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Sexuality and Gender

Here at Family Planning we believe that all people in all bodies have the right to high quality non-judgemental sexual and reproductive healthcare.

Here is some useful information if you want to understand the concepts surrounding sex, sexuality, and gender:


Sex is defined as the two main categories  into which humans and many other living things are divided based on reproductive functions. It includes genetic, hormonal and physical characteristics.

For example, people will either have male sex parts such as a penis, female sex parts such as a uterus or vagina, or sometimes both (intersex). They may have XX chromosomes (female) or XY chromosomes (male) or if they are intersex, they may have characteristics of both. They may be high in testosterone (a male hormone) or they may be high in oestrogen and progesterone (female hormones). 

The word sex can also be used to describe the act of intimacy between people. It can be the physical contact between individuals involving sexual stimulation; sexual activity or behaviour.

Sex is different to both sexuality and gender.


Sexuality is used to describe attraction but is so much more than this. Attraction is a component of sexuality. For example someone might be:

  • attracted to the same sex (homosexual/gay/lesbian), 
  • attracted to the opposite sex (heterosexual/straight), 
  • attracted to people of both male and female sexes (bisexual), 
  • attracted to people of any sex or gender (pansexual), or
  • not attracted to anyone at all (asexual).


Gender describes how people identify. For example, cisgendered describes a person whose gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth. 

A transgendered/trans person is someone who identifies as a gender different to the sex they were assigned at birth.

Non-binary is a term used to describe people who do not identify specifically as one gender or another. They might identify as both male and female, neither male or female, or something else.

Gender dysphoria

Gender dysphoria is a diagnosis given when someone is experiencing pain or discomfort stemming from a mis-match between the gender they identify with, and the gender they have been assigned. 

Not everyone who is transgendered or non-binary experiences this distress, but many do, and without support or treatment they can experience serious mental ill-health outcomes.


It is against the law to discriminate against people because of their sex, gender, or sexual preference. 

‘Hate speech’ laws in Tasmania say that any conduct which offends, humiliates, intimidates, insults or ridicules another person because of sexual orientation and gender identity is also illegal.

For more information

If someone you know is LGBTI+ or is questioning their gender or sexuality and needs caring and non-judgemental sexual and/or reproductive health care, let them know that they are welcome at Family Planning.

If you need additional information or support, or want to learn how to be a better ally, check out these links:

Video below:

Learn more about intersex people, the ‘I’ in LGBTQIA+ in the below video produced by ABC News.

This content is provided for general information and education purposes only and does not take into account individual circumstances. It is not to be relied on in substitution for specific advice from a medical professional and Family Planning Tasmania does not accept responsibility for such use. Family Planning Tasmania has taken every effort to ensure that the information is up to date and accurate, however information and knowledge is subject to change. Family Planning Tasmania advises that you always consult a medical professional for individual advice.

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