Friday, 14 May 2021

Learn to be your true self and embrace your gender identity

Take a moment to think about your gender. How would you describe your gender identity? How do you express your gender to other people through how you look or act? How comfortable do you feel with the way that you experience and express your gender?

These questions can help you begin to think about your gender identity and how you make sense of this part of yourself. It is natural to question your gender identity, and this can happen at any stage in your life. Maybe you have noticed that you feel uncomfortable when someone uses a particular gender pronoun, like ‘she’ or ‘her’, or that you feel out of place wearing gender-specific clothes at work. Learning more about gender identity can help you understand yourself and figure out how to show your authentic self, which is important for your emotional and mental wellbeing.

Tips for exploring your gender identity

Understand different gender identities

Many people assume that our gender identities match the gender we were given at birth, but this isn’t always the case. In some cases, people feel differently from their given gender. For example, when a person identifies as transgender, this means that their gender identity doesn’t match the gender that was assumed when they were born. 

Another common assumption about gender is that only two gender identities exist – male and female. However, there are actually many different gender identities that exist outside of these terms. Non-binary is a term people use to describe genders that don’t fall into the categories of male or female. Some people might also describe their gender identity as ‘gender fluid’ which means that they feel as though their gender is not fixed and varies over time.

A rising number of celebrities are publicly embracing fluidity and challenging gender norms. For example, actor Elliot Page recently came out as transgender. Singer Miley Cyrus and model Cara Delevingne identify as gender fluid. The pop star Sam Smith came out as non-binary and changed their pronouns to ‘they/them’ and musician Grimes identifies as gender neutral. Note: All of these people explore and express themselves in different ways within their chosen gender identity – there are no rules as to how you must look or act if you identify as non-binary, gender fluid, or transgender. These are just a few examples of ways that other people explore and express their gender identities. It can be helpful to look at the many different terms that describe gender identity and see which fit best for you. You might prefer not to use labels which is completely fine – this is personal to you and how you feel.

Experiment with the way you express your gender

There are lots of different ways that you can choose to express your gender identity. This includes your appearance and the way you behave. Some people have the same gender expression all the time, while others may change their expression over time or circumstances. For instance, we might express our gender differently when at work with colleagues, out with friends or at home by ourselves.

You can play around with the way that you express your gender by, for example, thinking about which gender pronouns and names feel most comfortable for you and what sorts of clothes and accessories you feel reflect your gender. It’s okay to try out different things and then change your mind if this doesn’t feel right. Everyone has different ways of expressing their gender and only you can know what feels like the right expression for you!

Find your support network

Surrounding yourself with people who love and care about you is really important for feeling supported and understood. Think about people in your life who you can trust and turn to for non-judgemental support. It might feel anxiety-provoking to open up to others, but they are there to support you. Family and friends are a great place to start, and you can also think about seeking out people in the LGBTQIA+ community who might know what you’re going through. Look for resources online where you can get advice, discover role models, and become part of a supportive community. This is a good way to remind yourself that you’re not alone and that there are other people out there who share your experience. Remember to be careful when navigating the comments sections on websites or profiles discussing gender identity issues as some people might leave comments which could be distressing.

Seek professional support

If you are struggling with your gender identity, it can be helpful to speak about how you’re feeling to a professional. Your GP can suggest some options to give you more support. Talking to a trained therapist might also be a good way to make sense of how you’re feeling in a confidential and non-judgemental environment.

Take your time to explore

Finally, the best thing you can do is to take your time and give yourself room to explore your gender identity and expression. Remember to be kind to yourself in the process!

To find out more about gender identity, why not book a place on our free webinar taking place on Friday 21 May 2021 at 12 noon BST. 

For more information about gender identity sign up to our webinar 'Understanding And Exploring Your Gender Identity' taking place on Friday 21 May 2021. 

Sylvie Kay works as an Applied Psychology Practitioner at First Psychology Edinburgh. She will be presenting the webinar 'Understanding And Exploring Your Gender Identity'

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