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We Are More Gender Fluid Than Ever Before

What does being genderfluid mean?

Gender fluidity is a non-fixed gender identity that can change over time, depending on certain situations. For example, someone who was born a female and has that gender on their birth certificate may feel in their life they identify as a male. They may feel their gender identity conflicts with their biological sex therefore they are only comfortable when in the gender role of their preferred sex (this may include non-binary). Being genderfluid means people prefer to change their looks or the way they behave. For example someone may feel a strong desire to hide physical signs of their biological sex, such as breasts or facial hair. Gender fluidity has become a lot more visible since celebrities such as Miley Cyrus and Sam Smith have openly expressed their feelings on this matter, which can give people the confidence to express themselves too. Gender fluidity enables someone to take their identity a day at a time, instead of feeling stuck to one gender label.

What's the difference between transgender and genderfluid?

While some people develop a gender identity early in childhood, others may identify with one gender at one time and then another gender later on. For example, a person who was designated female on their original birth certificate may identify as a girl until adolescence, then identify as a boy for the rest of their life. This person would be considered transgender, but not necessarily genderfluid. Anyone who identifies as genderfluid is genderfluid. Their internal sense of self may change frequently, therefore they express their gender in different ways frequently.

How does gender develop and change?

People usually start to develop their gender identity in their early childhood, such as the age group between two and three. Gender identity can stem from someone's environment, perhaps their family or their society in which they live. Their environment can have different norms and expectations on gender identity. For example, a child may grow up in a family where they believe gender is beyond being a boy or girl, so they feel freer to explore. On the other hand, someone may grow up in an environment where they are told 'girls should look like girls' and 'boys should look like boys' meaning they have less freedom to explore their gender.

How can gender identity affect mental health?

Every individual's experience of gender fluidity is different, with some people experiencing more struggles than perhaps another would. Young people especially may struggle with their mental health due to trying to figure out their identity, alongside the judgment they may feel from their peers. Here are some things genderfluid people may experience:

- Finding things confusing and worrying, as they are questioning their gender

- Feeling distressed when someone does not recognise their gender identity

- Struggling with body image- may feel their body does not match their gender

- Bullying and rejection from others

- Not feeling safe to express their gender identity in certain situation

How can you support genderfluid people?

Accepting people is a huge part of of the human experience, and it is so important to treat everyone with respect. It is especially important to listen to the youth who are perhaps having a harder time with figuring out their gender identity at a younger age. Here are some ways you can be supportive:

- Listening to people and making them feel they are validated regarding their experience with gender

- Be patient with youths; they may be struggling with their identity development

- Supporting people in their decisions about gender-affirming care, such as hormone therapy and surgeries

- Connecting them to support and resources so they can talk to people who share the same experiences

Where to get support

Useful helplines and websites:

- Mindline Trans+ (mental health support helpline) 0300 330 5468

- Switchboard 0300 330 0630

- Stonewall (Provides information and signposting for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people as well as parents/carers and schools) 08000502020

- Galop (A dedicated LGBTQ+ anti-violence charity) 0800 999 5428


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