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Being Female, Male, Transgender or Fluid
Being Female, Male, Transgender or Fluid
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Being Female, Male, Transgender or Fluid
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Identity & Expression

Everyone has a gender identity—a feeling or sense of being male, female or somewhere in between. Gender expression can be a way to share your gender identity with the world through clothing, makeup, how you talk, act and more. A person’s gender identity and expression can be different, and who someone is attracted to—sexual orientation—is not related to gender identity and expression.

Additional Youth Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there more genders than “boy” and “girl”?

Yes, there are totally more than two genders! Some people are more than one gender, and some people don’t identify as any gender.

How can I tell a person’s gender?

It’s okay if you can’t identify a person’s gender when you first meet. It’s more important not to judge someone based on the gender that person uses to identify themselves.

We usually assume people’s gender identity based on how they look or dress, but some people’s gender identity may not match how they look or dress. In some situations, when you’re not sure how someone identifies, it’s okay to say, “I want to be respectful of how you identify, so could you tell me which pronoun you prefer I use?” This gives the person an opportunity to tell you their preferred pronoun (he, she or another word).

What should I do if I don’t feel like either a boy or girl, or if how I feel doesn’t match my body?

Lots of people have qualities that are associated with a different gender. If you feel like your gender identity does not fit neatly into a boy or girl category, that’s okay. You may choose to dress or style your hair in a way that matches how you feel. As you figure out what feels right for you, seek the support of a trusted adult or friend, who are often extremely helpful!

If you feel like your body does not match how you feel inside, then you should definitely talk to an adult you can trust. People who feel like their bodies do not match how they feel inside are called transgender or trans. You can get help figuring out how to have what you feel inside reflected on the outside with the help of trusted adults, like parents, counselors and doctors.

Helpful LInks and Websites

Parent Info

People express a sense of masculinity, femininity or something in between through their actions and daily choices about appearance. This is called “gender expression,” and it can be influenced by how someone feels inside, family expectations, society’s expectations and other influences. Gender expression can also change throughout people’s lives as they learn more about themselves and what masculinity and femininity mean to them.

Gender identity is the feeling someone has inside about being male, female or something in between. Everyone has a gender identity. Sometimes people’s gender identity matches their gender expression, and sometimes it does not. Sometimes people’s gender identity matches their bodies, and sometimes it does not. A person may be born with a boy’s body and feel like a boy or born with a girl’s body and feel like a girl. This is called “cisgender.” Or someone may be born with a boy’s body and feel like a girl or born with a girl’s body and feel like a boy. This is called “transgender.”

The term “genderqueer” is used to refer to anyone who identifies as neither male nor female, both male and female or a combination of different genders. “Genderfluid” is another identity that is similar to genderqueer. Some people experience their gender as fluid. This means they may feel like a mix of masculine and feminine qualities or feel more feminine sometimes and more masculine at other times. This is called gender fluidity, and it is not related to a person’s biological sex.

Gender identity and expression don’t tell us anything about who a person is attracted to. “Sexual orientation” refers to what genders we are attracted to.

With all this in mind, it’s best to remember everyone has the right to be respected no matter how they identify, look or dress.

Conversation Starters

There are lots of terms for gender identity, and it’s not important that your child memorize definitions. It is more important for children to understand that gender identity and expression are spectrums, and they don’t need to be afraid if they see someone different or if they feel different in terms of how they identify or express their gender. These conversation starters are a way to make sure your child feels comfortable asking questions and talking with you about these topics.

When you see people who challenge conventional ideas about gender identity and expression—like Prince (gender expression) or Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox, who identify as transgender—you could start a conversation with your child using some of the following:

Here are some simple conversation starters.

Do you think someone like Prince was teased for being both masculine and feminine?

It seems like it’s not easy when someone expresses their gender in a way that people don’t understand. What do you think?

Have you ever seen someone teased for being too much like a girl or too much like a boy? How did that make you feel? What did you do?

Talk about cultural differences

You can also talk with your children about cultural differences in terms of gender. A great way to start talking about these issues is learning about gender expression and how masculinity and femininity are defined in different cultures (e.g. Scottish kilts).

Educator Info

Through actions and daily choices about appearance, people express a sense of masculinity, femininity or something in between. This is called “gender expression,” and it can be influenced by how someone feels inside, family expectations, society’s expectations and other influences. Gender expression can also change throughout people’s lives as they learn more about themselves and what masculinity and femininity mean to them.

Gender identity is the feeling someone has inside about being male, female or something in between. Everyone has a gender identity. Sometimes people’s gender identity matches their gender expression, and sometimes it does not. Sometimes people’s gender identity matches their bodies, and sometimes it does not. A person may be born with a boy’s body and feel like a boy or born with a girl’s body and feel like a girl. This is called “cisgender.” Or someone may be born with a boy’s body and feel like a girl or born with a girl’s body and feel like a boy. This is called “transgender.”

The term “genderqueer” can be used to refer to anyone who identifies as neither male nor female, both male and female or a combination of different genders. Genderfluid is another identity that is similar to genderqueer. Some people experience their gender as fluid. This means a person may feel like a mix of masculine and feminine qualities or feel more feminine some times and more masculine at others. This is called gender fluidity, and it is not related to a person’s biological sex.

Gender identity and expression don’t tell us anything about who a person is attracted to. “Sexual orientation” refers to what genders we are attracted to.

With all this in mind, it’s best to remember everyone has the right to be respected no matter how they identify, look or dress.

Discussion Questions

After watching the video with your class, process it using the following discussion questions:

What are some ways the characters in the video express being masculine or feminine?

How might people express gender in not strictly feminine or masculine ways?

What are some ways other than through dress that people express gender?