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What Is Gender Fluid?

Gender-fluid is a term used to describe people whose gender identity changes over time.

What Is Gender Fluid?

Gender-fluid is a term used to describe people whose gender identity changes over time. A gender person may identify as a male on a particular day and a female on the next day. Gender-fluid persons may also identify as bigender, agender, or any other non-binary identity.

Some gender-fluid individuals may experience extreme changes regarding their identity, while others might feel that the change is a bit arbitrary.

When their gender identity changes, they might or not change their gender expression, name, and pronouns. Most gender-fluid people see the changes in their identities as an internal affair and might not want to show it outwardly.

Related: What is Non-Binary Gender Identification: A Brief Explanation

How Does Gender Develop and Change?

Gender identity development usually begins to develop in early childhood, mostly around age 2 or 3. Someone’s gender identity develops within some social context such as family, community, and current time. Each one of these might have traditions and expectations regarding gender expression and identity.

For instance, a person might come from a family that believes in gender diversity. The same person might move to an environment where people think girls should “look like” girls and boys should “look like” boys. This individual will automatically feel free to express their gender identity at home than in public.

For most people, gender identity and expression develop early and remain unchanged over time. However, for some people, either gender identity or expression will change at a given time or period. Although these changes can be experienced at any time of a person’s life, they are more likely to occur in childhood and adolescence than in adulthood.

Related: What is the Difference Between Sex, Sexuality, and Gender?

Are There Any Differences Between Gender Fluid And Transgender?

Although some individuals develop gender identity in early childhood, others identify with a certain gender at one time and another at a different time. For instance, someone might be identified as a boy at birth, and later, they identify as a girl for the rest of their lives. In this case, the individual identifies as a trans person instead of gender-fluid.

On the other hand, a person may identify as a girl until they are in their early 20s. They might then identify as non-binary, then they identify as a girl later on. This person may be considered gender-fluid since they experience changes in their gender identity and expressions more than once. Remember, they might not use gender-fluid as an identity label.

In short, anyone who identifies as gender-fluid is a gender-fluid person. The term is used to describe someone whose gender expression or identity, mostly their inner being, changes over time. Even so, gender fluidity may vary from one person to another.

What Is The Difference Between Gender Fluid And Gender Neutral?

Sometimes gender-fluid can be confused with gender-neutral. Gender-fluid means a person embraces a flexible nature regarding gender identity and expression. They can be one gender, various genders, or no gender.

Gender-neutral is used to describe people of any gender. Sexual orientations, gender expression, and identity or gender-neutral are undefined.

How Is Gender Fluid Related to The Health Of Children And Teens?

In most cases, people whose gender expression and identity do not match the gender they were assigned at birth experience discrimination and stigma. These experiences may cause minority stress, which is harmful to their mental and physical health.

Compared to cisgender teens, transgender teens are 2 to 3 times more likely to experience depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, self-harming behaviors, among others.

Most communities base their expectations on the traditions of what’s normal. A gender-fluid teen is bound to experience prejudice and discrimination due to changes in their gender identity and expression. Unfortunately, the discrimination might come from cisgender people and the transgender community who feels as if gender-fluid people are not really trans people. Seeing an individual who dresses like a woman one day and as a man, the next day can be confusing to anyone who has strict beliefs on gender.

How Do You Know Which Is the Best Term To Describe Your Experience?

The birth sex may not be a choice, but the label you prefer to describe you is entirely upon you. You are at liberty to choose the label that suits your descriptions. But, the hard part is that gender means different things to different people. That being the case, your gender identity is about you and how happy you are as a certain gender. You may use gender-fluid, agender, bigender, transgender, etc.

Common Misconceptions

It’s a phase: Most people think that gender-fluid is only a phase. Being gender-fluid means you might change your identity. When the change occurs, it does not mean that the person is no longer gender-fluid. They may change their identity as time goes by.

How To Help Your Loved Ones Understand Gender Fluidity

Discussing your gender identity and expression with your loved ones can be hard. Luckily, some resources can help you to explain your identity for easier understanding. If you are looking forward to making them understand, you might want to:

  • Emphasize that fluidity is not about displaying a feminine or masculine look, but it’s an expression of your emotional and physical interactions with the world.
  • Encourage your loved ones to listen first and ask questions later
  • Provide research showing that gender-fluid is not a trend and is not a mental challenge
  • Be honest about your emotions and feelings

Remember that everyone has their expectations of who you should be and how you should express yourself. The news of you identifying with a different gender may be hard for some of your loved ones. Allow them some time to digest the news, and don’t be hasty in concluding that they are not supportive. Be happy for those who will accept you immediately and be patient with the ones having a difficult time accepting.

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Danielle Aubin (she/her), Online Clinical Social Worker/Therapist, Roseville, CA
Kaitlen Knowles, Clinical Social Work/Therapist, LCSW (she, her), Rochester, NY

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