Understanding Gender Identity

by | Sep 11, 2023 | LGBTQIA+ | 0 comments

Understanding gender identity.

What is Gender?

It is essential to understand that gender is not the same as a person’s anatomy and sex assigned at birth. Throughout history, language adopted synonymous meanings of sex and gender when referring to a person’s identity. However, unlike sex, gender is a social construct (masculine/feminine v. male/female anatomy) to help people categorize and make sense of the world (The TrevorProject, 2021). Social constructs create social norms and rules or expectations of how people live their lives. Social norms and rules have always changed throughout history, including norms and rules about gender. 

Today, with the help of historians, scientists, mental health leaders, community leaders, and community members, gender expression and identity are being redefined in society to represent people’s actual experiences in their minds and bodies.

Gender Identity

So let’s talk gender identity. Gender identity is a spectrum of expression – how you feel inside, how you present yourself, and how society sees you. Gender identities may fall under “cisgender” – your sex and gender align; “non-binary” – a person does not align with masculine or feminine genders. They don’t feel like one or the other. Or “transgender” – your gender does not match the sex assigned at birth. It is significant to note that not all non-binary folks identify as transgender (The TrevorProject, 2021).

Exploring gender identity is fundamental to understanding who you are.

Issues Associated with Gender Identity

Identifying as “non-binary” or “transgender”, and exploring gender, is not a mental health disorder; however, navigating society, harmful social norms, assigned genders, religion, etc. can create distress, and impairment leading to mental health disorders such as gender dysphoria and depression.

Gender Dysphoria and Depression

Gender Dysphoria is defined as clinically significant distress and impairment related to experiencing feelings related to a person’s sex and gender contradicting or conflicting. Experiencing gender dysphoria symptoms include, a distorted self-image, a strong dislike of personal anatomy, a strong desire for the physical sex characteristics that match one’s experienced gender, and a strong desire to be the other gender (DSM-5-TR, 2022). Markedly persistent gender dysphoria can lead to depression – feeling stuck, hopeless, helpless, irritable, and or sad.

Support for Gender Identity Issues

As a person experiencing gender dysphoria, depression, or anxiety there are community resources and support that you can access. The TrevorProject also has educational resources, safe social media spaces to build a community, and a 24/7 crisis hotline. Many providers such as doctors, counselors, and social workers are also trained and knowledgeable to support individuals and groups in exploring gender, providing resources, and alleviating clinically significant symptoms of mental health issues. 

Bridgeview Clinical Services offers support groups for adults and adolescents a part of the LGBTQIA+ community to explore topics such as gender identity, sexuality, relationships, depression, anxiety, and community. They also have trained staff that can support a person addressing these issues through individual and family counseling. 

If you’re interested in signing up for our support groups please email alyssa@bridgeviewcounseling.com. If you’d like to schedule an appointment or prefer to reach us by phone you can speak with Lauren or Samantha @ (630) 536-8073. 


Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-5-TR). American Psychiatric Association. 2022

The Trevor Project. (2021, August 23). Understanding Gender Identities | The TrevorProject. https://www.thetrevorproject.org/resources/article/understanding-gender-identities/


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