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Gender identity

Gender identity is a way to describe how a person feels about their gender. A person might identify as a boy or a girl or something different. This is different from a person's sex, which is related to physical body and biology. People are assigned a gender identity at birth based on their sex.

About gender identity

Everyone has a gender identity and expresses it in a unique and personal way. 

No one else can tell a person what their gender identity is. Only that person knows how they feel and they should never feel pressured to label themselves or fit in with other people’s ideas.

Some people know from a young age that their gender identity doesn’t feel the same as the one they were assigned at birth. Some people might take a while to work out their gender identity. This is completely fine. Everyone is unique.

Words and phrases surrounding gender

When talking about gender, there are a lot of words and phrases you might not have heard before. We’ve listed some below, but you might hear more.

Gender expression

This is the way you express your gender. For example, if you identify as a girl, you might want to dress in a certain way or read certain books. A lot of people might not be aware of their gender expression as it’s the natural way we express ourselves.

Gender dysphoria

This is when someone feels uncomfortable about the gender they were assigned and who they really are. For example, if someone was assigned as a boy at birth and grew up feeling this wasn’t right, they may have gender dysphoria. There is help and support available for people who experience this.

Transition/transitioning

If someone feels uncomfortable about their gender identity, they might choose to transition. This is a very personal decision and can happen in lots of different ways, depending on the person and the options available to them. 

Pronouns

The words we use to refer to someone (like, ‘he’, ‘she’ and ‘they’) might not always be appropriate. If you’re not sure what to call someone, just ask. If you make a mistake, say you’re sorry and try to use the right words from then on.

There are lots of other terms that people use when talking about gender. Someone’s gender identity is very personal so a lot of people will use different terms or labels. Some examples are listed below.

Trans/Transgender

Someone whose gender identity or gender expression is different from the gender they were assigned at birth.

Cisgender

Someone whose gender identity or gender expression matches the gender they were assigned at birth.

Transsexual

A term that’s less common these days, mainly used by doctors to refer to someone who has had surgery as part of their transition.

Non-binary/genderqueer

Someone who doesn’t feel they’re either a boy or a girl. They might feel a combination of the two, or, at times, one or the other.

When to ask for help

If your mood is being affected by strong and distressing thoughts, or you’re experiencing isolation and possible bullying, then counselling might be helpful.

The ‘Local Offer’ in your area will have contact details of local counselling services and youth support.

If after receiving counselling, your mood hasn’t improved, ask your GP or school to refer you to ‘Child and adolescent mental health services’ (CAMHS). If you are over 16, you can go onto the Berkshire Healthcare website and refer yourself.

Let an adult that you can trust know how you’re feeling. It’s important not to be alone on this very brave journey.

If you have transitioning questions and need help to get a referral to a gender clinic, ask a parent, teacher or GP to refer you to CAMHS for initial assessment. They can then make a referral to a specialist service. Again, if you’re over 16, you can refer yourself to CAMHS.

Self help and other support

You can find additional support online by visiting:

Terms

There are lots of other terms that people use when talking about gender. Someone’s gender identity is very personal so a lot of people will use different terms or labels. Some examples are listed below.

Trans/Transgender

Someone whose gender identity or gender expression is different from the gender they were assigned at birth.

Cisgender

Someone whose gender identity or gender expression matches the gender they were assigned at birth.

Transsexual

A term that’s less common these days, mainly used by doctors to refer to someone who has had surgery as part of their transition.

Non-binary/genderqueer

Someone who doesn’t feel they’re either a boy or a girl. They might feel a combination of the two, or, at times, one or the other.

Last Updated: 13/12/2018
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