Gender identity

Approximately 1% of the population are living with gender dysphoria, where a mismatch between biological sex and gender identity causes discomfort and distress.

Some people feel uncomfortable with the gender they were assigned at birth whilst others are unhappy with the gender role that society requires. Gender is a spectrum, and you may identify as male, female, gender-fluid or non binary, as both male and female, or your gender identity may change depending on how you feel.

Feeling different from the majority can be very hard, and gender dysphoria can be a difficult and distressing experience, but help is available. If you're worried or anxious about your gender identity, speak to an adult you trust – you'll find advice on who to talk to in our section on starting conversations. Your school nurse or doctor can put you in touch with a counsellor, and if it's appropriate, they can also refer you to CAMHS and/or the Gender Identity Development Service. You'll find more information about other organisations that can offer support below too.

This video from the NHS tells Ruth's story about being a trans woman, and the support she has received:

About the Gender Identity Development Service

The Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) is a highly specialised NHS service for young people facing difficulties with their gender identity. The services helps young people to explore their feelings and choose the path that best suits their ideals.

If you are referred to the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS), the team there will talk to you about the nature of your gender identity and how you feel, and if it's applicable, about your wishes for physical intervention. At the end of the assessment, they may then make a referral to endocrinologists (hormone doctors) for physical intervention, or recommend further therapeutic exploration first.

There are a number of possible steps the service can then take with you, depending on what you feel will work for you. You may be prescribed hormone blockers, which can give you time to explore your developing gender identity before making decisions about irreversible forms of treatment. If you are over the age of 16 and have been taking hormone blockers for at least a year, you may then be prescribed 'cross-sex hormones' (that is, oestrogen or testosterone).

More information

The following organisations can help if you would like further support and advice about gender dysphoria:

Gender Identity Development Service - specialist advice and support for young people
gids.nhs.uk/young-people

Mermaids charity - passionate about supporting children, young people, and their families to achieve a happier life in the face of great adversity
www.mermaidsuk.org.uk
Helpline: 0808 801 0400 (Monday - Friday; 9am - 9pm)

Gender Identity Research & Education Society - charity committed to improving the environment in which gender non-conforming people live
www.gires.org.uk