What you should know about gender identity issues:
We live in a culture that attaches labels and expectations to gender identity. This can create confusion and distress for those who feel disconnected from the gender which they have been assigned at birth. In the US, we have made strides in our recognition and acceptance of LGBTQ+ individuals. Transgender individuals are making up a larger portion, with over 1.4 million individuals who have come out. That’s estimated to be about twice the number estimated just ten years ago.
While greater visibility is helpful in building a global community for transgender individuals, we know that there are challenges unique to these populations. Rejection of transgender people, particularly in childhood and adolescence, have serious mental health implications. Transgender teens who are rejected by their parents or caregivers are eight times more likely to attempt suicide, six times more likely to report clinically significant depression, and three times more likely to use illegal drugs. Working transgender adults fear discrimination or outright termination in the work place for living their authentic lives. Individuals and parents/caregivers alike can benefit from the tools and knowledge necessary to understand this community.*
Whether you or a loved one is struggling with questions about gender identity, education is the first step. Birmingham Maple Clinic is committed to offering a safe and affirming space for those interested in exploring concerns specific to transgender and gender non-conforming populations.
What the experts say: Gender Identity Issues:
Gender identity issues are defined by one’s persistent identification with a gender other than that which they were assigned at birth. Questioning one’s gender identity can manifest in dressing or behaving in a way that is typically associated with another gender as well as vocalizing desires to be the opposite (or a third) gender. True gender identity concerns are differentiated from experimentation by chronic distress an individual experiences. Signs of gender incongruence can begin in early childhood, though many people repress or conceal their identity until much later in life.
Common Questions about Gender Identity Issues:
- My young son seems to reject typical “boy things” in favor of toys and activities his sister enjoys. Could he be transgender?
- I have decided I’m ready to come out as transgender. How can I possibly tell my friends and family in a way that they will understand?
- I have been working with a physician who says I need to see a therapist before beginning any gender-affirming medical treatment. What should I look for in a therapist?
* Dr. Caitlin Ryan, The Family Acceptance Project, at San Francisco State University.