ABH Maryland

The Truth About Gender Identity


The Truth About Gender Identity

  • Mental Health

There can be some confusion around the ideas of gender, sex, and sexuality that can make some people feel uncomfortable. But as with anything, a little education goes a long way, and it’s no exception when it comes to gender.

Let’s begin by defining our terms. Do you know the difference between sex and gender? This distinction is the key to understanding gender identity.

A person’s sex is the physiological reality of their body. This term refers to our biology, including our reproductive organs, genetic makeup, and hormones.

On the other hand, gender is a socially-determined idea of what it means to be a man, woman, boy, or girl. It is an amalgamation of roles and behaviors that society deems appropriate for one gender but not another. These ideas change over time and vary from one culture to another.

From an outside perspective, these gender assumptions may seem arbitrary or transitory. Nevertheless, their influence is mighty, impacting all members of any given culture.

Understanding Gender, Sex, and Sexuality

A person’s gender identity is how they perceive themselves on a deep, personal level — male, female, or something else. This identity can match the sex assigned to them at birth, or it may not, and it may also change throughout an individual’s life.

Note that gender identity and sexual orientation are distinct and are independent concepts. 

Society has conditioned many to see gender as a binary between males and females. In this view, gender resembles a light switch that toggles between two and only two options.

However, it’s more helpful to think of gender as a slider with many different gender expressions other than male or female.

Here are some standard terms you might face when discussing gender: 

Transgender: This is a general term for a person whose gender differs from that assigned at birth.

Cisgender: This describes a person whose identity matches exclusively the one assigned at birth

Non-binary: This term encompasses a broad understanding of gender that cannot be categorized as masculine or feminine. Non-binary people may express masculine and feminine qualities at the same time or exist outside of those ideas of traditional roles. 

Gender fluid: This describes someone whose idea of gender changes throughout their life or day-to-day.

Why Is Gender Identity Important?

Gender identity is a profound expression of who a person is, and every person deserves to feel accepted by the society in which they live. Some people feel that there is a disconnect between the fact of their bodies and the gender identity that their community tells them they are. A person may have female body attributes but identify more with what society considers “masculine.” Or, they feel that their culture’s notions of being “feminine” don’t apply to them.

Some people experience gender dysphoria, which is not an illness, but a feeling of distress and unease because their biological sex does not “match” their gender identity. This dissatisfaction can lead to depression and anxiety. Some change the way they dress and behave to alter their gender expression, and others take hormone treatment or undergo gender reassignment surgery to make this change permanent. 

Contact Us Today

Advanced Behavioral Health is at the forefront of compassionate, effective gender-affirming care and strives to create a safe space where anyone can come to express their gender identity.

If you or someone you love struggles with gender identity issues, please get in touch with our team of qualified mental health specialists. You can call us at 301-345-1022 or send us a message online here. One of our team members will be stand by to help you find the confidential consultation you need.

When you think of the well-being of a child, you first think of basic needs: food, water, and shelter. Once these needs are met, however, it’s crucial for a child to have emotional and social wellness as well. In this article, we will explore the impact social wellness has on the overall health of a child and great ways for children to garner social support in their lives.

It comes as no surprise that as human beings, we all need connection with others, no matter what stage of life we are in. In fact, having social support is a social determinant of health (SDOH) that significantly impacts the health of an individual. After spending the last few years in and out of isolation due to the Covid-19 outbreak, social support is more important now than ever before. Having social support means having family members and friends you can talk to and seek advice from when life feels challenging and overwhelming. Knowing you’re not alone in your life journey, especially as a child, creates a sense of belonging and empowerment throughout one’s life.

4 Types of Social Support

Emotional Support. This type of support lets you know that people care about you and have empathy for your experiences. Emotional support often looks like people checking in on you to let you know they’re thinking of you, and that they are there if you need anything. As a parent, make sure your child knows you can be a sounding board for them. If you have family members who can also show up for your children in this way, even better!

Practical Help. This type of support is when people give you something tangible or offer a service to help you out. This could be in the form of money, making food when you are sick, or helping to pack when moving. Having family and friends show up in this way shows your child what it looks like to be present for people you love.

Sharing Points of View. This type of support can often come in the form of affirmations and encouragement. For example, pointing out your child’s strengths to them and reminding them they can do anything they put their mind to. It can also look like sharing another perspective if they are being hard on themselves. For example, if they are angry with themselves after receiving a bad grade on a test, you can help them see it as a learning experience and a way for them to grow.

Sharing Information. This type of support is when someone shares what they’ve learned from their own life experiences. For example, if another parent has a child who struggles with socializing, they can share some tips and tricks they’ve learned to help their child find and create social support.

The Importance of Social Groups and Extended Support

Children who are connected to their family, friends, and people in their community have opportunities to learn how to speak, share, and get along with others. When your child feels connected to people in your neighborhood, it often allows them to feel physically safe which can alleviate stress and worry. Simply riding bikes, going on walks, and saying hello to neighbors with your kids can create this sense of security for them.

In addition to engaging with your neighbors, getting involved in local organizations can also create social support for your child. Signing up for a sports team, musical theater, art class or summer camp are all great ways to help your child meet new friends and learn important social skills that can carry them through their lives.

Tips for Helping Kids Make Community Connections:

Spend time outside in your neighborhood playing on the playground, going to a local farmer’s market, or scheduling a playdate with neighborhood kids.

Show your kids that connection is a two-way street. If your neighbors or friends go out of town, offer to get their mail, or water their plants and take your child with you when you go. This will show your child how you show up for people you care about.

Make sure you make time for socializing with friends as well. Your child looks to you first and foremost for how they should act and live their own life.

Encourage your child to step out of their comfort zone and do something they may be scared to do. As a parent, it’s your job to push them into something social for their own well-being at times.