Gender refers to the socially constructed characteristics of female and male. It varies from society to society and can be changed. While most people are born either male or female, they are taught norms and behaviours – including how they should interact with others of the same or opposite sex within households, communities and workplaces. When individuals or groups do not ‘fit’ established gender norms they often face stigma, bullying and can become isolated, all of which adversely affect mental health.
Gender dysphoria is a condition where the child or young person experiences discomfort or distress because there's a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity. It's sometimes known as gender identity disorder (GID) or transgenderism. For example, some people may have the anatomy of a man, but identify themselves as a woman, while others may feel they're not definitively either male or female.
Young people who are experiencing gender dysphoria are much more likely to have mental health problems than other young people, are more likely to self-harm and are also more likely to be on the Autistic Spectrum.
Some young people identify as LGBT+, which stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, and the plus that is usually included after the acronym encompasses a list of other identities that fall under this umbrella. The "+" aims to include those who identify as queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, demisexual, non-binary, gender fluid, pansexual, polyamorous and many more.
Being LGBT+ can feel like an extra pressure for young people as their sexual orientation or gender identity may be different from many of their friends. LGBT+ children and young people often worry that those around them, at school and at home, will react negatively to who they are and often experience high levels of bullying in school. This can be very damaging and leave those children and young people feeling isolated and unable to access the support or information they need.