Everything you need to know about gender identity
Gender is something that goes way beyond just male or female. For many people the gender they identify with doesn’t match with the gender they were assumed to be at birth based on their physical and sexual characteristics. Check out our list below which looks at definitions of gender and gender identities, and find out what to do if you’re being harassed because of your gender or how you identify.
What is gender?
'Gender' refers to your sense of who you are as a guy, girl or something else, as opposed to what your physical characteristics, genes and hormones indicate. Identifying your gender can be more diverse than simply seeing yourself as ‘male’ or ‘female’, and people express their gender in different ways.
If you often find yourself asking ‘what gender am I?’
You're not alone if you feel as if you don’t fit your gender role and the stereotypes for your gender. Some people also feel that the sex of their body doesn’t fit right and that they would feel more comfortable as the opposite sex.
Take as long as you need to explore your gender identity
Many people identify with a gender that differs from their physical sex. Different ideas and feelings towards sex and gender are a natural part of human diversity.
Some helpful definitions relating to gender identity
Everyone’s definition of gender is different and unique to them. There are many different words and labels that people use to describe their sex or gender characteristics and identities. Here are some of the most common ones.
A word used to describe people whose gender agrees with their body sex or assigned sex. For example, someone who was assigned female at birth and sees themself as being a woman is a cisgender person.
Trans and gender diverse
A general word for people whose gender is different from their physical sex, including transgender people. For example, someone who was assigned male at birth but identifies as female, or, identifies with neither female or male.
A person whose gender identity or gender expression does not conform to that typically associated with their sex assigned at birth. To understand more about the experience of living as a young trans person, read Chase’s story.
Any gender identity that sits within, outside of, across or between the spectrum of the male and female gender binary. A non-binary person might identify as gender fluid, trans masculine, trans feminine, agender, bigender etc.
A person born with reproductive organs, hormone levels and/or sex chromosomes that aren’t exclusively male or female. There are many different states of being intersex, and they’re not always obvious on the outside or even diagnosed.
There are many other words and terms used to describe sex and gender diversity (too many to go into here). You can find out more about the diversity of sex and gender by visiting some of the LGBTQI support services and groups.
Dealing with bullying or discrimination based on your gender
If you’re harassed, judged or made to feel less than normal by someone else because of your gender, then you're being discriminated against. It’s important to remember that the other person is in the wrong, not you. If people choose to ignore or reject you based on your gender, then they’re missing out on all of who you are.
Don’t hang around if someone’s attitude towards you is abusive – leave as soon as possible and seek support from a trusted friend or family member. Seek outside support if you’re still finding it hard to cope.
Talking to someone your gender identity
In every state and territory in Australia, there are people who can listen to your concerns about gender, answer your questions and provide practical support. Find out about the various support services in your area.
It can be hard to know what’s the right support for you. ReachOut NextStep is an anonymous online tool that recommends relevant and available support options based on what you want help with.