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Identifying as transgender (or trans) means knowing that your gender identity is different than the sex assigned to you at birth. For example, it could mean that you were assigned male at birth but you know that your gender identity is female. It could also mean that you were assigned male or female at birth, but understand that your gender identity is neither one or the other. In that case, your gender identity might be best described as non-binary.

Many people know that they’re trans from a very young age — even as young as age 3. For others, it may not be something they fully understand about themselves until later in life. It’s OK not to know, or to be questioning your gender identity. No matter what, your gender identity is valid.

Here are some things that may help you better understand your gender identity, and if you might be transgender.

  • Write about how you feel on a regular basis in a journal.

  • Talk about it with a close friend or family member who you trust.

  • Learn about other trans people’s experiences as much as possible, either by reading stuff they’ve written or meeting them in person. Schools and universities often have LGBTQ student groups, which can be a welcoming and safe environment to get to know people who may have gone through what you’re going through. Community LGBTQ centers also have support groups and other helpful resources.

  • Talk with a counselor or therapist who is familiar with and trusted by the trans community.

Remember to make your personal safety a priority, and only do what feels safe to you. And most importantly: you’re not the first person to ask these questions about your gender identity, and you’re not alone.