As Debbie attempts to understand Sasha’s gender, her thoughts keep returning to sex. “Who are you attracted to?” she asks. “Do you have sexual feelings for men?” Sasha, however, isn’t interested in in having sex with anyone. To Sasha, “terms like homosexual and heterosexual make no sense” because they don’t feel like either a man or a woman. Unlike Debbie, Sasha does not view gender, sexuality, and romance as “one big interconnected tangle of feelings.”
Homosexual and heterosexual “make no sense” to Sasha because these terms rely on a binary understanding of gender. In order to be either homosexual or heterosexual, Sasha must first identify as either male or female. Since they don’t, they do not fit neatly into these categories either.
The genderqueer community online has taught Sasha new “language for combing the tangle [of gender, sexuality, and romance] into individual strands.” Sex is merely biology, the “chromosomes, organs, and anatomy” that makes a body a man or woman. Gender is “what people feel about themselves, how they feel inside,” while sexuality is the “category for who you feel physically attracted to.” Romance, on the other hand, is “who you feel romantic attraction to.” There are several distinctions within these general categories as well, and to Sasha, this new language is “like a gigantic menu, with columns and columns of choices.”
The language of the online genderqueer community offers Sasha increased understanding of their gender and sexual identity outside of the widespread male/female gender binary. This spectrum allows for more choices and subtle differences among people and does not rely on an either/or understanding of gender. Furthermore, this language dispenses with the assumption that gender and sexuality are linked. In the LGBTQ community, these terms are viewed independent of one another.