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Bruce Jenner: Sexual orientation and gender identity are "apples and oranges"

Bruce Jenner.
Bruce Jenner.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Bruce Jenner came out as a transgender woman to ABC News's Diane Sawyer in an interview aired Friday, April 24 — and Jenner, who identifies as a woman but was designated male at birth, used the interview to debunk the common misconception that gender identity and sexual orientation are linked.

"It's apples and oranges," Jenner, known as a 1970s Olympian and star on Keeping Up With the Kardashians, said. "There's two different things here. Sexuality is who you personally are attracted to — who turns you on — male or female. But gender identity has to do with who you are as a person and your soul, and who you identify with inside, okay?"

This is a very common misconception. But a transgender person can identify as a woman, even though she was assigned male at birth, and be gay (attracted to other women), straight (attracted to men), bisexual, asexual (sexually attracted to no one), or attracted to a traditionally undefined gender. Trans men, gender nonconforming people, and genderqueer people can also be sexually attracted to men, women, both, no one, or another preference.

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, previously acknowledged that this concept can be difficult to explain. "If somebody was living as a man dating women, and now they're living as a woman dating women, what does that mean? They were straight; now they're gay," Keisling, who's a 55-year-old trans woman in Washington, DC, said. "But did their sexual orientation change, or were they always attracted to women?"

This infographic, put together by Trans Student Educational Resources, helps break through some of that confusion by showing how a person's gender identity and expression fall outside characteristics like sexual orientation and sex assigned at birth:

The gender unicorn explains the difference between gender identity, gender expression and presentation, sex assigned at birth, and sexual and romantic attractions.
(Trans Student Educational Resources)
Trans Student Educational Resources

For more information, read 9 questions about gender identity and being transgender you were too embarrassed to ask.

Watch: Life as a transgender woman

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