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Confused about gender identity

Most young people grow up thinking of themselves as either a boy or a girl, and they don't question which they are (their gender). For some people, this is more complicated. They might not feel as though they can identify with being either male or female, or they may have a strong sense of being the ‘opposite’ gender to the one they were born with.

For young people experiencing this, puberty can be a very difficult time because our biological gender is physically marked by body changes, such as the growth of breasts or facial hair.

How can it affect you?

Teenagers who experience gender discomfort might feel unhappy, lonely or isolated from other teenagers.

They may feel social pressure from classmates, teachers and family to conform to gender stereotypes, or they may face bullying and harassment. Their discomfort about being male or female may affect their self-esteem and their performance at school. All of these difficulties can affect the person's health.

If you're experiencing any negative feelings or experiences such as these, you should seek help from people who will understand what you’re going through.

Does it make me gay, lesbian or bisexual?

Gender identity (how you feel about your gender) and sexuality (your sexual preferences) are not the same thing, but they are linked.

Sometimes, a young person comes out as lesbian or gay, but when they have a same-sex relationship they don't feel like it's a same-sex relationship because they are unsure of their gender.

If you’re uncomfortable with your gender identity, you might not be able to figure out who you are attracted to.

Who can I turn to for help?

If you're experiencing discomfort or uncertainty about your gender, the important thing is to talk to an adult you trust. Don't suffer in silence. Your parents may be much more supportive than you expect.

There are also several organisations who provide support to young people.

Local support

There are two active groups for LGBT+unsure young people in Wirral- you can contact them or visit them to find the one that suits you best:

Brook’s ‘Work it Out’ group

‘Work It Out’ is a support group by Brook Wirral, and is for any young person aged 14-18 who identifies as LGBTQ+ and unsure. It takes place every Thursday evening at 6.15pm-8.15pm at Brook. The group plays games and gets involved in projects, going on trips and having fun social time, whilst also providing a support network and safe place for those who attend.

Brook are allies of the LGBT community. The team believes that young people already go through enough hardship whilst developing into adulthood and for any young person to also have to deal with understanding or recognising their own identity in terms of gender or sexuality may add to further hardship.

For more information contact Julie-Anne or Kat on 0151 670 0177 or visit the website.

You can follow Brook on Twitter @merseybrook or find them on Facebook at Wirral Brook.

For more information about any of these groups, call Wirral Brook on 0151 670 0177.

or visit them at:

14 Whetstone Lane
Birkenhead
Wirral
CH41 2QR

New Horizons

Wallasey Youth Hub in partnership with Terrence Higgins Trust Provides a weekly support group for LGBT young people aged 13 to 19 who come together to share common experiences in a safe space, explore topical issues and take part in a range of youth activities and events. The support staff can also point young people towards further support if needed.

The group meets on Monday at 6.30pm – 8.30pm at Wallasey Youth Hub. You can just turn up and ask for the New Horizons group, call Katrina Maxwell on 07920 270 107, or check out the Wirral LGBT Network for more information.

The Hub was awarded the Navajo Charter Mark in 2014 for promoting equality in the area. The award recognises the Hub's work to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people.

National support:

Mermaids is a support group specifically for children and young people who are trying to cope with gender identity issues. You can call the Mermaids telephone helpline on 020 8123 4819 (open Mon-Sat, 3-7pm) for advice, information and help. There are also real stories on the Mermaids website about issues such as coming out.

Stonewall is a charity that works to empower all gay, lesbian, bi, and trans people, and reassure them that they are not alone.

The LGBT Foundation offers support, information and advice for trans people on coming out, parenting, bullying and more.

Coming out

If you decide to come out as a trans male or female, how and when you do it is your own personal decision. If a young person is supported by their family and friends and given an opportunity to talk about their feelings, the experience can be a very positive one. For more information on coming out as trans, you can visit the NHS website or contact Wirral Brook ‘Work It Out’ group or New Horizons –Wallasey Youth Group.

For more information, see the NHS Choices Transgender Health pages.

Source: NHS Choices