What does ‘gender identity’ mean?
Your gender identity is personal to you and is how you feel about yourself and how you view yourself.
Once we’re born, it is common for people to assume our gender based on our sex (which is determined by our genitals when we’re born). For example, if you’re born with a vagina, it is likely that people will automatically call you female and expect you to be ‘feminine’. Whereas if you’re born with a penis, it is likely that people will call you male and expect you to be ‘masculine’.
This suggests that gender is a social construct. A social construct means that it is a concept created by society.
Just because someone was born with a penis or vagina, that doesn’t mean they will behave in certain ways when they’re older. For example, someone could be born with a vagina but based on how they feel about themselves, they may identify as a male or they may not identify with a specific gender at all.
Also, some people are born with genitals that don’t easily fall into either category, which means that their gender cannot be assumed based on their sex.
What’s the difference between someone’s sex and their gender?
A person’s sex is determined by the genitals they were born with, whereas their gender is based on how they feel and think about themselves.
It is common to assume a person’s gender based on the genitals they were born with, which is why the terms ‘male’ and ‘female’ are commonly used to describe both sex and gender. This leads to people believing that someone’s sex and their gender are the same. However, just because someone was born with a penis, this doesn’t mean that they will feel and think of themselves as a male and a person born with a vagina may not feel like they are female. Therefore, someone’s sex is completely biological whereas their gender is down to their personal belief and feelings.
Why is it important to learn about gender identity?
It is important to learn about gender identify because it’s very common for people to make assumptions about others’ genders. This can lead to misunderstandings and judgements if someone identifies as a different gender from the one that people expect them to be.
Learning about gender identity can lead to people becoming more knowledgeable and understanding more about gender. It can also lead to people finding good information and support about gender if they need it.
Where can I get more information and support on gender identity?
There are a range of people and services that you can go to for information and support around gender identity.
Speaking to a trusted adult at school, such as your school nurse or a teacher is an option. Also, if you have a friend or family member that you feel comfortable going to for support then that could be another option for you.
If you would prefer not to speak to someone you know, then there are services available for you including the following websites, some of which also have helplines:
Switchboard helpline: 0300 330 0630
Helpline: 01708 765200
Helpline: 0800 1111