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Understanding Orientation - Attracted to What, Exactly?

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I've been thinking about this recently and I wanted to bring it up to hear what others have to say about it.

 

I think there is a difference between people who are attracted to, say, a person with a non-binary gender but female sex because that person is sexually attracted to the female sex, vs. a person who is attracted to that same non-binary person because they don't believe in non-binary genders or trans people.

I'm talking specifically about non-binary and trans folks who have sex characteristics that are often boxed into the male/female extremes. They may not have physically transitioned, for example, or may look 'stereotypically' like a specific sex. A good example is myself, who looks like a pretty stereotypical female, down to gendered fashions, but who identifies as genderqueer and very much not girl.

 

Here's an example of the dichotomy I'm considering:

1. A cis woman considers herself lesbian and finds herself attracted to me, a non-binary person who has stereotypically female sex characteristics. She defines "lesbian" or "homo" in her case as being attracted to the female sex.

2. A cis woman considers herself lesbian and finds herself attracted to me, a non-binary person who has stereotypically female sex characteristics. She defines "lesbian" or "homo" in her case as being attracted to the female gender. 

 

I think case 2 is an example of exorsexism, transmisia, and just generally being a dick about accepting my gender identity. However, I don't think case 1 is also like that.

 

I've heard from non-binary people especially that orientation can be "attracted to x gender" or "attracted to x sex." Sometimes I see the latter category come under fire for being transmisic or exorsexist. I'm not sure I agree with this. I've definitely seen examples of people equating sex and gender mistakenly, sure, but I don't think this goes for everybody.

 

My question is this:

Is orientation defined as attraction to x gender(s) or to x sex(es)? Can it be either/both/fluid depending on the person?

 

I have always thought of orientation not as something prescriptive (like, "I am attracted to men and will always be so I use x label") but as a convenient label for tendencies (like, "I have noticed so far in my life that I am generally/exclusively attracted to men so I use x label for now for simplicity"). The tendency model is a little more inclusive of fluid identities and changes in sexuality over time as a person may evolve or change. However, I've seen some backlash from the LGBTQ+ community about considering orientation in this way, and I'm not sure why. I think that this intracommunity rigidity may be relevant to my question.

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Very interesting question.

I may be wrong (in particular as I am aroace so my understanding of orientation may be biaised), but I always thought that people are attracted to the sex. For a simple reason : it seems people can be attracted before they talk to him/her, so they can't know their gender (though I don't understand everything, I guess gender is more about you personality and attitude, am I right?) And also there would be a lack of vocabulary for people attracted to non binary people.

 

I don't think saying that attraction is about sex is transphobic if we don't deny that sex and gender are different.

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