Gender identity

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Gender identity

Page written and resources collated by Jozef Sen, Lead Wellbeing Practitioner

It is important to differentiate between gender identity and sexual orientation.

  • Sexual orientation refers to an individual’s sexual attraction to others.
  • Gender identity refers to an individual’s internal (non-) gendered sense of self (how that person identifies/ self-defines) and what feels right for them. This might be male, female, non-binary, genderless, or some other gender identity. A trans-person can also be straight, bisexual or gay, or any other sexual identity. It is important to remember that all gender identities and sexual identities are equally valid.

Expressing or describing your gender identity

People’s thoughts and feelings about their gender identity and how they express their gender (gender expression) can be complex, changing, and deeply individual. Having a variety of words and labels to describe the various ways you might think about your gender helps you communicate who you are.

As with most issues relating to individual personal identity, transgender, and gender questioning, people use many different terms to describe their experiences, and not all terms fit all people. You may be familiar with the terms transgender or trans; these are umbrella terms for people who self-define as a gender different to that which they were assigned at birth (that is, what was written on their first birth certificate).

Gender is assigned at birth according to attributes such as chromosomes, hormones and external and internal anatomy. However, this assignment sometimes conflicts with people’s gender identity.

Some trans people feel clear about their gender identity from a young age whereas for others it’s less obvious, and how they feel about their gender may shift over time. Acknowledging how you feel about yourself may sometimes involve overcoming difficult feelings such as shame, guilt, or fear of disapproval.

Whether you have decided that you would rather be referred to by the non-binary pronoun of ‘they’, want to have your title changed, or wish to be known by your preferred gender identity and name, the University is committed to supporting you with this.

Note: we hope that the resources below are useful, we do not endorse the opinions expressed by other parties.


Self-help materials you can print, or download and save.

Resource Description
LGBTIQ+ (Mind) Gives accessible information about mental health support for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex, queer or questioning (LGBTIQ+).
Living My Life An engaging 28 page A5 booklet providing information for people who currently identify as Trans or who are beginning to explore their gender identity.
The Trevor Project  A helpful guide for how to be a good ally to transgender or non-binary people

Places to get help

Resource Description
SAYiT LGBT+ emotional wellbeing support in Sheffield
The Beaumont Society A national self-help body run by and for the transgender community. This resource provides free and accessible information and also has the option for paid membership.
The LGBT Foundation A helpline to discuss any aspects of sexual or gender identity. Tel: 0345 3 30 30 30, 9am until 9pm Monday to Friday, and 10am until 6pm Saturday.
Switchboard A national LGBT+ helpline. Tel: 0300 330 0630, 10am-10pm every day.
Pink Therapy A resource comprising lists of LGBT+ therapists, information, self-help literature.
Report and Support A University tool where you can report incidents of harassment, assault and discrimination and get advice. If you have experienced any kind of abuse or discrimination as a student, you may wish to use the Report and Support tool to get help.
Gender Identity Clinic, Sheffield Health and Social Care The Gender Identity Clinic, also known as the Porterbrook Clinic, is one of eight gender identity clinics in the UK. Here you can find information on how to access the clinic, further support available, and a frequently asked questions section
Gendered Intelligence Gendered Intelligence is a trans-led and trans-involving grassroots organisation with a wealth of lived experience, community connections of many kinds, and a depth and breadth of trans community knowledge. The registered charity exists to increase understandings of gender diversity and improve trans people's quality of life.  Gendered Intelligence also provide support to patients accessing many of the Gender Identity Clinics nationally
Tranzwiki - Gender Identity Research and Education society  It can be helpful to identify trans-friendly people, places and groups. This might be in online groups and spaces, such as Facebook groups, where we can ask questions of others in similar situations. Tranzwiki is a comprehensive directory of non-commercial groups and organisations supporting or assisting trans and gender diverse individuals, their families and friends across the UK.
 Mermaids Student Space 18 - 25 - Mermaids ( A free and confidential phone and webchat service has been designed specifically to support students. This is open to trans, gender-diverse and non-binary students who are aged 18 to 25, and is available 9am-9pm, Monday to Friday.

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