Teen Guides to Health & Wellness Anxiety, Depression, and Mood Disorders Diets, Cleanses, and Fitness Drugs and Alcohol School and Your Health Sexuality and Gender Identity Sleep and Hygiene Smoking and Vaping Social Media and the Internet Suicide and Self-Harm Tattoos, Piercings, and Body Modifications

Teen Guides to Health & Wellness

H.W. Poole

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Copyright © 2023 by Mason Crest, an imprint of National Highlights, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Printed in the United States of America First printing 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Series ISBN: 978-1-4222-4419-7 Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4222-4425-8 ebook ISBN: 978-1-4222-7388-3 Cataloging-in-Publication Data on file with the Library of Congress

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CONTENTS Introduction. ...................................................................6 Chapter 1: Sex, Gender, and Sexuality.............................9 Chapter 2: Building Healthy Relationships.....................29 Chapter 3: Safe Sex and Contraception..........................45 Chapter 4: What Do I Do Now?. ...................................... 71 Organizations and Hotlines............................................88 Further Reading and Online Resources...........................90 Series Glossary of Key Terms.......................................... 92 Index. ............................................................................94 About the Author / Credits..............................................96 K E Y I C O N S T O L O O K F O R : Words to Understand: These words with their easy-to-understand definitions will increase the reader’s understanding of the text while building vocabulary skills. Sidebars: This boxed material within the main text allows readers to build knowledge, gain insights, explore possibilities, and broaden their perspectives by weaving together additional information to provide realistic and holistic perspectives. Educational Videos: Readers can view videos by scanning our QR codes, providing them with additional educational content to supplement the text. Examples include news coverage, moments in history, speeches, iconic sports moments, and much more! Text-Dependent Questions: These questions send the reader back to the text for more careful attention to the evidence presented there. Research Projects: Readers are pointed toward areas of further inquiry connected to each chapter. Suggestions are provided for projects that encourage deeper research and analysis. Series Glossary of Key Terms: This back-of-the-book glossary contains terminology used throughout this series. Words found here increase the reader’s ability to read and comprehend higher-level books and articles in this field.

In this health set, there are some volumes that are largely focused on physical health, such as the volume on diet and fitness, while others are largely focused on mental health, such as the one on anxiety and depression. But frequently things aren’t so clear-cut: mental and physical health are often interconnected. For example, consider the major impact that sleep can have on both physical and mental health. This volume, on sexuality, is another of those intertwined volumes. Sex and sexuality have huge implications for both our physical and emotional health. Sex is everywhere on mass media—in TV shows and movies, as well as on social media apps like Instagram and Snapchat. Meanwhile, discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity, once only whispered about if discussed at all, are now commonplace. The pervasiveness of sexual images and conversations may give you the idea that everybody your age is sexually active, or that everybody has to “decide” their orientation right away. None of that is not true. According to a survey published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fewer than half of teens between 15 and 19 reported that they had been sexually active. If you decide to wait until you are older, you are actually in the majority, not the minority. There is no rush. And the same goes for your orientation


and gender identity—for some young people, it’s all very clear right away. For others, it takes time to figure out. There’s nothing wrong with giving yourself some time. When you know, you’ll know. If you do decide to become sexually active, it’s essential that you take responsibility for both your own health and the health of your partner. And that involves both physical health—such as being careful with contraception and always practicing safe sex—as well as emotional and mental health. You will find basic information on all those aspects here. If you have more questions, consider contacting one of the hotlines listed at the back.


Once a newborn has been assigned a sex, a host of assumptions immediately come into play. Babies with “male” on their birth certificates are likely to be flooded with blue items, while female babies can expect to receive pink items.


anomaly: something that is different fromwhat is expected: for example, in a medical context the word does not mean that something is bad, only that it is not typical binary: relating to two things, as in either X or Y chromosome: a structure found in the nuclei of cells; a typical human has 23 pairs of chromosomes inherent: built-in translocation: describes the movement of something from one place to another


Sex, Gender, and Sexuality

Language is hugely important to how we perceive ourselves and each other. The words we use to describe other people are inextricably linked to how we think about them. In order to talk about such intimate and complex issues as gender and sexuality, it’s essential that we make sure we choose our words with accuracy and care. So let’s start off this book by looking at the words we use—what they are, what they mean, and why they matter. Sex: It’s Complicated For a long time—and sometimes even now—the word sex has been used interchangeably with the word gender. But while we use those words as though they are the same in conversations, they are actually different. While sex and gender are certainly interconnected, they are not interchangeable. A person’s sex refers to biology, which at first glance may seem like a very simple matter. When babies are born,


This diagram from the American Cancer Society shows examples of the translocation of chromosomes. Occasionally, a similar process can occur with the Y sex chromosome, which results in genetically atypical males.

they are assigned a particular sex. Most of the time, it’s a binary choice: a newborn is assumed to be either male or female. Biological sex exists at the cellular level. Usually the cells of biological males have pairs of X and Y chromosomes, while females have pairs of double X chromosomes. Because humans have 46 chromosomes in each cell, a genetically typical male can be described as 46,XY and a genetically typical female as 46,XX. Pretty simple, right? Not quite. First, while 46,XY and 46,XX are by far the most common way chromosomes are arranged, numerous

Teen Guides to Health & Wellness: Sexuality and Gender Identity


other arrangements are possible. Some people have a third chromosome, and thus are 47,XY or 47,XX. Other people have only one, meaning they are 45,Y or 45,X. Other variations, such as 47,XXX and 47,XYY can also happen; a person can even be 49,XXXXY. It’s rare, but a person also be 46,XX/46,XY, which indicates that some cells have one arrangement and some have the other. And a very small number of men are actually 46XX, due to what’s known as a translocation of the Y chromosome (see diagram on page 10).


The interplay between genetics and biological sex is extremely complicated, and this book can only skim the surface of this highly technical topic. If you are interested in delving deeper into the genetic aspects of males and females, you might want to start with an article on the Scientific American website, “Stop Using Phony Science to Justify Transphobia: Actual Research Shows That Sex Is Anything but Binary” (https://blogs. scientificamerican.com/voices/stop-using phony-science-to-justify-transphobia).

Sex, Gender, and Sexuality


Meanwhile, not all external genitals look exactly alike. Yes, most of the time, a newborn’s biological sex is immediately apparent . . . but not always. Occasionally infants are born with what doctors call “ambiguous genitalia.” This can happen because of one of those chromosomal anomalies we just mentioned, or simply because one part of the genitals grew in an atypical way. You might be wondering, why do all these rare exceptions matter here? They matter because they teach us that while biological sex may seem simple, it is definitely not. Humans are wonderfully complicated, even at the genetic level. If someone ever tells you that “there are boys and girls and that’s it,” their underlying assumptions are wrong. Once a newborn has been assigned a sex, a whole host of assumptions immediately come into play. Babies with “male” on their birth certificates are likely to be flooded with blue blankets, truck toys, and pajamas with footballs on them. Babies designated “female” can expect to receive pink blankets, dolls, and pajamas with flowers. Why? Gender, that’s why. The word gender refers to the ways in which biological sex plays out in social and cultural settings. Children as young as two years old can identify that boys and girls are different, which suggests that children can understand messages about gender before they can even speak. For example, even in the twenty-first century, we still tend to expect that women are emotional while men are Gender: It’s Even More Complicated

Teen Guides to Health & Wellness: Sexuality and Gender Identity


We tend to expect that women are emotional while men are unemotional. It’s not true, of course—there are many instances when a man may be emotional.

unemotional. It’s not true, of course—no doubt you can think of many instances where you saw a man be passionate or a woman be reserved. But as you grow up in a society, you pick up signals about what gender “means”—how someone of the male gender is “supposed to” dress, behave, and so on, and how that differs from how someone of the female gender is “supposed to” dress and behave. Academics often say that gender is a “construct,” by which they mean that our understanding of gender is not

Sex, Gender, and Sexuality


inherent . We aren’t born automatically knowing that boys “should” play with trucks; that is something that societies build over time. Don’t believe me? Consider this: at the turn of the nineteenth century, the color pink was widely understood to be a masculine color. Blue, which had long been associated with Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a feminine color. The switch began sometime during World War II, and by the 1950s, pink had become firmly established

We aren’t born automatically knowing that boys “should” play with trucks.

Teen Guides to Health & Wellness: Sexuality and Gender Identity


“The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.” — Earnshaw’s Infants Department (trade publication), 1918

as a “feminine” color. Of course, there’s nothing inherently masculine or feminine about a color—they’re just colors. But societies assign those colors with particular meanings. Gender Identity versus Gender Presentation The word identity has a couple of different meanings. It can refer to things like “selfhood,” individuality, and uniqueness. But, at the same time, it can also refer to a very straightforward “form of identification,” like a birth certificate or a driver’s license. In other words, identity can be either the most personal thing imaginable or a government issued document. That speaks to how complicated the issue can be, particularly when gender is involved.

Sex, Gender, and Sexuality


Your gender is deeply personal—it’s part of the essential core of who you are. And yet, as we noted above, gender is also constructed by communities. In other words, gender is both an intimate part of our identities and it’s related to how we interact with others. Sometimes the former is called gender identity , while the latter is gender expression ; identity is internal (how we feel and think), while expression is external (how we act in the world and how the world perceives us).

For transgender people, their gender identities do not match up with the biological sex they were assigned at birth.

Teen Guides to Health & Wellness: Sexuality and Gender Identity


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