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Understanding gender identity

Supporting staff and pupils to understand gender identity

Gender identity refers to a person’s understanding and experience of their own gender, it is their internal sense of self.  Everyone has a gender identity; for some people, it corresponds with the gender assigned at birth, and for some others, it does not.  Gender identities are expansive and do not need to be confined within one collectively agreed-upon term.

A child’s appearance may not inform you or their gender identity.  It is important to understand that one’s gender identity does not direct the way we are or the clothing we choose to wear.

Source: The Proud Trust – Gender identity

Transgender people may have the body of one gender but feel that they are the opposite gender, like they were born into the wrong type of body.   Transgender children are the highest victims of bullying.

A Female to Male (FtoM) person will have been assigned a female sex at birth yet identifies their gender as male; a Male to Female (MtoF) person will have been assigned as male at birth yet identify their gender as female.

The word transgender is sometimes used interchangeably with terms such as transsexual or gender-variant but usually has a narrower meaning and different connotations than gender variant, including non-identification with the gender assigned at birth.

Children who experience issues with their gender development, or are gender non-conforming, may or may not be transsexual, some will not retain their gender variance following puberty because this can be fluid.

Gender variant people may also use terms such as non-binary, genderqueer or genderfluid to identify themselves.17

Understanding gender identities is important.  If a child divulges their thoughts and feelings about their gender, being equipped with the knowledge will support them to continue to feel safe.  There are many resources online to support children with understanding their identity and a few a listed later.

This list of definitions of some gender identities, must be taken fluidly and is by no means an exhaustive list.  A child may feel their experience of themselves falls into one category, some may experience more than one and others may address their identity as a variation.

Image of different gender identities

The Human Rights Act 1998 support the rights and needs of transgender children to live their lives in their true gender.  With the Equality Act 2010 further protecting them.

Bullying, prejudice and racism (BPRI) resource 2022

Support, advice and resources