The Journey to Finding Your Gender Identity
If you are questioning your gender identity, then you are not alone. There is nothing wrong or strange about questioning gender identity, and thousands of people go through the same struggle as you are experiencing right now. An excellent starting point for you would be to look for as much information as you can.
Be prepared that some of it will be inaccurate or even negative, but other parts will be helpful. Do not stick to just one website; no matter how much you might like it or how comfortable you become with it, always consult other sites as well. You could also, if you are up for it, get into contact with a support group that can provide information and resources.
That being said, it is also vital that you do not do too much too quickly. Pace yourself and give yourself enough time and mental space to work through what you are facing and what you are learning along the way. Do not try to push yourself to go too far before you are ready. This is a journey.
Also, remember that gender identity and sexual orientation are very personal things, and just because you do not fit neatly into any box does not mean that you are a fraud. Also, do not be discouraged by your age. You are not wrong for starting to question your gender later than most others might. There is no wrong time or wrong way to do this.
Understanding the Gender Spectrum
And Where Your Place is on the Spectrum
If you are not entirely sure how to feel about gender and sex as a whole, you might begin by exploring the gender spectrum. It is pretty vast, too vast to include in this article entirely, although you can find a lot of information on it on this website.
For a long time, no one really questioned their sex assigned at birth, and the concept of gender was strictly binary. A person was either a man or a woman, and this was decided by the appearance of their physical body.
When you understand the spectrum a bit better, you might find it easier to explore possibilities related to your own gender identity and to make sense of how you are feeling. You will quickly learn that the idea of gender binary definitions is no longer accurate or particularly popular. This means that rigid ideas of "men" and "women" or "male" and "female" or even "girl" and "boy" are falling away.
Once people openly started to question sexuality and what they were attracted to in other people, the path became a little more open for the trans and non-binary community as well. It took us a long time to get to where we are today, where gender questioning is becoming more acceptable, and the idea of gender identity issues and the downfall of gender binaries are no longer such an alien concept, although it remains a very heated topic.
While society still uses language that is problematic many people are moving away from it. Our relationships with society, language, and pronouns are actively changing and evolving. We now have easy access to resources that can teach us about these important aspects of our own gender identity.
Gender Identities vs Sexual Orientation
Yes, There is a Difference
One essential thing that can be helpful to understand is that sexual identity and sexual orientation are not the same. Your gender or sexual identity refers to how you feel about yourself and your own gender.
Sexual orientation, on the other hand, refers to what you are attracted to in another person. So, for example, you can identify as transgender and pansexual at the same time. But this is only one example, and the combinations are nearly endless. An acceptable umbrella term used by LGBTQ+ people to describe themselves is queer.
The exploration of gender identity and orientation is most common in young people, but that does not mean that older individuals cannot question their gender or even decide to abandon their gender role. You can question your assigned gender at any point during your life. The world is only now really learning about the spectrums associated with gender, so it is not uncommon for older individuals to now realize that what they experienced in their youth, or are experiencing currently, is gender questioning.
Some popular sexual orientations are: bisexual, lesbian, or gay. Although these are popular, they are not exclusive. They are practical umbrella terms to look up, though. They can easily lead you to related topics that might be more suited to how you identify yourself.
Remember also that trans or transgender is also an umbrella term for a bunch of different gender identities. Researching these terms in more detail can help you to understand the relationship between transgender identity and pronouns and also how a transgender person can also be bisexual, lesbian, or gay.
Transgender also does not exclusively refer to someone who identifies as a "male" or "female" gender that is different from what they were assigned at birth; it can also refer to someone who identifies with neither or both of those extremes. These people are non-binary and can also be fluid.
And Their Place in Modern Society
Gender roles are socially constructed things that are usually associated with "male" or "female" characteristics and behavior. It is not uncommon for some cisgender heterosexual people even to feel out of touch with gender roles and to choose not to adhere to them. This does not automatically make them trans as well.
It is vital that you talk to your friends and family when you are ready. Questioning your gender can be stressful, and you need to have support from friends and family if at all possible. If you find that you cannot talk to them, you can try to find a person at school who you can talk to - someone like a counselor who would be familiar with gender questioning.
However, if you live in a conservative community, you might need to be careful as they can still expect people to adhere to assigned gender expectations and the associated roles. When someone is questioning their gender, this can be very stressful.
If you choose someone to talk to, be sure that they are safe. Talking to the wrong person in a conservative community can end up being dangerous. This is extremely sad because people should be able to express their gender without fear, but that is just not realistic at this time in some parts of the globe. Even in some parts of the US.
What Your Show the World
This is related to how you choose to express your gender and ties in with the previous section. There are no rules for how to do this within the LGBTQ+ community, and many complex ways to express gender and sexuality are recognized and accepted. But this does not change the fact that some people still live in fear to express their genders if it does not coincide with what they were assigned at birth.
During your journey, you will likely, eventually, develop a strong sense of where you are in terms of gender roles and gender identity. This will guide you to a better understanding of how to express yourself.
The most important part of expression is that you end up feeling comfortable with your current gender identity and that you do not feel pressured to express a certain gender that goes against your core sense of self. In an ideal reality, you would not be forced to adhere to genders that are contrary to how you feel inside.
Your physical sex characteristics and the way your body looks should not dictate who you are. But unfortunately, while we are talking about the real world that is still struggling to accept women as equals, we need to accept that we still have a long way to go.
Deciding on Hormone Replacement Therapy
Is it the Right Choice for Me?
Once you have addressed the question of your gender, the next step is to decide whether you want to transition or not. It is normal not to be entirely sure about this in the beginning. If you are gender fluid or you are not experiencing very high levels of gender dysphoria, you might decide that a social transition is enough for you. That is perfectly fine. Not all trans people use hormones or undergo surgery.
If that is something that you do want to do, then it is a good idea to try and attend some gender therapy. This way, you will be in contact with a professional who can give you information on transitioning and how this can affect your gender identity. You can also look up a site on the internet, preferably one where you can interact with someone live, where you can find reliable information. Just make sure that the site has a good reputation.
It is important to remember that while you are still in the process of gender questioning, a doctor will be hesitant to prescribe hormones. Some of the changes that trans and non-binary people experience due to sex hormones are irreversible, such as the deepening of a voice (in a trans man) or the development of breast tissue (in a trans woman). This means that doctors will need to know that you are certain about your gender identity before agreeing to start sex hormones.
They will not expect you to live as your gender assigned at birth though and will likely respect your pronouns, but if they are not sure that you are at the right place in your transition process, they will probably ask you to attend a support service or to engage in some more self-exploration before they will prescribe sex hormones.
Utilizing Support Groups
And Finding People Who Share Your Experiences
If gender therapy is not your thing, then you can also look for a support group where you can share your feelings with others, and they can help you to explore your personal sense of gender identity. You will also get into contact with other people who are questioning their gender. It can be very helpful to talk to someone who is experiencing or has experienced similar feelings.
These kinds of groups often share helpful information and are a great safe space for you to explore your identity, your sexuality, and your journey. People here can help you cope with feelings about your body, with issues experienced at school, and with talking to your friends about your gender identity.
If you feel like you should be a woman, you should not have to force yourself to live as a man just because certain parts of society have not caught up yet.