Heteronormativity is the notion that heterosexuality is the only “normal” sexual orientation and that romantic relationships exist only between the opposite sexes. It is also the belief that people fall distinctly into two genders, male or female, and that their dress and behaviors reflect their biological sex assigned at birth. Similarly, a heteronormative orientation typically means that a person believes that one’s biological sex, gender, and gender expression should align and that one’s sexual orientation should be heterosexual. This creates a system of expectations, demands, and constraints on persons who deviate outside traditional gender, gender roles, or sexual orientations. As such, heteronormativity is linked to heterosexism and homophobia, discussed elsewhere in this encyclopedia.

The term heteronormativity was popularized by the queer theorist Michael Warner in 1991, ...

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