Understanding Gender Identity
Understanding gender identity is complex. We know that gender isn’t as simple as being male or female. In fact, if you draw a line with each of those polarities on either side, and you ask people in a group to mark a spot along the spectrum that feels right for them, the majority of people will end up somewhere in the middle. Increasingly, some people realize that they don’t fall anywhere on that spectrum, and they are working to identify an entirely different relationship with gender.
Wherever you land (or don’t) on the spectrum, you might have to reckon with your gender identity at some point, or many points, along the way. So many factors contribute to how we understand our gender identity. Race, class, dis/ability, sexual orientation, and age are some of the lenses through which we understand what gender means to others, which informs our sense of what our gender means to us. Because society accepts cis-gendered people more readily than trans people, those whose gender identity isn’t the same as their gender assigned at birth may have to grapple with these questions more publicly.
Understanding your gender identity is ultimately about understanding yourself.
However, being trans or going through a gender transition often means explaining yourself to the people in your life. Therefore, understanding your gender identity can also mean working to understand how society views you and what role that plays in your own self-acceptance. It’s a nuanced, subtle, multi-layered, and very personal experience.