Sexuality

Our sexuality is something that can mean different things to different people. In this section we will be referring to it as those we are sexually attracted to.

Some people know from a very young age whether they are attracted to girls, boys or both, but for some others it can take time to work out how they feel. The most important thing to remember is that it is normal for us to take time to work out who we are, and no-one should pressure us to feel one way or another.

It is a totally personal thing. It can be daunting for some people when they realise that they are attracted to people of the same sex. Telling their friends and family about it can be difficult.   Often people worry about how their friends and family will react amd what they will say and do once they are told.  . These and other questions or anxieties may play on a person's mind when they imagine having that conversation.

Talking about the way you feel with people you trust is an important part of embracing who you are and can be a very positive and supportive experience.

A good starting point is telling someone who is very likely to be supportive and helpful. This can help with gaining the confidence to tell other people - and it means that person is there to help, whatever happens next.

Gender

Some people feel that the gender they were given at birth is not the same as how they feel inside. So, for example, a girl might feel that really she is a boy or vice versa. For some, these feelings begin during early childhood, and for others it can start later - often during puberty.

The proper term for this feeling is gender dysphoria, and it can cause a lot of confusion and difficult emotions. Gender dysphoria is not a mental illness – it is a recognised medical condition,  although its causes are not yet fully understood. But to be diagnosed with the condition a person must feel strongly that they are not the gender they have been brought up as. For more details information click here.

Transitioning - living as my preferred gender

Sometimes people who are transgender (or Trans for short) decide to live their life as their preferred gender. This is known as transitioning, and could involve changing the clothes they wear, having a different haircut or wearing makeup.

Some Trans people make changes in order to look and feel as much like their preferred gender as possible. This can involve medical treatment such as hormone therapy. Hormone therapy can be used to delay the physical changes that occur during puberty until a person decides for sure which gender they identify with.  Hormone therapy can also be used to begin changing the body towards a person's preferred gender. In adulthood the person may opt for surgery to take this process further.

However, there are no rules as to what a person should do, or how they should feel about gender. Not everyone who is Trans seeks to become the gender they identify with - it'sokay for us to live as we like and be who we want to be! Some people feel their gender is fluid - that it changes between male and female, and others don't identify with either gender.

So it really is just about getting to grips with who we are and learning to make the most of life.

What if I want to transition?

Realising that you want to transition can be scary, confusing and daunting. You might be worried about who to talk to, how people will react and what to do next. There is help for people. It can really help to talk to someone in confidence about concerns and to have questions answered. Going to see your GP to talk through treatment options, whatever your age, is also a good place to start.  Remember, conversations with health care workers, doctors and counsellors are confidential (this means they won't tell anyone what people say in their appointments - or that they have been for an appointment). Click here for more information.

If you are a young person Childline have a free helpline and their on-line forum is always open with friendly people ready to listen and answer questions, click here to go to their page. 2BU Somerset is a youth support group for LGBT young people in Somerset you can find out more on their website  www.2busomerset.co.uk