Gender Identity in the News, by Scott Williams
Since the term “gender identity theory” has been bouncing about in the news lately, we thought it might be a good time to blog about it!
Every person has a gender identity. A person might know themselves to be male/masculine, female/feminine, somewhere in between, both, or neither at all. Sometimes, a person’s gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth, and sometimes it doesn’t. A person is usually aware of their own gender identity by age three.
Here are some definitions:
“Biological Sex” refers to anatomy – a person’s reproductive system, and secondary sex characteristics (breasts, body hair, enlarged Adam’s apple, etc.).
“Gender identity” refers to each person’s internal and individual experience of gender. It is a person’s sense of being a woman, a man, both, neither, or anywhere along the gender spectrum. As noted above, a person’s gender identity may be the same as or different from their birth-assigned sex. – Ontario Human Rights Commission
“Gender Expression” refers to how a person publicly expresses or presents their gender. This can include behaviour and outward appearance such as dress, hair, make-up, body language, and voice. A person’s chosen name and pronoun are also common ways of expressing gender. Others perceive a person’s gender through these attributes. – Ontario Human Rights Commission
“Cisgender (or “cis”)” is the opposite of transgender. It is an umbrella term referring to people whose own gender identity and gender expression match the sex (male/female) assigned to them at birth.
The helpful people at Trans Student Educational Resources have created The Gender Unicorn to help explain these terms. You can click on the image below to visit their website and use the interactive form.
Here at KW Counselling Services, we know that this is not a “theory”. We’ve worked with hundreds of transgender and gender non-binary people over the years. You exist! We know it. You know it.
When you hear someone say that:
It’s understandably frightening, and confusing. The Ontario Progressive Conservative Party recently passed “Policy Resolution R4”. What that means, is that they are agreeing to debate this topic in about a year’s time. Now, shortly after this news was made, Premier Ford said he wouldn’t move forward with the motion. We will have to wait to see whether they will or will not debate this issue but, in the meantime, everyone should know that KW Counselling Services is a safe place for people of all gender identities. Our OK2BME staff are here to help you with counselling, to connect you with friends through our youth groups, and to educate the community on LGBTQ2+ issues.
A simple search in the Google machine will bring up thousands of scholarly articles in which some very clever people explain the work they have done around gender identity, and gender expression. Trans and gender non-binary people are not controversial. Trans and non-binary people matter! We see you and we are proud to work with you and support you. Our counselling services for LGBTQ2+ people aged 5-29 are FREE for those living in Waterloo Region. Give us a call to get started!
Here are some helpful resources we recommend:
- Rainbow Health Ontario Gender Independent Children Fact Sheet
- Human Rights Code R.S.O. c. H19. Ontario Government.
- World Professional Association for Transgender Health (2011). Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender Nonconforming People.
- American Psychological Association. (2015). Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming People. American Psychologist, 70 (9), 832-864. doi: 10.1037/a0039906
- Baurer, G, et al, Who are the Trans people in Ontario?
- You can also check out and share this great Trans 101 – The Basics Video made by awesome folks at Ygender