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Gender Identity – for professionals

Gender identity is a way to describe how someone feels about their gender. For example, some people may identify as a boy or a girl, while others may find neither of these terms feel right for them, and identify as neither or somewhere in the middle. Although people often confuse them, gender identity is different from someone’s biological sex or assigned gender at birth and from sexuality or who someone’s attracted to.

Children and Young People who are struggling with their gender identity may be confused and unhappy and require the support of services.

Gender Dysphoria

Gender dysphoria is when someone experiences discomfort or distress because their gender identity is different from their biological sex. It can start from a very young age. This could include things like not wanting to wear masculine or feminine clothing for example. Older children may feel anxious or uncomfortable about the changes that happen during puberty, such as starting periods or things like voice deepening.

In 2018/19 Childline had 996 counselling sessions about gender dysphoria. Common themes for children contacting Childline with questions about their gender identity are anxiety about their feelings, the fear of not being accepted, the lack of available support and the time that it takes for them to access services.

Supporting Children and Young People – Useful Links and Resources

The following websites may be useful to you as sources of information if you are working with a child or young person questioning their gender identity.

How to support a child guidance from the NSPCC

Gender Identity Development Service (NHS)

GIDS Links to resources for schools

Gender Dysphoria NHS information page

Action for Children – guidance for professionals

Brook – Information about gender

Barnardos – information and training and development for professionals

Wirral LGBT Network Facebook Page


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