Blog: How counselling helped me discover my gender identity

Everyone has different and unique experiences with their gender identity. In this personal article, Fumble blogger Phil Hill shares their story of self-discovery

I’m possibly the biggest advocate for counselling you could ever meet. I struggle to accept that it doesn’t work for some people, and would argue that they just haven’t met the right counsellor yet.

I’ve been going to counselling on and off for the last eight years. For me, it’s not just a place to get stuff off your chest, but a journey of self-discovery. Around four months ago, that journey of self-discovery made me come to one of the biggest realisations of my life; that despite my female body parts, and despite having always been raised as a girl, I am, in fact, not female.

I cannot argue that my biological sex is not a woman’s, but my gender, however, is not.

The difference between sex and gender is still largely misunderstood by a lot of people, so let’s break it down:

Sex = Anatomy, genitalia, chromosomes
Gender = A social construct, how you identify, how you feel in your head and your heart

For years (and I mean years) I showed signs that my gender and sex may not have aligned; from spending my childhood playing with the boys, to my teens where I was more interested in sports and gaming than hair and make up, to adulthood, where I changed my name to a ‘man’s’ name by deed poll.

My counsellor and I had spoken many times about how much of a ‘tomboy’ I had been throughout my life – although now I don’t use this term as it implies I’m a girl who just like boyish things.

While we were talking about this one day, he asked me: “What gender do you identify as?”

I replied: “I 100% identify as female, but feel 90% masculine”.

Little did I know, that was the moment that changed everything.

That question triggered something inside of me. I can’t say that the way I then saw my gender changed as suddenly as the flicking of a switch, but within a few weeks I had gone from 100% identifying as a woman, to not identifying as one at all.

So if I’m not a girl, does that make me a guy?

No.

There are multiple genders out there, I just don’t identify as any one of them. Putting a label on my feelings (even if that label embraces gender diversity, such as non-binary or genderless) feels restricting and unnecessary. I want to live label free!

I think I was probably born this way, it just took a probe from the right person and 26 years for me to realise it! It’s not that surprising given that society never asked me what gender I was, but simply assumed – and then treated me a certain way as a result.

Now I can figure out my identity in my own time, and on my own terms: and I can’t wait to get started.

 

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