We asked young people around the world lớn tell us how they define their gender. Here’s what they told us


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Gender fluid: Daniela Esquivel Asturias moves between feeling more masculine & more feminine Photograph: Daniela Esquivel Asturias
Gender fluid: Daniela Esquivel Asturias moves between feeling more masculine và more feminine Photograph: Daniela Esquivel Asturias

Some days Daniela Esquivel Asturias, 21, wakes up feeling feminine and puts on a dress or lipstick. But on others Asturias feels much more masculine and the thought of wearing a skirt induces an overwhelming sense of dysphoria.

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“I would be equally comfortable with a male or female toàn thân. My male personality is more outgoing than my female one. It’s lượt thích having both male and female energies và some days a mix of both,” Asturias says.

Because the words to describe us are new people think being non-binary is a fad. But people have sầu always felt non-binaryClo,23The student from Costa Rica is gender fluid, and doesn’t identify with one gender, instead fluctuating between feeling more male or female. .

It’s hard to explain, Asturias says, before referring to lớn the way society tends to lớn define gender, on a spectrum. “At one end is being male & the other female, và you kind of move between the two, & usually remain in the middle.”

This is just one of the individual stories sent lớn the Guardian as part of a survey inviting millennials lớn define their gender.

Young people are increasingly challenging conventional gender stereotypes – half the US millennials surveyed by Fusion agree gender isn’t limited lớn male & female. OkCupid and Facebook now offer custom gender identities khổng lồ include a variety of options such as “androgynous”. In the US some universities accept gender-neutral pronouns – allowing students to lớn be called “they” rather than “he” or “she”.

We received 914 replies from 65 countries around the world (including some from a group of people who claimed they defined their gender as an “attaông xã helicopter”, which, while in some cases funny, didn’t seem entirely sincere ...). The majority of submissions came from the UK (302), followed by the US (209) & Canada (78). The median age of participants was 22. Replies ranged from people who felt comfortable with their birth gender, lớn people who felt agender, trans, và multigender.

Waking up khổng lồ your gender identity

Many of those who responded discovered their gender identity at different points in their lives.

For Jo, 25, a cis woman from the UK, her gender identity has always been clear. “I am definitely a female. I don’t really know how to identify as anything else ... it wasn’t a choice; it was more of a fact of life for me.”


She adds: “We are born as male or female, much lượt thích I’m born alive sầu rather than dead. Some young people do see this very differently, & this will be a culture change for the world.”

For Ham, trăng tròn, who was born in khổng lồ a British Musllặng family, awakening lớn their gender identity, which is androgynous, began much more gradually. “It came about over the last few years mainly because of social truyền thông media & blogging. I started to discover different views on gender & became more comfortable talking about how I felt ”

Ham has decided khổng lồ leave the Muslyên faith but says telling family members about feeling agender & bisexual would be far more difficult. “They are less likely khổng lồ accept my saying that.”

Mike, 32, has always felt different, but he only recently came out to his wife as trans, saying he could no longer cope with hiding it. “At first she was very shocked but she supports me, and lets me express myself around the house or out & about where no one knows me ... Now I have sầu opened this box these feelings of insecurity, & guilt over what I’m doing lớn my wife and what people will think of me are there all the time.”


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Payton Quinn gravitated towards masculine clothes as a teenager.“If I was a blank canvas with nobody who loves me and depends on me, yes I would transition, but I’m not, so I have lớn make the best of my situation. If I did transition, I would thua my wife who is the only person who really cares for me & our child,” Mike says. For now, Mike dresses as a woman at home page and has longer hair to feel more feminine.

In the case of Payton Quinn, 24, gender is ever evolving. Quinn gravitated towards masculine clothes as a teenager. “I cut my hair short and started binding my chest. I tried my best to pass as male.”

This behaviour caused other kids to pichồng fights, & after getting badly injured Quinn felt forced back to lớn presenting as a woman. But, after striking up a new relationship two years ago, Quinn felt svào enough lớn appear as male again.

“My friends started using male pronouns và one day someone referred to me as male, but I felt uncomfortable. It got me thinking – am I sure about this?” It was then that Quinn found out about gender fluidity. “I would say I am gender fluid but also non-binary & trans. My gender is an evolving thing, lượt thích my sexuality, the more I explore it the more it changes. The only reason why I feel I should put a label on it is just khổng lồ make it easier for other people.”

Young và transgender

There were advances in năm ngoái for trans visibility và rights, but many respondents talked about the challenges young trans people still face.

A lot of older people aren’t used to lớn talking about non-binary genders, so a little more patience is needed for themAllie, 21Parker Dell, 24, a trans male from the UK argues that the focus on trans issues actually has its downsides. “Caitlyn Jenner is just another reality TV star, but she’s got people talking, và often not in a positive sầu way. Gender identity clinic waiting times have absolutely shot up in the last year, because suddenly people are realising that they’re transgender. Not only is supply utterly failing khổng lồ meet demand, but young trans people are being accused of copying celebrities.”

Dell adds that while the growth in role models is good, the idea that a young person is choosing to be trans as part of a trover (dubbed “transtrender”) is stupid và hurtful. “It’s something too many young people have sầu khổng lồ khuyến mãi with.”

Alexis Strazds, 23, from Canadomain authority is a late bloomer in terms of her transsexuality. “It hit me when I stumbled upon the trans timelines, ie trans people posting before/after pictures of their transition. I looked through a bunch và noticed I was feeling envious of those women. Then I was, like, ‘Oh, that probably says something.’”


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Alexis Strazds has faced stigmatisation but says transphobic people tkết thúc lớn just avoid her.She adds: “Over the last couple of years my gender identity has grown a lot, và those shifts towards who I am now, while not without hardship, have sầu felt really great, like I’m genuinely, actually alive now, & lượt thích I’m growing & finding myself.”

Strazds has faced some stigmatisation. “Most of the people who are transphobic kinda just avoid me so I don’t have khổng lồ khuyến mãi with it much. I mean there’s creepy & rude people here & there, but that’s kindomain authority it. I gravitate towards good queers, so most of the people in my life are queer people with good gender politics.”

Kyle McQuillan, 27, from the US, is male, but was born female. He identifies as a gay man, saying: “Sometimes I feel more gender fluid, but never female. It’s who I have been my entire life.”

He says that we’ve come a long way in the last six years, but not far enough. “I’m not seen lớn have a mental illness any more, but I still need four letters for a surgeon khổng lồ perkhung my top surgery according khổng lồ Obamacare. Two from physicians approved by the system và two from therapists approved, as well. Of course, due khổng lồ this, the waiting menu is months, và then depending on the therapist the length of time for which you will need lớn see them varies.”

McQuillan adds that dating is also challenging as women are afraid they’ll be labelled lesbian. “I’ve sầu heard similar stories from trans women . But there are also those who stand up for us in the gay community. A friend và I went lớn a strip club, both of us are transgender, và were told we needed to come bachồng on ladies night if we wanted a lap dance, và a friover of ours, a gay man, also a drag queen, stood up for us. Even in the gay community we experience discrimination, but the more that our voices are heard, the more acceptance we are receiving.”

A generation apart


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Kyle McQuillan, who was born female, has always known he is a man.Generation Y has been dubbed the gender-fluid generation – Orange is the New Blachồng star Ruby Rose và pop singer Miley Cyrus both identify in this way.

The Guardian received 104 responses from people who felt gender fluid to lớn a greater or lesser extent. For some this even meant fluctuating between a multitude of genders. Cam, đôi mươi, from Ireland has experienced as many as 10 different genders, including male, female, bigender & agender. “Yesterday I came across another word: fluid flux. This fits with me because I experience several genders but they vary in intensity. They are socially constructed genders inasmuch as I would probably have described them differently in another civilisation, but the feeling is still innate.”

Cam is one of many young people asking questions. And this willingness khổng lồ acknowledge gender diversity is something millennials recognise in themselves. A majority of those who responded (446) felt that they did have sầu a different outlook towards gender compared to lớn older generations. However, a large number (346) also disagreed, and not everyone responded to this question.

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Allie, 21, from the UK, who defines as agenderflux, says: “A lot of older people aren’t as used lớn talking about non-binary genders as my generation are, so a little more patience is needed for them, I guess. I’ve sầu been told some people in older generations have been confused between terms & different non-binary identities.”


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Allie’s family are becoming used lớn non-binary terms.Allie adds that there is still, however,a lot of transphobic language, such as “tranny”, thrown around by acquaintances of all ages. “I don’t think a lot of people realise it’s offensive.”

Adam, 20, from the Netherlands, has transitioned from female to male. He doesn’t think generation Y has been brought up with different iđơn hàng, but as digital natives young people of this generation can retìm kiếm gender themselves online.

“We had the chance to lớn get more information than what was provided lớn us by older generations. When textbooks at school didn’t give enough information we looked it up ourselves. If there are things that are taboo or difficult lớn talk about with people cchiến bại to lớn you, you can find people online struggling with the same things.”

Clo, 23, from the US – who identifies as transmasculine, gender fluid, non-binary, and queer trans – says their family cannot accept them for who they are. “People think, just because the words to describe us are new, that being non-binary is a fad. But people have always lived and felt non-binary – there’s just a label for it now. And behind that label is a community, people who respect you and lift you up. We’re not a trover. We’re humans & this is integral to our sense of self. Acknowledging our humanity và identity doesn’t harm you.”