What is gender? Why doesn't mine feel right?
In most places, we tend to categorise the people around us into different genders, deciding whether people are male or female, boys or girls. But it's important to realise that for many people these categories do not always work. A person may feel like the label they are given isn't the one that suits them best, or that neither category is able to describe their gender identity. Just as people should be able to decide for themselves what sexuality they have, they should also be able to determine their own gender identity or decide that they would prefer not to define it at all.
This may seem like a new and strange idea if you're used to thinking of gender as something that you are born with. To understand it better it can help to differentiate between 'sex' and 'gender'. 'Sex' is used to describe the physical body that you are born with, whereas 'gender' describes how you identify, whether you consider yourself to be male or female or something else. For a lot of people, their sex and gender will be the same (for example if they have a body that's physically female and identify as a girl), but for others, their gender identity is different from their sex, and that's ok.
If you're struggling to understand your gender, it can be a good idea to find someone that you can talk to about it. You might start with a close friend, read about it online or find an organisation that could support you.
How do people decide whether or not to come out? What's the best way to do it?
It's a personal decision to come out or talk to someone about your sexuality. When deciding whether or not to come out, it can be good to compare the pros and cons of telling people against the pros and cons of keeping it to yourself.
For some people exploring their sexuality can be stressful, talking about it might be a way of getting support. Other people may feel that keeping a secret puts pressure on them. They might decide that talking about it is a way of being more open. It's a personal decision, that only you can make.
Coming out is rarely a one-off event. You may find that you do it again with different people and at different points in your life.
If you're worried about how someone will react, you could test them by telling them other information that's less important to you. If they respond sensitively to this and prove that they can keep your trust, then you might decide to go ahead and tell them about your sexuality as well.
Choose your timing. Avoid coming out when you are arguing or angry. If you think that you will find coming out face to face hard, you could also send a text or write a letter.
Think through how the person you are telling might react. If you think they'll have questions, you could plan your answers in advance. People don't always understand what it means to have different sexuality and they may have some wrong ideas about it. Finding resources online that you can show them might help them understand.
Remember it can take time to process. Let them know that you are happy to keep talking about it and try to be patient with them if they don't respond how you would have liked at first. People's first reactions won't always reflect how they feel about it later.
If you'd like more support with coming out see if there are any organisations or people in your area that can help you.