagine a smooth line that separates, shows a word, and then rejoins rather than my crude attempt.

    • http://samuelkillermann.com/ Samuel Killermann

      You mean something like this crude attempt?  

      What do you think folks?  Better or worse?

  • Tom

    Hi there

    I think perhaps it shouldn’t be a linear path… it’s not like being attracted to “both/all” is actually in between being attracted to women and being attracted to men. I feel as though that exists alongside them, not in between two poles. The whole thing could maybe be more circular… or even like a venn diagram or something, where things overlap each other to create new categories. As it is, some categories exist between other ones, and some categories are separated from each other, and I don’t feel that does things justice.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_YNPRKFLTONZB6JOJRAJOBCIQRQ steward

    I think the best way to use it – both for education and for a dialectical improvement by people’s comments on their own Genderbread person – would be to change it to an interactive person, with actual slide bars to use.

    • http://samuelkillermann.com/ Samuel Killermann

      I had that idea a few weeks ago, but I don’t have the time (right now) to code something like that.  Want to offer your services? 

  • Cathygator

    the sexual orientation scale should reflect the continuum of the populations identity and orientation.
    Feminine         Masculine       Androgynous        Feminine        Masculinefemale             female          genderqueer           male               maleThis is very simplistic and the masc-fem and fem-male may be switched depending on your perspective.

    • http://samuelkillermann.com/ Samuel Killermann

      Can you explain this a bit more?  I’m not quite sure I’m understanding what you mean.  Maybe a doodle and a cell phone snap shot would help?

      • Pablitomon

        based on all these comments, you all are trying to reinvent the wheel. Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder. Exlaining sexual orientation, what is normal, what is divine, what is good or evi, or religion vs. ritual. The minute you think you’ve got it.. its gone…

  • http://www.alterpride.org/ Randall Krause

    I applaud your work, and it s a good starting point for conceptualizing gender to newcomers, but I do think there are advantages to maintaining simplicity without burdening readers with minutia. There are some people like myself who dismiss spectrums as an outdated model of gender and sexuality, and instead embrace a universe. And I cannot fathom rendering a 3-d space in such a confined poster :)

    The shortcoming of spectrums is what I refer to as conditional normative polarization — the tendency to equate intermediary attributes as subordinate to the polar attributes, effectively imposing a “hierarchy of normativity”. Bisexuality for example, as represented on the Kinsey scale, is implicitly a condition of “partial homosexuality”, and therefore dependent on and inferior to homosexuality which is a fallacy. Not to mention, the Kinsey scale represents homosexuality as the greatest deviation from heterosexuality. Also the Kinsey scale does not even address the issue of gender nonconformity whatsoever. As an advocate of sexual diversity, I believe the Kinsey scale (and all continuums) are actually hindering our struggle for validation of bisexuality and pansexuality. Personally, an Euler diagram is perhaps the most accurate 2-d model because it emphasizes sexual independence.

    I also avoid the loaded term sexual orientation, and much prefer to opt for the triad of sexual identity vs. sexual attraction vs. sexual behavior. All three are essential to defining our sexual self, whereas the term sexual orientation is analogous to proclaiming “gender identity, gender expression, and birth-assigned sex are all synonymous.” 

    Still it is a fun graphic, and I like the concept. Thanks for the great work :)

    ~Randy

    • http://samuelkillermann.com/ Samuel Killermann

      Randy,

      I am really happy I didn’t miss this comment as I’ve been making my rounds.  I recently gave away my “Best Comment I’ve Read” award on another post, so it’d be flimsy to say it again, but I want to tell you that comments like this are why I’m happy I’m writing this site.

      I had never heard the term conditional normative polarization, nor considered its implications.  But you’re absolutely right.  And for the first time I understand why bi- folks are so anti gay/bi-/straight continuum.

      I’m currently in a pretty elaborate three-way email conversation with a couple of brilliant people working to create a better graphic to demonstrate sexuality (where this one is primarily gender-focused), and we’re trying as hard as we can to come up with an alternative to the 3-D model.  3-D models are just SO tough for many people to wrap their minds around.

      Sexual orientation is certainly a loaded term.  It’s another area where I’m constantly struggling with the dilemma of whether or not to buy into layperson terminology for sake of clarity.

      Would you be willing to write a guest post elaborating on what you described so clearly here?  If so, email me and let’s chat [email protected]

      -sK

    • Sue Ellen Braunlin

      Yes! The problem with Christian sexuality is dualism, so it is important for a new graphic to refute linear polarities.

    • Raymond Barrett

      I know this is an old post, but I just wanted to throw this out there for anyone who comes across this in the future.

      Regarding “sexual orientation,” I’m not at all convinced that heterosexual and homosexual are opposites. I know that seems to be the most obvious conclusion but it doesn’t feel right. My “spectrum” goes more like this:

      I liked the point that someone raised regarding the difference between sexual and romantic attraction, but I think that might be getting too complex for an info graphic.

  • Annonymous

    The diagram is missing a pretty important piece, which is AGE. For example, someone may be sexually attracted to teenage boys but not to 50 year old men. Likewise, someone may be sexually attracted to 50 year old women but not to teenage girls. So there should be one more line:

    which would allow for either end of the spectrum or variations in-between.

    • guest

      I agree.  The whole thing is nullified if age of attraction is not dealt with.

  • Stewart

    I’m sure this has been brought to the fore already, but the notion of pan-sexuality is important.  The easy, interactive way I see it is that if this graphic is digital or online, the marker that goes from one side to the other of the slider can not only move, but me made more narrow or wider.  In other words, a person can spread their identity along a narrow portion of the spectrum, or a wider portion.

  • Nicola

    I like the new sexual/orientation version

  • Anonymous

    this sexuality spectrum, as spectrums go, is way way better!  i think maybe a better way to deal with “gender identity” is just to have a list, perhaps with a brief explanation after each: something like “man, woman, bigender (a combination or mixture of man and woman), agender/neutrois (neither man nor woman), genderqueer (between or beyond the man/woman binary), and many more”.  or if you really think the continuum is necessary, include an “agender” section like you did for “asexual”.  i have to admit i don’t really have any ideas for the “biological sex” section; perhaps you could just include in your discussion that biologically speaking trans people can fall anywhere on the spectrum depending on our access to and desire for medical transition?

  • Bignikp

    You have too many variables to plot on a single axis, it might be better represented on 2  ( maybe 3 axis). You may need to speak to a mathematician (or at least a statistician).

    • Paul Wright

      I’m a mathematician! I’ve already posted above, but here’s a draft of my proposed image:
      http://imgur.com/Jjmfp

      The basic idea is that an orientation is not a scale or even a multidimensional space, but a “map” or “function” from the “gender space” to “attraction space”. Both of these are complicated multidimensional spaces.

      For example, I identify as a straight male, but I could be
      physically attracted to anyone with a female or androgynous gender
      expression. I wouldn’t want to have sex with someone with a penis,
      regardless of their gender identity or expression. However if someone identified and expressed as female, but still had a penis, I might fall in love with her without necessarily wanting to have sex. So there is a lot more to my orientation than the word “straight” implies.

      If we assume a simple three point scale for each of identity, expression, and sex, that gives 27 sex/gender combinations. Now, if we assume only one kind of attraction and say that you can either be attracted to someone or not, then there are 2^27 = 134 217 728 different orientations!

      In fact it’s much more than that, because there are many more sex/gender combinations, and many types of attraction. However most orientations can be grouped into subsets and we can assign labels with the prefixes “homo, hetero, a, bi, pan” and the suffixes “sexual” and “romantic”.

      • Dana

        That is very visually appealing and simple but I suspect it would be a little hard to absorb for your average person who’s never contemplated anything but binary anything. 

  • Grace

    Random thought (not sure if anyone else has said it, as there are many comments and I don’t really want to read all of them): Romantic orientation is also a thing. So there can be heteromantic, homoromantic, biromantic, panromantic, etc. asexuals. Also, there are grey-asexuals, who are somewhere between sexual and asexual (and demisexuals, who are only sexually attracted to those with whom they already have an emotional bond, but I’m not sure how you’d show that). Maybe the sexuality spectrum thing should be a square or something. xD Still not sure how you’d fit in romantic orientation, though, not to mention pansexuality/romanticity… :/

    I don’t know much about gender issues, so I won’t try to address that.

    • http://profiles.google.com/helenr.acosta Helen Acosta

      Oh my gosh, Grace! Thank you! I now have a label for my sexuality! Demisexual. WOW. I’ve learned something awesome today…and I feel like less of a freak!

  • ProjectSafeClassroom

    I’ve used an image very much like this for years when I do trainings. It’s hard to come up with a linear spectrum that encompasses all sexual orientations (or for that matter, gender identities, expressions or sexes) that exist. Therefore when I facilitate this activity, I explain the spectrums not as Truth, but rather the way US culture thinks about these identities/experiences. We explore a little of how this is limiting, and who’s identities/experiences are left out by the all-too-common linear model of identity. Then when I suggest folks mark a dot for where they fit, I remind them that it doesn’t have to be on the line. It can be somewhere in the margins, back of the page, across the room – where ever they feel like there identity sits in relationship to the linear spectrum between two dominant poles. If you want to chat more about this, feel free to email me at [email protected]

  • http://profiles.google.com/helenr.acosta Helen Acosta

    Some thoughts on a simple change that addresses the concerns of many in the thread:  Break the continuum suggested into two continuua:  Romantic Attraction and Sexual Desire… as they are 2 different things. Many asexual folks still feel romantic attraction but they have no sexual arousal or desire.  Then, keep the items on each continuua the same. Women-Both/All-Men-Nobody

    This suggestion maintains the simplicity while also accepting all variations (and opens the possibility that some have romantic attractions but no or little sexual desire)

    Only problem: I’m not sure what a simple visual representation of desire would be (all I can think of now is a hand grasping toward)

  • Akj94403

    the issue is the whole thing is flawed. there’s a reason why the model didn’t look good in the first place- it’s not a very accurate model. it’s not stuff that can fit neatly in the lines. the reason why so many people might be telling you it’s broken without telling you how to fix it may be that they don’t want to see it fixed, they want to see it discarded.

    people may have multiple identities in some areas. i have an asexual friend who identifies as a lesbian. have fun trying to put here on here.

    I’m also agender. I don’t fit in this diagram at all.

    also, i’m sick about everything being about my sex assignment at birth. it always turns into some gender-sex essentialist reductionist bs.

  • Anonymous

    Perhaps this has been mentioned already, but visualizing sex, gender, and orientation possibilities as a sphere rather than a line with “opposite” points may make more sense conceptually. This may accidentally reinforce people’s common misguided notion that man is the opposite of woman, male the opposite of female, and so on.

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  • Paul Wright

    I was having a go at updating this graphic the other day on Facebook. Maybe this version will not be so good as an introduction, but it more accurately reflects the state of affairs. It contains information without hiding the fact that sexuality is really, really complicated. It might give you some ideas anyway.

    Personally I think you should keep the genderbread person as is, and scrap the scales altogether. There’s no way it can be done accurately. For example, if gender expression includes whether you wear pants or a
    dress, and how much makeup you wear, then you already have two dimensions. You can’t put that on a sliding
    scale, and it’s silly to try to introduce more scales for every new thing you think of. Similarly, genitals are very complicated objects with a lot of variation and you can’t put them on a sliding scale or a binary either. Gender identity is perhaps not so complicated, there are only finitely many things you can identify as. The important thing about gender identity to other people is that it determines the pronouns. The only way to truly determine whether anyone is a he, she or zie is to ask.

    Keep gender identity, gender expression and biological sex separate and in the same positions, but replace the scales with something complicated looking and multidimensional. I’d suggest doing a Google image search for “Calabi Yau shape” and picking one that looks nice. The idea is not to scare people off, but to make it clear that these things are indeed complicated and that you can’t understand them fully. However the basic idea that “identity between the ears, sex between the legs, expression on the outside” is still simple and easy to understand.

    Now orientation is where it gets interesting. You put all this work into showing that gender/sex is not a simple binary or a scale, but then your orientation scale completely ignores that fact! There’s a way of describing orientation that accounts for a very complicated gender space, and also the fact that there are many kinds of attraction.

    Orientation is a “map”, or a “function”. It’s a like a machine that takes in genders (points in that complicated gender space), and tells you how attracted you can be to a person like that. So an orientation allows you to say things like the following.

    “I am only ever romantically and physically attracted to people who identify as female, but if they have male characteristics that’s ok”
    “I only want to have sex with people who have penises”
    “I am sometimes physically attracted to people whose gender expression doesn’t match their biological sex”
    “Stockings turn me on”
    “I always fall in love with feminine boys”

    Back to the graphic. What you need is something representing different kinds of attraction. You could do three axes for “physical, romantic and sexual”, or you could use another scary multidimensional shape. Then for orientation, all you need some arrows from all the gender/sex shapes to the attraction shape. Maybe include a brief explanation about how orientation is a map from gender space to attraction space or something.

    Here’s my very brief attempt at reworking the image. http://imgur.com/Jjmfp

  • Kitpub

    I like this a lot — except for the first one, Gender Identity.  If I just start thinking of myself as a woman, is this enough to change my gender identity?  What if my hormonal levels are right, does that really strengthen my case?  And, from the opposite perspective, if someone says to me, “I am a man,” and I see in front of me a woman, must I defer to that person’s belief?  (To me, doing so would feel very 1984.)  It seems to me that identity has an element of *agreement* in it that’s not taken into account in this picture.

    That said, what a great idea.  Looking forward to draft 2.

    • Chris Smith

      If someone says to you, “I am a man”, and you see in front of you a woman, you need to reevaluate your idea of what it means to be a man.

  • Guest

    I don’t really think you need to change it necessarily. Just because there’s a line there doesn’t mean your identity has to fall on the line ;)

  • http://www.gabiclayton.com Gabi Clayton

    I really like what you have already done and yes it can be improved. I applaud your wanting to keep it simple so as not to overwhelm. My first reaction was that it is too linear and I wish it could be less so but maybe that is not possible. My only other suggestion is that you consider some of the categories mentioned in the Klein Scale: http://www.bisexual.org/kleingrid.html

  • Lesleyfoxt

    This is not your idea. The sexual minority youth resource center (SMYRC) in Portland Oregon has been using a graphic like this for more than 10 years. They call it gender gumby. Check out these amazing youth and the fantastic things they do with their community education program “Bridge 13″ at http://Www.SMYRC.org

    • Dana

      It’s not a competition. If MORE people are talking about it, that is a good thing! 

  • Steven_asali

    I don’t know much about asexuality, but I’ve read somewhere that to some degree, asexual person can also be attracted to other person. If I’m not mistaken they call it romantic and aromantic asexual. There can be romantic asexual who’s attracted to same same sex too.

    so, why dont you keep the sexual orientation bar, and add another bar named “sexual need” (or something like that) like this

    Aromantic Asexual Sexual

  • Allana in Alba

    tbh, you cant include everything in a simple diagram. There will always be some part missing. If you try to include every possibility, then it will be huge, more complicated than the mind, and you will still not have included every variance.
    Keep it relatively simple, and most of the public will understand it. That’s why you have 1/2 million hits so far

  • http://twitter.com/soundasleep Jevon Wright

    Perhaps:

    sexual orientation:
    sexuality:

    I don’t know where pansexuality fits in… maybe:

    sexually attracted to:

    • http://hypergraphia.comicdish.com/index.php?page=Links Laura Ess

      I adopted the pansexual label last year after years of struggling with the bisexual label. My understanding of pansexual is that it’s not the body or gender role that attracts you to a person, but their personality. That being the case that doesn’t really belong clumped in with bisexual at all. Like Asexual it’s NOT ON THE SCALE.

  • noct Scottish

    Terminology used mostly in the ace community separates  sexual attraction from romantic attraction. So from women to men on both?

  • http://twitter.com/AlexHorsey Alex

    This may (Actually, it will) complicate things quite a bit, but I propose to eliminate the linear aspect of this graphic altogether. Perhaps circles? Or a clever alternative venn diagram of sorts? Just a thought!

    I’m using this graphic for my GSA’s Trans* 101 meeting, but I’m only going to print out the Genderbread Man, not the explanations/lines.

    • Alex Horsey

      *Genderbread Person. Please excuse my blip.

  • Dana

    I hope you’re still checking this thread… I made a very crude mash up of noct Scottish’s add-ons and your “line with an oval in it” and it works well to my mind. I may well be missing something but I thought hetero vs homo sexual and romantic attraction avoids issues with invoking binary gender in an illustration about how not-binary gender is!

  • Guest

    I think this graphic does a great job of introducing people to the concept that there’s more types of people in the world than just cisman/ciswoman, straight/gay. It isn’t really self-explanatory on its own (you would have to be familiar with the concepts to understand what the spectrums mean), but with your short descriptive text I think explains it in a way a beginner could understand.

    The main suggestion I can think of, is to perhaps add some indication that these four parameters aren’t meant to be comprehensive. Perhaps an ellipsis or something, to suggest further scales and values? As many people have said, this graphic doesn’t show every possible identity. But I think once you open people up to the idea that there are these four different parameters, each of which can have any value from one end of the scale to the other, they’re going to be more willing to accept that there could be additional parameters, variations, and identities beyond those in the graphic (it’s just going from one infinity to a larger infinity). But in case they don’t make that leap, having some graphic indication that there are more possible identities could be helpful.

  • Jessica Boor

    I think there should be more than one continuum regarding sexual orientation. For example there is a range sexual attraction from being attracted to no one, to one monosexual, bi sexual, pansexual, etc…
    Additionally there is continuua regarding one’s sexual identity, there is continuua in one’s sexual behaviors, in one’s emotional attractions, in one’s fantasies. I think sexual orientation is far too complicated to have on just one scale with just a couple listed IDs on it

  • SireH

    What if you had the same extremes to the sides, but the lines on both sides branched into an oval in the center, like this:     

    …and then, within that oval, what if there was a line on which individuals could write their identity, if their identity didn’t fit on the spectrum? This is simple, and allows for all identities ever.

    • SireH

      Oh, and, ‘biological sex’ should DEFINITELY be changed to ‘sex assigned at birth.’ It’s really alienating. As a trans person, the use of ‘biological sex’ feels like a sneaky way to try to get me and other trans people to divulge what’s in our pants, when the state of my genitalia are my own damn business and not something I want to talk about with groups.
      Also, people who are uninformed about trans issues are always using the ‘well, your biological sex is ______ so you’re *actually* -enter gender-’ argument, so the words themselves carry hurtful connotations from the start, in my experience.

  • http://hypergraphia.comicdish.com/index.php?page=Links Laura Ess

    It’s ridiculous that a simple scale from A to Z can actually represent anything other than how the person making the scale sees that which it attempts to describe, fit into society. I’m surprised there’s no reference to the Klein Sexual Orientation scales (see http://www.bisexual.org/kleingrid.html) which though also flawed at least attempts to show a difference between desire, fantasy and practice.

  • Brian Mayer

    I used te original picture in an impromptu lesson to my inner city latino high school class. The main point that ingot them to understand ( and well enough that at the end if the lesson they knew the four answers) is that gender is comprised of 1) who you thing you are 2) who you love 3) what giblets are in your pants and 4) what pants you show the world.

    Thank you.

    I’ve read a bunch of the comments about improving the model, but want you to know in your trying to get an A+, you’ve already got an A.

    Brian

  • Elisabeth

    I haven’t read all the comments but firstly would like to say what a fantastic idea this is – the infographic AND asking for help.

    Secondly, I think part of the problem is that you’re trying to represent things by using continuums (if that’s the plural?!) and some of them are not continuums. Maybe trying to do it with Venn diagrams might help?

  • Raf

    you can have a look here which I personally believe it is a great diagram representation for sex, gender and sexuality: http://rccd.edu/administration/humanresources/Documents/Ally%20Program/AlliesPacket.pdf

  • Imaginaryperson

    have thought of using a wheel like a painters wheel? You could put the different sexualities like colors on the wheel with asexual in the middle outside the spectrum itself.

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  • Rudi

    Hey, I really like your genderbread person poster!

    I agree that despite how special and unique everybody feels, it needs to keep its simplicity to project the idea.

    However as a medic, I woud just like to add a comment, regarding the ‘biological sex’ part.
    The biological sex is actually composed of 3 components, that you put together in the same box, and that might a bit oversimplified.

    1. the chromosomal sex (so XX for female and XY for male- ok there are rare variants like XXY and X0- but to keep it simple, the 2 chromosomes that define chromosomal sex are X and Y).

    2.the phenotypical sex (to keep it simple: vagina, penis). Phenotype stands for observational characteristics i.e. how it looks (biological looks not how it dresses or wants to look:) ) from the outside.

    3. the gonadal sex (ovary or testis to keep it simple, leaving the rare ovotesticle out for the simplicity’s sake). A gonad is the organ that makes gametes, so ovary in the females and testicle in the male.

    These three components of the biological sex do not necessarily fall all together as one would expect in a person due to various genetic/medical reasons.
    (these three factors are also used in peadiatrics to establish the sex of a newborn with ambiguous genitalia for example).

    Cheers!

  • http://twitter.com/DominicDavies1 Dominic Davies

    Sexual Orientation could remain but sexual preference could be added.  I’m concerned BDSM/Kink are missing and for many this is a lifestyle/enduring sexual preference which for some operates irrespective of gender of partner or isn’t even partner specific.  In this we might include fetishes (objects, clothing etc), power/role (Dom/sub Daddy/boi) and sensation (CP, bondage, sitting in a cage). Different strokes for different folks!

    Also asexuals might be hetero or homo or bi romantic and see their asexuality as an orientation

    Good luck, it’s good to see someone working on this so diligently!

  • Rose

    Sam the original Genderbread person was brown as are the majority of gingerbread cookies. You must revert this Genderbread 2.0 back to the color of the original one:brown. I have seen very few to none yellow gingerbread cookies!

  • em

    how about a cross diagram?
    it could have an x and a y axis.
    on the top of the y axis could be pansexual (attracted to many)
    on the bottom of the y axis could be asexual (no attraction)
    on the left of the x axis could be heterosexual (opposite-sex attraction.)
    on the right of the x axis could be homosexual (same-sex attraction.)
    and right in the centre where both lines meet could be bisexual (both-sex attracted)
    this includes the different orientations, and also gives room for fluid expression, so someone may not be 100% strictly heterosexual or 100% strictly asexual.
    idk that’s just an idea i’ve had.

  • Erin

    The problem is, people are only thinking in one dimension! See here: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=484395984907545&l=1e17a6510d It neatly encompasses all sexual orientations that are known to me, in two dimensions, both masculinity/femininity and pansexuality/asexuality.

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  • Abi C.S.

    Hi! I would like to see a spectrum of sexuality (not sexual orientation.. It would show the extent to which people experience their sexuality). Because asexuality, like everything else, is a spectrum.

  • http://www.facebook.com/elsie.broek Elsie Broek

    Why have the scales in the first place? Have just been reading about Kelly’s “Personal Construct Theory” and that’s exactly what those there. They “privilege” the qualities at the end and tend to either “explain” others as a mix, or exclude them by omission. Why not just have the gingerbread man alone?

  • http://www.facebook.com/beitani.gorski BeitAni Gorski

    When I teach gender, sex, and sexuality diversity, I use a rainbow-colored torus ring. By avoiding continuums, I’m not actively contributing the erasure of third gender, fourth gender, intersex, bigender two-spirit, or other genderqueer folks by suggesting that the only options for “real” identities are man, woman, or “something in-between”

    In addition there’ room for the biological diversity of sex. Even though being Intersex is not that rare and there are many many different ways to be Intersex, many endosex folks assume that the only options are “male” “female” or “both/neither” which is, again, incorrect and contributes to the erasure of about 2% of the population.

    With regard to sexuality, if you don’t have a way to show attraction to folks who are genderqueer and/or Intersex in all of their diversity (which does not happen on a continuum), then again, you’re contributing to their erasure and also to that of the folks who are attracted to them (polysexual, pansexual, etc).

    The rainbow colored torus ring has a middle (like a doughnut hole) that holds a space for agender and asexual folks.

    Totally user-friendly, colorful and fun, and no one has to be left out or misrepresented!

    Please facebook me if you would like to see the graphic I made that is truly all inclusive. (https://www.facebook.com/beitani.gorski)

  • kay

    I really like this poster, especially as someone who’s genderqueer and has to explain that a lot. That being said, I think the biggest problem most people have with it is that it doesn’t include much room for people outside the spectrum – and makes the spectrum the “norm”, thus unintentionally marginalizing everyone outside of it a bit. I think a disclaimer at the top that not everyone identifies along the spectrum – but that these are some common identities it would be good to familiarize yourself with – would be good. I also think mentioning that these things can be fluid and so subject to change would be nice (although I get how hard it is to explain everything in a simple poster, and this is really accessible and well-thought out over all :D). Most importantly, I think there should be something next to each spectrum our outside it on the diagram to represent “non-polar” or “off the spectrum” classifications – and not something small and incidental either, because it should be given equal representation with the spectrum. Maybe you could have a line representing each spectrum with a circle / torus next to it, that says “off the spectrum” in the middle? The only thing is, words with “non” or “off” at the start are still classifying things not part of the spectrum as “other”, and so can sound derogatory. But if you could find a good phrase, I think a line next to a circle for each set of classifications would be a really good idea. Finally, I also agree that romantic orientation is very important – there are some people that are bisexual but heteromantic, for example. Having a section on that would be good.

  • salm

    how about a slider for libido?

  • Simone Cociancich

    Orientation need not be a single personal attribute, but rather a relation linking an individual with the ideal individual to whom they are attracted. This other ideal individual in turn will have all the sexual dimensions one may find appropriate to define (with as much fuzzy values as needed for each, so to cover the attraction “target area”)