Gender Diversity For Individuals
Being gender diverse means different things to different people. A lot of people think that if someone is gender diverse they have to present themselves in a certain way (e.g. androgynous clothing). Some gender diverse people do not want to present themselves as either ‘male’ or ‘female, while others are happy to present themselves as what society sees as a binary gender. However this does not make them any ‘less’ gender diverse. For all the ways there are to explore gender, there is no one ‘right way’. You might find yourself gravitating towards a particular label or you might not. It might be about rejecting what feels inauthentic or embracing what is exciting. Perhaps it is about challenging how those around you see gender or maybe it is about challenging how you understand yourself. It is your path to navigate and how you express yourself is a personal choice.
That does not mean you have to do this alone. Many gender diverse people enjoy spending time within the gender diverse community. Many might need support from therapists, support groups and community centres, both online and offline. Some people experience gender diversity as a wonderful adventure filled with possibilities while for others it can feel difficult to find ways to express the complexity of their internal gender identity. This can be experienced as overwhelming and isolating. Being around other gender diverse people can help reinforce your identity and can support to better understand the unique ways that people explore, experience and express their gender identity.
Much of the mainstream media dialogue around the topic of gender diversity can be experienced as hostile and the idea of having to fight for each aspect of your identity with every person that you meet can feel exhausting. Society at large is still struggling to come to terms with the concept of gender being more than the binary of ‘male’ and ‘female’ and there is a belief that non-binary genders are a phase or not real. These are reasons why it can be important to find spaces where you can relax and have your gender identity and expression affirmed and validated. AGA offers many social support events as well as discussion groups. Seeking help and support from your community, both on and offline, will ensure you don’t feel isolated.
It is important to acknowledge that it takes time to figure things out and there is no rush to tell the people in your life. It is okay to explore one way of expressing yourself, and then explore something completely different! Many gender diverse folk find that their experience of gender and how they express it changes over time and sometimes even from day to day. You get to decide what labels you identify with, if any, and how you express your gender. This also includes who you tell, and when and where you express yourself. Your autonomy, comfort and happiness are what should shape your decisions.
- You do not need a label to express yourself, but if you find a label that works, claim it as your own – that is your right. Know that you can always choose a different label later if you want to. There is no right or wrong way to be you.
- Spending time around gender diverse communities might help affirm your own gender or just give you space to be yourself.
- It can help to have a clear idea of what you expect from other people in terms of respect, which can support you with what you are willing to budge on and what you are not. For example, you may be willing to withstand having incorrect pronouns used for you in the office, but not at home.
- Gender (both its experience and its expression) is not always fixed and for many people it is fluid, non-static, dynamic, and changeable. It is okay to change how you express yourself if, with new understanding or knowledge, this is something that you want to do.
- The way you express your gender does not have to relate to the way you experience gender unless you choose it to.