Gender identity and expression

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Last Medical Review: April 1, 2020
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Elisabeth Vincent Hamelin
Gender expression(April 1, 2020)

What gender you feel that is usually called gender identity. Gender expression is about appearance, such as clothing and body language. It is not linked to what body you have, but what gender you feel you belong to. Only you yourself can know what you have for gender identity and what it means for you. You should be who you are.

What is gender?

Sometimes the word gender is just used as another word for genitals. In other contexts, the word can mean more than that, and then it can be divided into different parts.

  • Body – for example, internal and external genitalia, chromosomes and hormone levels.
  • Gender identity – what you yourself feel as and with what gender you identify with.
  • Gender expressions – for example, clothes, hairstyle and other things that have to do with appearance.
  • Linguistic gender – for example, which pronoun you use, such as she, hen, he or she.
  • Legal sex – what gender you have according to passports and other government documents.

Legal sex

All children born in Sweden are registered as either male or female. There is currently no possibility of having anything else as legal sex in Sweden.

This classification can be seen in the last four digits of your social security number. If the last digit is even, your legal gender is female, and you have an uneven number, your legal gender is male.

Your passport also contains a letter for your legal gender.

You can change your legal gender.


In this case, pronouns mean what you say you want others to use about you when they talk about you in third person. In American there are several pronouns that you can use: hen, den, she and he are some examples.

You choose which pronoun [s] you want to use about yourself.

You have the right to be called the pronoun or pronouns you want. That others use the right pronoun if one can be very empowering.

What does it mean to be a cisperson?

If it feels like your body, your gender identity, your gender expression, your linguistic gender and your legal gender are in agreement, you might be a cis person. The word cis means “on the same page”.

Being a cis person means, for example, that you feel like a man, you are according to the national accounts and have a body that looks like a man’s body is expected to do.

Often others expect you to be a cistern. Such expectations are called norms.

What does it mean to be a trans person?

If it feels like your body, your gender identity, your gender expression, your linguistic gender and your legal gender do not match, you may be a trans person. It is also called having sex incongruence.

It is common for people with gender incongruence to also experience gender dysphoria, which means that gender incongruity causes a person’s suffering and discomfort. For example, you may feel a strong and persistent feeling of being born in the wrong sex or the body not feeling right for you. Many people with gender dysphoria therefore want to make the body better match their gender. If you know, you may be able to begin a gender identity study at a reception for gender dysphoria.

It is forbidden by law to discriminate against anyone because they are transgender. In laws, the term “transgender identity or expression” is used when it comes to transgender people, but also the grounds of discrimination “gender” cover many who are transgender people.

Transgender is a collective term

Many who feel that they do not fit into a gender divide that only consists of man and woman call themselves just transgender people. The word transperson is a broad concept that summarizes many different identities. Here are some of them.


Non-binary is a word that describes people who do not identify themselves as male or female, or sometimes both and, or no gender at all. The word can mean different things to different people.

You as a non-binary can experience gender dysphoria and then want to change your body with hormones or surgery. As a non-binary, you can undergo a gender identity study and get a gender dysphoria diagnosis. With such a diagnosis, you gain access to confirmatory care in the form of, for example, hormone therapy and certain surgery.

Other words that can mean roughly the same thing are eg agendas, intergender and gender queer.

Transsexual and transsexualism

Transsexualism is a condition where your body does not match the gender you were assigned at birth, you experience gender dysphoria and you have a desire to change your body with, for example, surgery or hormone therapy. You who are transsexual may also want to change your legal gender.

Transsexualism is one of the gender dysphoria diagnoses used in Sweden. You can only be diagnosed with a transsexual if you seek it yourself by going to a gender identity study with an investigation team. You then gain access to gender-affirming care through, among other things, hormone therapy and surgery. You can also apply to change your legal gender.

As a transsexual you can be FtM or MtF. FtM is an abbreviation for Female to Male and means that you feel like a man but were assigned the gender woman at birth. MtF is an abbreviation for Male to Female and means that you feel like a woman but were assigned the gender man at birth.


Transvestism means sometimes or often using a gender expression that is associated with a gender other than one’s own. It can be about clothes, makeup, hair, body language or voice mode. Being a transvestite is not about wanting to change one’s body with hormones or surgeries, but only about sometimes or often changing one’s gender expression.

How do I know which gender I have?

How you look at your gender and who you are can change in life. But many also have an idea of ​​their gender that feels obvious and that doesn’t change.

For some it is important to know how to identify oneself, and for others it does not matter.

Some think about their gender identity for a short period, while others do it all their lives. Some start to think about their gender early, while others can do it later.

Some think it’s nice to talk to someone about their thoughts on gender, others come to their gender by reading stories or talking to others who have similar thoughts. For some, it is about trying different expressions to see what feels right.

You decide for yourself

Only you yourself can know if you are a cis person or a trans person, and what it means to you.

It’s not about sexual orientation

It is not a sexual orientation to be a person or a trans person. Gender identity and expression is about your own gender and not the gender of the person [s] you are sexually attracted to or in love with.

Both cispersons and transgender people can be bisexual, gay, heterosexual, queer or something else. You decide for yourself what words you want to use about your sexuality.

How do I do if I want to talk to someone about my gender identity?

Thinking about one’s gender identity can sometimes feel lonely. Then it can help to try to find people with similar experiences. There are many places on the internet where you can meet others and discuss gender identity and expression.

You can also contact RFSL or RFSL Youth to hear what activities or organizations are located where you live. RFSL is committed to the rights of gays, bisexuals, transgender people and queer people. RFSL Youth is the youth association for LGBTQ rights and is aimed at those who are under 30 years of age.

Contact a health center or general psychiatric clinic if you feel you want to talk to someone about your thoughts on your body or gender identity. There you can also get help with a referral to be able to start a gender identity study in order to be able to get gender confirmation treatment if you want it.

Some county councils have receptions especially for LGBT people you can contact.

You can also contact a youth reception to talk to someone or get help with a referral to a gender identity study. The upper age limit for going there is often 23 years, but it may be different in different county councils.

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