Gender Triangle Education Guide

Developed in partnership with InterACT

GLSEN and interACT developed the Gender Triangle as an educational tool to highlight the main components that revolve around gender identity—our bodies, how we use our bodies to express ourselves, and how the world around us reads our bodies based on the cultural and social codes of our time and place.

First, everyone has a BODY. And how our bodies exist and develop over time is unique. Although ideas about gender are often imposed on our bodies—facial hair attributed to manhood or chest development to womanhood—these physical traits do not always inform our identity. Instead, assumptions are made because of how others interpret our BODILY CHARACTERISTICS.

Upon birth, we are typically categorized into one of two genders (boy or girl) depending on how our genitals are read. Throughout our lives, however, our many bodily characteristics work together to create a unique path of development, causing some of us to grow really tall, and others to remain short, or some of us to grow hair under our armpits and legs, while others remain bare. While this development often happens on its own during puberty, this change can also be administered through medicine, such as hormone replacement therapy. Since our society often conflates our bodies (or genitalia) with our gender identity, it is critical that we allow space for people to self-identify. Some may feel that their bodies are distinct from their gender while others feel that the two are interrelated. Our bodily development is different, and so are our understandings of the relationship between our bodies and our genders.