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Pride Month
A group of teenagers of various ethnicities and genders smiles at the camera
Alexis Bleich's picture

Part three in a series about LGBTQIA+ youth. Read parts one and two.

I'm an adolescent mental health provider, and I’d like to share an exercise with you. If you’re cisgender and heterosexual, take a moment and see if you can imagine the idea of being gay in your mind. If you’re cisgender and gay, see if you can imagine the idea of being straight in your mind.

Could you do it? You likely use your own experience of attraction to make a connection to this identity that is outside of your own lived experience.

Now try to imagine the idea of being transgender - having your biological sex (sex assigned at birth) be different from your gender identity. You may find that your mind does not easily grasp onto this concept, you may not have a readily available parallel or even a framework from which to start.

Or try the reverse, close your eyes, and take a breath. Now tell me, when did you first know your gender identity and your biological sex matched? How did you know? How did you know you were right?

The alchemy of gender - including biological sex, sex assigned at birth, gender presentation, gender identity - these all include your body, your mind, your relationships, your labels, your clothing, your hair, your family and culture and society - this is not a simple recipe. It only feels simple when your biological sex and your gender identity and your gender label all match. It’s even easier if you wear your hair and dress in a manner that society deems congruent or acceptable for that same gender. When that’s the case, you probably don’t think about your gender identity that much in your day to day life.

Now, you probably do think about your gender. I definitely think about being a woman in the world and all the myriad complications and joys that come with being a woman. But I don’t think much about the relationship between my gender and my sex. I don’t worry how my gender matches my identity. I get to walk through the world and choose how I’ll present, label, and think about my gender. I can even choose if I’ll think about it at all. I hope my gender expansive clients also get to have this freedom.


Don’t feel like you know a lot about gender identity? Confused about gender fluid, non binary, cis, trans? Not sure about the difference between gender identity and sexual orientation?

The Gender Unicorn ( is a great place to start familiarizing yourself with new vocabulary and a new non-binary way of thinking!

The National Center for Transgender Equality ( has a lot of great resources! GLAAD ( also has tips for allies.

Look into finding a local chapter of PFLAG (, an organization that supports queer and trans folks, as well as their parents, families, and allies.

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