Gender identity refers to who you are and your sense of self. Our gender identity can be very important to who we are as a person. Someone’s gender identity might match or be different from their biological sex. Biological sex (chromosomes, gonads, hormones and genitals) are determined by someone’s genetic makeup- their chromosomes, whereas gender identity is someone’s own personal sense of gender and how they choose to express this regardless of biology/ physiology.
For some people, they know and feel certain about their gender whereas for others it may not be as clear.
What might it feel like if a young person is struggling with their gender identity?
Preferring to be by themselves and not spending as much time with family or friends. Not wanting to do things or interact with other people;
Feeling upset with the changes that happen to their body, particularly during puberty (such as having periods, body hair growth, voice changing);
Worrying about how to dress/ present themselves to others- Finding it hard and upsetting going clothes shopping;
Feeling uncomfortable using biological sex pronouns;
Feeling uncomfortable wearing gender-based school uniform;
Feeling uncomfortable using designated biological sex toilets;
Feeling upset and anxious about P.E. and having to get changed in front of others;
Worrying about what others might say or do if they found out;
Feeling hopeless and struggling to see a future;
Thoughts, urges or plans to harm themselves or some thoughts to end their life;
Problems with sleep (difficulties getting to or staying asleep, waking very early in the morning and not being able to get back to sleep);
Having low self-esteem and lacking in confidence;
Misusing substances such as drugs or alcohol;
Things that might help someone being bullied:
Not all young people will be certain about their gender identity. Let them know it’s ok not to be sure or to be curious. They don’t have to be certain or decide, they can take the time they need;
It’s important to remind young people that we’re all unique and there is only one them;
It can be helpful for you and your young person to be aware of the NHS Rainbow Badge Scheme. If you see someone who works in the NHS wearing a Rainbow NHS badge this means that they have completed specialist training in LGBTQ+ issues including supporting people who may be struggling with their sexuality and gender. It shows that the wearer is there to listen without judgement and to provide information and support if needed (please click onto the YouTube video below);
There is more information and support available from The Proud Trust website (see website section below);
There is more information and support available from Breakout Youth (Hampshire specific) website (see website section below);
There is more information and support available from Y Services (Hampshire Specific) website (see website section below);
There is specific information for LGBTQ+ Youth in Care website (see website section below);
There is more information and support available from Gendered Intelligence website (see website section below);
If a young person is in crisis they can call 116123 or text YM to 85258 (free to call or text 24hrs a day 7 days a week).
Seek advice, guidance and support from Young Minds Parent Helpline: 08088025544.