Gender Identity Expression
Puberty is a confusing time for teens. Hormones, cultural expectations, peer pressures, and fear of being different can cause many teens to question themselves in many areas, including their sexual orientation and gender identity.
Being a parent of a teenager who is confused, or questioning themselves can be hard. It can be hard to connect, understand and know what to do. That’s why we are here to help you understand what is going on, to give you information and resources to best be there for your teen.
Gender, biological sex and gender identity disorder
Many people think of gender as being male or female, is the same thing as a persons hormones, sex organs, and genes (biological sex). In fact, it is much, much, more complicated!
A person’s gender is determined by more than the anatomy they were born with.
What is gender? Gender is a concept that has two hands.
On one hand, it's the combination of a person's biological sex, the sense of who they are, and the choices they make about their behaviour and appearance. On the other hand, gender is a social subject that explores the traditional expectations society has about how people should look and act.
Biological sex: This refers to the physical characteristics a person is born with. Some people are born male, others are born female. Some people are born intersex, which means that their biology has both male and female characteristics.
Gender identity: This is how an individual personality thinks, feels, and sees themselves as either a man, woman, or other gender. Nobody can tell someone what their gender identity is.
Gender expression: This is the way a person presents themselves to society through their behaviours and appearance. A person's gender expression may not match a person's gender identity, and it can change depending on who their with.
Let's get real on gender stereotypes. Imma break it down for you.
Most societies expect teenagers to behave in a certain way, wear appropriate clothing, do certain things based on conventional ideas about what it means to be a woman or man- male or female.
Unfortunately, teenagers who do not conform to these expectations may encounter disapproval from society.
Everyone should feel able to be who they truly are, free from the constraints of gender stereotypes. Being open minded and thinking more broadly about gender allows everybody to express themselves as they truly are. Gender stereotypes regularly appear everywhere! In the media, by family, by society... it can lead a teenager to feel there are things they can't or shouldn't do.
Nobody should feel limited by social norms, regardless of whether they are male, female, neither or both!
For most people, Howe gender identity matches their biological sex.
However, for some, the sex they were assigned at birth may not correspond with how they identify or express themselves. Gender dysphoria refers to the emotional distress a person experiences if their body doesn't match their gender identity.
A person with gender dysphoria may feel very uncomfortable with the assumptions society makes about their gender identity based on their biological sex.
To match the way they feel inside, some people choose to change their name, their appearance. Or their anatomy to align with how they feel.
If your teen needs support:
• Puberty can be an upsetting time for a person with gender dysphoria. It's important to listen carefully and take your teens concerns seriously.
• Find resources, including books, websites, positive Instagram accounts, and people to help you learn more.
• Avoid pressuring your teen to behave differently. Remind them it's okay to act in a way that doesn't conform to traditional expectations.
Spectrum of genders:
Rather than just recognizing female and male, gender is thought of as a wide spectrum of identities. There are many ways for a person to describe how they identify their gender. There is a wide range of gender identities! This spectrum does not include all of them! But rather opens your mind to common gender identities.