What you can do

Gender identity

Your gender identity is a way to describe how you feel about your gender. You might identify your gender as a boy or a girl or something different. This is different from your sex, which is related to your physical body and biology. People are assigned a gender identity at birth based on their sex.

Some interesting things to think about:

  • Everyone has a gender identity and expresses their gender in a unique and personal way. This could be through the clothes you wear, the way you stand, the interests you have.
  • Someone else can’t tell you what your gender identity is – only you know how you feel and you should never feel pressured to label yourself or fit in with other people’s ideas.
  • Some people know from a young age that their gender identity doesn’t feel the same as what they were assigned at birth, and some people may take a while to work out their gender identity. This is completely fine, everyone is unique.

When talking about gender there can be a lot of words and phrases used that you might not have heard before. We’ve listed some below, but you may hear more:

  • Gender expression – this is the way that you express your gender! For example, if you identify as a girl you might want to dress in a certain way or read certain books. A lot of people might not be aware of their gender expression, as it’s a natural way that we express ourselves.
  • Gender dysphoria – this is when someone feels uncomfortable about the gender they were assigned and who they really are. For example, if someone was assigned as a boy at birth and grew up feeling that this wasn’t right, they may have gender dysphoria. There is help and support available for people who experience this.
  • Transition/transitioning – if someone feels uncomfortable about their gender identity they may choose to transition. This is a very personal decision and can happen in lots of different ways, depending on the person and the options available to them. 
  • Pronouns – the words we use to refer to someone like, ‘he’, ‘she’ and ‘they’. If you’re not sure what to call someone, just ask. If you make a mistake then say you’re sorry and try to use the right words from then on.

There are lots of other terms that people use when talking about gender. Of course, someone’s gender identity is very personal, so a lot of people will use different terms or labels. Some examples are listed below.

  • Trans/Transgender – someone whose gender identity or gender expression is different from the gender that they were assigned at birth.
  • Cisgender – someone whose gender identity or gender expression matches the gender they were assigned at birth.
  • Transsexual – a term that is less common these days, mainly used by doctors to refer to someone who has had surgery as part of their transition.
  • Non-binary/genderqueer – someone who doesn’t feel that they are either a boy or a girl. They might feel a combination of the two or at times, one or the other.

For further information please call Stonewall's Information Service on 08000 502020, tweet to @StonewallUKInfo or email info@stonewall.org.uk