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Gender Identity (T+)

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What is Gender?

When people think of “gender”, they often think about body parts, clothes or how a person looks and acts. But we also have a gender identity. This is the gender that we identify with, the gender that we know ourselves to be and it is part of our internal sense of self.

Our gender identity can be very important to who we are as a person. Some people are men, some people are women, some people are non-binary (which means they identify as neither 100% a man nor 100% a woman). You can describe your gender however feels most comfortable to you. A trans person is someone whose gender is different to the one they were assigned at birth.

Your gender is not determined by your body parts. People come in many different shapes and sizes. Imagine you woke up one day in a different body. Would anything change on the inside? No! You would be the same person you were before, with the same sense of your own gender.

Your gender identity doesn’t mean you have to wear certain clothes or look a certain way either. Some men are very feminine. Some women are very masculine. Everyone is unique and has their own style and presentation. This is called gender expression. You don’t have to fit a stereotype of what you think a man or a woman should look like.

You can’t tell another person’s gender just by looking at them. The only person who can really know your gender is you.

Your gender identity is about who you are, your sense of self; your sexuality/sexual orientation is about who you are attracted to. The Genderbread Person is a useful tool to help you explore who you are:

Figuring Out Your Gender Identity

From the moment we are born, most of us are treated like (and told) we are either a girl or a boy. This is called gender assignment. This can make things difficult to figure out when our gender identity doesn’t match the gender we were assigned or given.

The only person who knows how it feels to be you, is you. You could ask yourself questions like, “Do I feel comfortable with the gender I was assigned at birth? Would I be happier if people referred to me as a different gender? Does being a boy/girl feel right to me?”

For some people, the answer seems clear and obvious from an early age; for others, the answer takes much longer to arrive at. Don’t worry if you don’t have clear answers to these questions. There is nothing wrong with questioning or being unsure about your gender, and you can take all the time you need to figure out what feels right for you.

That’s fine! It’s ok to change your mind. Sometimes it takes some exploring before you discover what fits best for you.

You’re never too young to be yourself. We usually become aware of our gender around the age of three or four years old. Remember, if you think you are trans, there is no checklist of things that you must do. You might want to do simple things like change the clothes you wear or ask people to use different pronouns such as he, she or they. There is no age limit for doing these things.

Some people are trans. Some people are non-binary. Some people are cis. All are part of beautiful human variation and diversity. People differ from each other in all kinds of ways and gender is no exception.

Approximately 1% of the population is trans. In the UK that would make over 600,000 trans and non-binary people. That’s about the same percentage as people who have red hair – it might not be all that common, but it’s totally natural!

Being trans is not an illness. Trans people can live happy and healthy lives just like anyone else. Some trans people might experience gender dysphoria. This is a feeling of discomfort associated with the gender they were assigned at birth. Some trans people will transition (make certain changes to their lives, such as changing their name or parts of their body) to make themselves feel more comfortable. This is not an illness, but just part of becoming who we are.


Words people may use to describe their gender identity

We have put together some of the words people may use to describe their gender identity. You should not feel under any pressure to assign yourself a “label”.

There are other ways people describe their gender identity that are not on the list, and the language we have to describe gender continues to grow and evolve.

Let us know via the form below if your identity is missing or you can’t find a word to describe your feelings.

 


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