Our top tips!
- Take your time
Understanding who you really are takes time and is not always a straightforward process. Don’t rush trying to understand who you are and take the time that you need.
- It OK not to know
This is complex. It is OK to feel like you don’t really know who you are yet. As you grow and develop, things will start to fall into place the more that you learn about yourself.
- Don’t force yourself
Never feel like you have to put a label on yourself or force yourself to fit anyone else’s assumptions. Whilst you are still trying to understand more about your sexuality, don’t force any labels on yourself.
What does it mean to be transgender?
Being Transgender means that your Gender Identity is different to the biological sex that was assigned to you at birth. Your sex is defined by biology, and is usually determined by physical aspects such as reproductive organs. Gender identity is an internal understanding and recognition of the sense of being a man or woman. For some people, being transgender means that you would conform with the opposite sex, however for others it may be more complex that this, for example individuals who are non-binary or gender fluid.
There are many different labels which individuals who are in the transgender community may use to describe who they are. These may include transgender, transsexual, non-binary, non-confirming or gender fluid. There are other examples as well.
For people who are transgender, understanding and coming to terms with this can be very difficult. It can feel very uncomfortable for individuals when they realise that their gender identity and sex don’t match. If you feel that you may be transgender, it is really important to take the time that you need to come to understand how you feel, and make sure that you reach out to someone.
How do I know if I am transgender?
There are lots of different things that might trigger a person to realise that their gender identity and sex don’t match, and that they may be transgender. This can be very distressing for some, but over time things will start to make more sense and individuals will start to feel more comfortable as they begin to accept who they really are. Some signs include:
- Feeling uncomfortable being referred to as their sex (i.e. boy or girl)
- Getting distressed if people use the wrong pronouns to describe you
- Feeling uncomfortable and that you don’t belong in your body.
- Feeling uncomfortable during puberty as sexual organs begin to develop (gender dysmorphia)
Understanding pronouns is really important. If you know someone who is transgender, always use the correct pronouns.
So I think I'm trans... what now?
Expressing how you feel
It is really important to be able to express yourself in way that really makes you feel comfortable. Part of this is understanding which pronouns you would like to use to describe yourself. Some transgender people like to stay more neutral and use they/them. Other transgender people like to use pronouns matching their gender identity such as he/him.
Different people will realise details of who they are in many different ways and at different times in their lives. Some people start to understand their gender identity based on feelings of attraction towards particular people, and other people may find out through personal experiences that they have. Everyone is individual and there is no ‘right way’ to find out.
Feeling comfortable about your gender identity is an important step. Quite often, when people start to realise that they are transgender, they may feel uncomfortable and that they are not ‘normal’. This is not the case, and everyone in this situation should try to understand their feelings in order to feel more comfortable.
Sharing how you feel
Once you feel comfortable, you can share how you feel. This is known as coming out. Sharing how you feel opens up opportunities for you to be able to live your life successfully, whilst expressing your gender identity. There is nothing wrong with coming out, sharing information and realising you may not be transgender later. These experiences help us to understand.
Coming out can feel like a daunting task. It is true what people say: coming out is not a one-time task, and you are likely to find yourself coming out many times throughout your life. Coming out should not be as scary as it seems. Here are some top tips to help you out:
- Take your time – Do not rush to come out. Wait until you feel comfortable and able to do it. It is a good idea to wait and come out when you really want to.
- Confide in someone you trust first – Coming out does not mean that you have to tell everybody straight away. Find somebody that you trust – whether it is a family member or a friend – and tell them how you are feeling
- Be prepared – There might be some people that don’t like the news or need some time to come to terms with it. Don’t worry about this. Some people may need a little time, and you may need to prepare yourself for this.
I think I might need some help... what do I do?
If you need help with any aspect of understanding your gender identify, from trying to understand your identity, to coming out and beyond, you may want to talk to someone to get some extra support.
Speak to us
You don’t need to suffer in silence. If you are struggling with understanding your gender identity and just want somebody to talk to, reach out to our friendly mentors who can help you out. We can also help if you are struggling with coming out, or experiencing bullying.
Speak to somebody you trust
Depending on how you are feeling, it is really important that you talk to somebody you can trust. This can be hard if you haven’t come out yet, but really important to find someone you can trust if you need it.
Use online forums
As long as you are being safe online, there are plenty of communities online with other LGBTQ+ people who are trying to understand their sexuality or gender identity and want to support each other. If you are really struggling, read or reach out to these forums to find out about the experiences of others in similar situations.
What if I get bullied?
The world has become much more accepting of the LGBTQ+ community, but there is still quite a way to go before all of these negative thoughts have complete gone away. The fear of being bullied should not stop you coming out – you should always feel like you can be yourself and not have to hide part of who you are.
It can be hard to come out when you are scared, so it’s important to know what to do. If you are being bullied because of your sexuality:
- Make sure that you talk to somebody that you trust, like a school teacher, your parents or a friend to let them know what is going on.
- Join a community of other individuals who might be being bullied because of their gender identity so that you can support each other.
- Avoid any people who are bullying you as best as you can.
- Always be yourself, regardless of any bullies and how hard it may seem.
Make sure you are there for them
Don't make too much of a fuss about it
Now that your friend has come out, they are probably feeling a huge weight has been lifted off their shoulders. It’s great to acknowledge that they have told you but try not to make too much of a fuss.
Always respect their privacy when they come out
If your friend has come out to you, you should assume that they have only come out to you. Respect their privacy and don’t share this with anyone else. Sharing this could knock your friend’s confidence in coming out further.
Help build their confidence if they need it
It takes a lot of confidence to come out to one person and it takes a lot more to come out to everyone else. If you are the first person that your friend has told, help boost their confidence to help them come out to others.
My friend just told me that they are transgender
If your friend has just come out to you, it is really important that you carry on being there for them. Here are some things to consider.