What is Gender Identity?
Some people identify with the gender they were assigned at birth and others don’t. If someone does not identify with their assigned gender that is perfectly okay. Gender identity is how one feels about oneself and which gender one identifies with. It is common to hear that there are only two genders, but this is, and has been changing over time. We learn new things about ourselves and through research every day. It is important to consider and respect someone who may identify differently than you or others.
What is Gender Dysmorphia?
Gender dysmorphia is a term that is used to describe when one does not feel happy and/or comfortable in their body and feels as if their physical appearance does not match their gender identity. One may be diagnosed with this in order to medically transition to their desired gender.
How Does Gender Identity Develop?
Gender identity can be developed at any age and at any pace. Some may develop gender identity earlier on, and others may realize it later on in their lives. Here is what is commonly expected at each age range:
- 2 – 3 years old
- Children become aware of the physical difference between girls and boys.
- They can identify themselves as a “girl” or a “boy”, even if it does not match their assigned gender at birth.
- 4 – 5 years old
- They become more aware of gender stereotypes. For example, they may think that the colour pink is only for girls and the colour blue is only for boys.
- Some children may go to stages in which they will strongly express their gender identity.
- 6 – 7 years old
- They may feel confident that others see them as the gender they identify and was born into.
- Those who identify as a gender they were not assigned at birth may feel social anxiety because they want to be the same as those around them but may not feel the same.
- 8 years old and older
- Most will continue to identify with the same gender that they were assigned at birth.
- They will become more aware of their gender identity.
- Some will question their gender identity.
- As puberty begins, some will realize that they do not identify as the same gender that they were assigned at birth.
Not all of these can happen during one’s life or may happen at different times, but these are common at each age range.
How Can One Express Their Gender Identity?
Gender expression and gender identity are two completely different things! How one chooses to express themselves does not always relate to how they identify. It is important to not assume their gender identity based on how they express themselves.
In some cases, one can express their gender identity by:
- Their clothing
- Their hairstyle
- Their choice of games and sports
- Their preferred name or nickname
Commonly Heard Gender Identity Terms
Cisgender: A term used for someone who identifies with the gender that they have been
assigned at birth.
Gender Fluid: A term used for someone whose gender identity changes over time.
Gender Neutral: A term used for someone who does not identify as a male, female, or any other
Genderqueer: A term used to describe someone who does not identify as male or female, is
between or beyond genders, or may identify as more than one gender.
Non-Binary: A term used for someone who does not identify as male or female.
Transgender: A term used to describe those whose gender identity is not the gender that was
assigned at birth.
Things to Remember
- Everyone, no matter what their gender identity or gender expression is, is equal.
- There are more than two genders.
- NEVER assume someone’s gender identity and pronouns.
- It is okay to be confused about one’s gender identity.
- Respect everyone’s gender identity.
- Revealing one’s gender identity may be difficult already, do not make it much harder for one to feel comfortable expressing their gender.