Gender Sensitisation Session- An Article
On the 2nd of August 2021, we had a session with our school’s counsellor, Ms. Anushree (she/her). With our cameras on, she started with a mindfulness activity- to concentrate on an object in front of us. Though it was a short and a small activity, this activity would let us have better focus if we do it every day.
As that came to an end, she began with the presentation. Personally, I don’t think there could have been a better introduction to the topic.
As she began with the PowerPoint presentation, she made it clear that the session was a safe space, which was great. Moving on, she asked us a few questions about our personalities- do we like marvel or DC? Are we supporters of the LGBT community? Are we feminists? And some more interactive questions. She then moved on to tell us how important it is to understand who we are. Our likes and dislikes, our dreams, our ambitions, our gender identity, sexuality and more such factors make us who we are.
The next slide was an introduction to gender, sex and sexuality. She explained what each of those terms meant-
Gender – cultural meanings attached to being masculine and feminine, which influence personal identities.
Sex – Biological traits that society associated with being a male or female
Sexuality – Sexual attraction, practices and identity which may or may not align with sex and gender
As we went ahead, ma’am touched upon the various gender identities, gender expression, biological sex and sexual orientations.
Gender identities – Woman, Genderqueer, Man
Gender expression – Feminine, Androgynous, Masculine
Biological Sex – Female, Intersex, Male
Sexual Orientation – Heterosexual, Bisexual, Homosexual
The next slide included a wonderful art including and explaining the LGBTQ+
L – Lesbian – a woman who is primarily attracted to a woman
G – Gay – a man who is primarily attracted to a man
B – Bisexual – an individual who is attracted to both, people of their own gender and opposite gender
T – Transgender – A person whose gender identity differs from their assigned sex at birth
Q – Queer – An umbrella term to be more inclusive of the many identities and variations that make up the LGBTQ+ community.
Q – Questioning – The process of exploring and discovering one’s own sexual orientation, gender identity/ gender expression
I-Intersex – An individual whose sexual anatomy or chromosomes does not fit with the traditional markers of “female” and “male”.
A – Ally – Typically a non-queer person who supports and advocates for the queer community; an individual within the LGBTQ+ community can be an ally for another member that identifies differently from them
A – Asexual – An individual who generally does not feel any sexual desire or attraction to any group of people.
P-Pansexual – A person who experiences sexual, romantic, physical / or spiritual attraction to members of all gender identities/expressions, not just people who fit into the standard gender binary.
The next topic was about personal space. What is personal space? Well, there are two kinds of personal space –
Physical Personal Space – The space physically around which is your “bubble” and only very few people who you care about dearly enter. This may vary from person to person and some may not want anyone to enter
- Personal space can also mean how some people may not like being touched by strangers, or even sometimes loved ones. Each person has a varying understanding of what their personal space is and we as humans, must respect that no matter what.
- A general standard in terms of distance is
- A person 0.5m away from you is in the intimate circle, i.e only people who you are very close to and you care about dearly should ideally enter this circle.
- A person who is 1.2m away from you is in the personal circle, i.e only your friends and family should ideally enter this circle.
- A person who is 3.0m away from you is in the social circle, i.e strangers/ people who you’re just acquaintances with should ideally enter this circle
Mental Personal Space – Sometimes people ask too many questions, and we may not like that. When someone makes you feel uncomfortable by the things they’re talking or asking, we say that they’ve intruded into our mental space.
Moving on, we spoke about consent. So, what is consent and why is it important? The permission which should be taken before entering another person’s personal space is consent. It is important because if we do not take consent, it can lead to the other person feeling very very uncomfortable. When it comes to consent, it is very simple, only a yes means yes and a no means no. Nodding of the head, shrugging, etc is not consent.
It is also very important to remember that, it is perfectly okay to say no and it is also okay to withdraw consent at any time. Also, never assume consent as comfort levels change from individual to individual. Saying no does not make you a bad person, it does not make you a person that does not care, it does not make you selfish and it is not a rejection.
Every relationship has its own context and it can be healthy or unhealthy. Relationships form out of ease and willingness from both parties and it changes with time and situation.
A healthy relationship stands on a strong base including, honesty, patience, respect, communication, appreciation, validation, empowerment, value and most importantly, love.
With that, Anushree ma’am ended the presentation and proceeded to interact with us. She asked me to explain what my understanding of gender pronouns was, and I did that.
He/him – A person who identifies as a male
She/her – A person who identifies as a female
He/him/they/them – A gender fluid person who prefers to be referred to as them, they, he or him
She/her/they/them – A gender fluid person who prefers to be referred to as them, they, he or him
They/them – A non-binary person.
Right after that, ma’am quickly winded up and we left the session.
Personally, I feel this is by far the best session that has been conducted at our institution. Gender sensitisation is a very important topic and not many were educated on this topic before this session.
– Siddharth Ramachandran II B