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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 of gender definitions and identifications, and find out what to do if you’re being harassed because of your gender or how you identify. Sex and gender are more complicated concepts than many people might think. First up, there’s a difference between the two; and secondly, many people find that 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 of gender definitions and identifications, and find out what to do if you’re being harassed because of your gender or how you identify.

This can help if:

  • you want to understand the difference between sex and gender
  • you don't feel like you identify with your current sex or gender
  • you're being harassed or discriminated against.
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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 your sex or gender doesn’t feel right

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

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

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.

Cisgender

A word used to describe people whose gender agrees with their body sex or assigned sex.

Trans

A general word for people whose gender is different from their physical sex, including transsexual and transgender people.

Transsexual

A person who identifies as the sex opposite of the one assigned at birth and who may choose to undergo sex affirmation surgeries.

Transgender

A general word used to describe a broad range of non-traditional gender identities or behaviours. Usually includes all trans people, but some transsexual or gender-diverse people choose not to identify with this term.

Gender diverse

Other gender-diverse people, some of whom also identify as transgender, have a gender identity that isn’t simply ‘man’ or ‘woman’; instead, they choose to identify with a range of gender characteristics that feel comfortable for them.

Intersex

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

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 about gender

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.

What can I do now?