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 genderThere 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!