Find out more about gender identity and sexuality...
At some point in our lives, we all find ourselves asking this. Questioning your identity can be confusing, upsetting or uncomfortable. But it’s ok to be unsure. No matter how you feel, you are wonderful just as you are! Click through to learn more about different identities.
All of this information has been drawn together with the help of young people.
These pages aim to help you to:
Everybody is made up of different interconnecting identities. Everything from your race, religion and class to the sports team you support and much more, fit together to make you you.
Many people will question their gender or sexual identity at some point in their life. But what are they and what is the difference? Click the arrow to find out more.
Gender identity is about how we personally experience our gender. When we’re born, a doctor will decide whether we are a boy or a girl based on the way our body looks- this is often called our biological sex. But sometimes the biological sex we are born with doesn’t match up with how we feel inside. Gender is about your own sense of self and who you feel you are inside.
Below are some terms that might be useful:
There are lot of misunderstandings around gender - as long as you feel comfortable in your own skin, that's all that matters!
Sexuality or sexual orientation is about who you fancy or feel attracted to. Some people will fancy people of the same gender as themselves, or another gender or more than one gender. Some people don’t feel attracted to anybody at all.
Some people will find it useful to give a label to how they’re feeling but others prefer not to.
Labels you might identify with are:
Remember that this list is just a few different labels. Sexuality isn’t a ‘one size fit’s all’ so don’t worry if none of the labels feel comfy for you.
Find out how others feel about their identity and how you can help yourself.
It is normal to question your identity. Everybody will experience gender and sexuality differently. Although labels such as “gay”, “lesbian”, “transgender” etc. are useful to some, sexuality and gender are all on a spectrum. This means there is no right way to experience your sexuality or gender identity.
No matter who you are attracted to or how you identify, you are deserving of love and acceptance.
Read Susie’s story to find out more:
I was 8 years old when I started to think that I was different. I felt so lost, like I didn’t know who I truly was. A few years later I confided in my friend Angie and she told me that she felt different too. When Angie shared her experience with me, I realised I wasn’t alone.
I went on the internet that night and googled how I was feeling and found even more people out there who felt the same as me. I couldn’t believe it! There were people all over the world who were going through the same thing. Maybe I wasn’t so different after all! The online support groups made me realise I wasn’t weird.
Through the friends I made online and Angie’s support, I finally felt confident enough to tell some of my friends how I was feeling. Although some of them were confused at first, they were very supportive and told me that they love me whatever my identity is.
I still don’t know how I feel all the time. Some days I still feel confused, but I keep a diary where I write the positive things about myself and I reflect back on this when I’m feeling down. I now know that it’s okay to not always be sure of my identity but no matter what, I deserve love and respect from everybody.
We have put together a few useful resources on how to cope when questioning your identity
You never have to share your identity with someone if you don’t want to. But sometimes hiding our true selves around the people we love can be hard. Reaching out to a friend can be a good way to find support.
“Coming out” can be scary even with the people you trust. This isn’t something you have to do. Some choose to come out to everyone, just a few people or to no one at all - it’s up to you.
If you do want to share how you’re feeling with someone, there are a few things to consider:
You can’t always control how people will react to you sharing your identity with them. It’s important you have a back-up plan if it doesn’t go as you’d hoped. This can mean making sure you have somewhere safe to go afterwards. No matter how it goes, your identity is still important, and you are still deserving of respect and love.
If you need urgent help at any point, please click on our “Help Now” button at the top right of the page for crisis service information.
Sometimes questioning your identity can feel lonely. But the chances are, lots of people feel the same way. Finding community can be a great way to get support and talk to people who understand what you’re going through.
Online forums and other online support can be good place to start. Some find it useful to talk to people who are separate from their day-to-day life
Remember to stay safe online – you should never share personal details like your address, full name or school online or any passwords.
You might also find support in your day-to-day today life. There might be a safe space at school for people who are questioning their identity like an LGBT club or a local support group or youth group outside of school.
You can find local services here:
Putting your thoughts down on paper is a good way to stop your thoughts from becoming overwhelming.
Try writing down some things that you like about yourself or a list of things you are good at/have achieved.
Here are some ideas of things you could write:
You can look back on your thoughts and reflect on how they change over time.
When you’re feeling low it’s really important to look after yourself.
Try doing something nice for yourself at least once a week. This could be something you’re good at or something that makes you feel relaxed. That might be:
Remember that its okay not to be okay all the time so treat yourself gently.
It’s never ok for someone to discriminate against you because of your identity. This can be described as bullying, homophobia, or transphobia.
Bullying covers lots of different things; it could be:
Accepting yourself can be tough if you have been bullied.
If you are being bullied or experiencing homophobia or transphobia, it’s important to tell someone you trust so that you can get support. Some types of bullying are illegal and it’s important that someone else can help you deal with this.
If you don’t feel like you have anyone to turn to, look up local support that is available in your area. You can also call Childline free on 0800 1111 to speak to someone.
Struggling with your identity is not a mental health condition in itself but experiencing isolation or bullying over a period of time can affect your mental health.
If you are feeling very low or anxious and you feel this way all the time or it is affecting your day to day life, it’s important to speak to your GP.
There are some services that can help you but it’s a good idea to speak to someone you trust first so that you have some support in your day to day life.
If you would like support around your sexuality or gender identity, Allsorts Youth Project is a good place to start.
To find mental health service near you, click here.