Culture and Society

Home » Culture and Society

Exploring the Different Types of Gender Identity

Research found that 5.6% of U.S. adults identify as LGBT, 0.6% as transgender, and 0.2% as other (queer, etc.), according to Gallup’s 2020 update on lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender identification.

These percentages are rising, with each younger generation often feeling more comfortable identifying as a gender other than cisgender. The increase in differing identifications makes it essential for people to better understand gender identity to be accepting of and respectful to others.

You may be familiar with the types of gender identities that exist in society today, but understanding the different types of gender identity is critical to being a respectful person. This post will explain some of the most common types of gender identity and expression, why gender identity is important, and what to do if you’re on your own exploration of gender.

Sexual Orientation vs. Gender Identity

It’s vital to understand the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity. Sexual orientation refers to who someone is attracted to. Gender identity is who someone feels themselves to be. A saying you may find helpful to understand the difference is “sexual orientation is who you go to bed with, gender identity is who you go to bed as.”

What Are the Types of Gender Identity?

Here’s a brief description of some types of gender identity so you can increase your understanding of the variations that exist. Keep in mind, terms within the trans and gender-nonconforming community are ever-changing and evolving as our understanding of gender becomes more nuanced, so some of these terms might change in the future.

Agender –  People who identify as agender describe themselves as not having a gender or lacking gender altogether. They may describe themselves as having no gender to express.Bigender – A person who identifies as bigender has two unique gender identities. It’s usually categorized as a type of transgender identity.Cisgender – Cisgender is the term used to describe someone whose gender identity matches their sex assigned at birth. “Cis” in Latin means “on the same side as.”Gender Expansive – Gender expansive refers to anyone who is not cisgender. Someone might also describe their identity as gender expansive if they fall into more than one category or simply want to describe it that way.Gender Fluid – Gender fluid refers to someone whose gender identity is not fixed or doesn’t stay the same from day to day or even hour to hour.Genderqueer – This term is an umbrella for people who don’t identify as cisgender. People who identify as genderqueer may also identify as agender, gender fluid, or another category in addition to this descriptor.Non-binary – The gender binary is the system that separates the category of gender into two: man and woman. Those who identify as non-binary feel that you can’t describe their gender in binary terms. Therefore, they are non-binary.Transgender – Someone who identifies as transgender feels their gender is different than their sex assigned at birth. Trans people don’t have to receive gender-affirming medical treatment (hormonal treatment, surgeries) to identify as trans.

What is the Difference Between Gender Identity and Gender Expression?

Gender identity is how someone feels themselves to be — man, woman, genderfluid, agender, or otherwise. Gender expression is how a person chooses their aesthetic to express how they feel regarding their gender. That might include wearing makeup, dresses, and heels for some people. For others, it could be a combination of masculine clothes, feminine mannerisms, and other aesthetic looks that feel authentic to them in the way they want to express themselves that day.

Why is it Important to Know Your Gender Identity?

The expression of your gender is an integral part of your self-identity and is central to your mental health and well-being. Understanding your gender identity can help you understand how you relate to those around you, what your place is in your community, and how you can express yourself in authentic ways.

Whether you choose to go with traditional gender norms or express yourself in entirely different ways, knowing your gender identity helps you understand yourself. Knowing yourself is key to mental health.

Why It’s Critical to Respect Someone Else’s Gender Identity

Contrary to some people’s ideas, it’s not necessary to completely understand another person’s gender identity for you to be able to respect them. It’s helpful to have some background information on gender, but it’s not critical that you have a complete history of a person’s gender milestones and growth process.

Being affirming toward the trans and gender-nonconforming community is considered common decency. Respecting people’s gender identity is central to respecting them as a human. Even if you don’t fully understand someone’s choices, don’t be unkind to people based solely on the fact that their gender identity is different from yours.

What to Do If You’re Confused

This post merely skims the surface of gender studies. If you find that you’re still confused, wanting to learn more, or questioning your gender, these tips can help you in your journey toward understanding gender identity.

Do Research and Educate Yourself – Many free resources provide good information regarding trans and gender nonconforming identities and communities. Spend some time finding local groups or resources that can connect you directly to communities made up of experts.Listen and Show Respect – What’s the best thing to do when you don’t know the answer to something? Ask someone who does, then listen! You may understand the nuances of gender and gender identity, but if you’re speaking with someone in the community, know that they are the expert on their own experiences.Keep Their Confidences – If someone confides in you about their gender identity, sexual orientation, or anything else personal about themselves, don’t assume it’s your job to tell the whole world what that person told you. They will announce what they want and to whom they wish to when the time is right for them.Volunteer Your Help – Get involved in your local LGBTQ+ community organizations. Maybe you can volunteer to help with fundraisers, raise awareness, or be involved in a way that works for you. Showing support through these organizations is a wonderful way to signal to others that you’re an ally.Get Support if Needed – Many therapists specialize in gender. They can help individuals questioning their gender identity work through emotions, find support, and develop healthy coping strategies that promote mental health and well-being. Mental health professionals can specialize in gender issues, the LGBTQ+ community, and other populations. They may be helpful for someone struggling with their own gender identity or who just wants to learn more about it.

Let All Counseling Can Help

All Counseling’s therapist directory offers a full list of therapists who specialize in gender identity issues. This list can help you connect you to a therapist who will assist you in expressing your thoughts and feelings related to gender identity, exploring your concept of your gender identity, or making meaningful progress in your mental health journey.
Culture and Society

What Does the Bible Say About Counseling?

If you’re a Christian going through mental health issues, you may find yourself wondering what the Bible says about counseling. Does the Bible’s teaching condone or condemn therapy?

The short answer is, “Yes!” The Bible is the first form of support and therapy for Christians, so it definitely encourages people to seek counseling and therapy. There are even mental health professionals who specialize in Christian counseling. Christians can see a counselor who is highly trained in mental health issues and is able to incorporate God’s word in therapy for a full faith-based and relational therapeutic experience.

While some people rely solely on their faith to get them through life’s difficulties or mental health concerns, the Bible supports seeking therapy. Here’s what the Bible says about therapy and the common reasons people seek it.

The Bibles’ View on Common Mental Health Conditions

Anxiety

The Bible distinguishes between godly concern for God’s glory and others vs. ungodly anxiety and fear which focuses on what might happen to you. The Bible seeks to help people understand how to be good Christians, and many verses talk about easing worry and seeking refuge in the Lord. God calls upon Christians to find strength in their relationship with Him and with one another. Having a therapist who understands scripture and the therapeutic process can help you grow through your anxiety. 

Depression

Christians often find hope in the Bible. Many verses speak to those experiencing deep sadness or despair and encourage them to seek help. In Psalms, David uses positive self-talk to remind himself of his strength alongside God.

Counselors can help people develop the skills to practice positive self-talk and recognize negative self-talk when it’s happening. These are valuable skills in healing from depression.

Addiction

Temptation is rampant within society. The Bible says a lot about renewing your mind andhow, as humans, people are flawed and in need of help. The critical thing to remember is that Christians are never alone in their temptation, sin, or suffering. Finding strength in your faith to heal your substance use issues is key. 

Many Christian counselors specialize in treating substance use issues. They can help you find the strength to heal, drawing inspiration from the teachings of the Bible. Additionally, numerous support groups specialize in Christian recovery from substance use.

Grief and Loss

The healing process from grief due to the loss of a loved one or something important looks different for everyone. As a Christian, you probably find hope in the Bible during times of struggle. Experiencing grief can seem earth-shattering, but the Bible reminds people that Christians are never alone in their suffering. The Bible can show a purpose to our pain and provide promises that those who mourn will be comforted.

Working through tough emotions is part of the process of counseling. Your therapist can help you find ways to grieve that work for you, some of which might include attending church services or finding comfort in specific practices or verses that reference loss.

Marriage Problems

Many couples seek marriage counseling for relationship and fertility issues. If you and your spouse are Christians and have issues within your relationship, the Bible supports working through these issues so the marriage can become healthier and more loving.

A Christian marriage counselor can help you and your partner identify the root causes of marital issues and help you draw inspiration from the teachings of Christianity. Forgiveness is a common theme found within the Bible. Your therapist can help you remember these teachings and practice forgiveness and empathy with your spouse.

Abuse and Trauma

The Bible asks Christians to cast off their doubts and lean into the love of God. After a person is abused or experiences trauma, they may question their faith. Christian counselors specializing in abuse and trauma recovery won’t dissuade you from your tough questions. Instead, they will walk alongside you and remind you of the deep love God has for you, despite your life and experiences.

The Bible teaches Christians that if they put their faith in God and God’s teachings, they will be strengthened and guided toward love. The Bible recognizes that people need support from others. Christian counselors and therapists can help you work through your emotions related to abuse and trauma.

Other Mental Health Concerns

Ultimately, God calls Christians to love. This love includes love for yourself. If you have mental health concerns that lead you to question if you need counseling or therapy, know that the Bible supports you in seeking help that allows you to love yourself and be mentally and spiritually healthy. You aren’t meant to suffer alone. And you can heal your emotional health while also strengthening your faith.

Common Myths Christians Think About Counseling

People who have grown up in the Christian faith may have some misconceptions about counseling. Truthfully, the Bible is full of messages of God’s love. Christian counselors will support your healing journey despite these common myths.

If You Pray Hard Enough, You’ll Be Healed – We are not alone on this earth for a reason. God is a relational God and therefore expects us to work together for His glory. He has provided us with people who are given various strengths and talents in the world to allow us to help one another. Sometimes, seeking healing is the point. He wants us to ask for help from Him and each other. Rely on the resources the Lord has placed in your life and ask for help when you need it.If The Lord is My Strength, I Can’t Be Weak – Weakness is part of the human condition. The Bible tells Christians that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. Seeking help during a time of weakness allows God’s voice to be heard loud and clear during those dark moments and shows us and others just how loving and comforting He is.I Can Just Talk to My Family, Friends, or Pastor About My Problem – The Bible encourages you to lean into your support system. But, sometimes, speaking to your family, friends, or pastor isn’t enough. These times are when mental health professionals come in. They are unbiased third parties who work for you, your physical and your mental health. Their focus is on you. They are professionally trained to recognize when a medical condition might be the cause of your struggle and help you get the help you need.The Therapist will Humiliate Me – Therapists create a safe, confidential and empathetic environment. A mental health professional will not intentionally make you feel embarrassed, as that’s detrimental to your comfort and trust. Your therapist is there to help you heal, not make you feel bad. Therapy may not always be comfortable because of the concerns you’re addressing, but it should be an overall beneficial experience.Counseling is Only for Weak, Mentally Ill, or Crazy People – Deciding to go to counseling involves an immense amount of strength and courage. Admitting that you need help is difficult. Christian teachings say to work on yourself and be honest about your faults. By asking for help to better yourself, you’re putting in work with your faith, showing humility and courage to work. All are parts of a critical process that ultimately strengthens you.

Understanding Christian Counseling

You can seek counseling that is faith-based and supports your views. Thousands of trained mental health professionals practice Christian counseling and will affirm your religious philosophy.

All Counseling can help connect you to a therapist you’re comfortable with. Regardless of your faith, beliefs, or mental health concerns, the search for a counselor for you doesn’t have to be difficult. Use our counselor directory for listings of therapists who understand your needs.
Culture and Society

Overcoming the Toxicity of Diet Culture

Diet culture may seem like a way to hold people accountable for their health. But, it often has the opposite effect — harming people physically and mentally. Rejecting toxic diet culture will help you think about body image in a more positive and healthy manner.

What is Toxic Diet Culture?

There are many definitions of diet culture. Simply put, diet culture values thinness and equates it to health, beauty, and overall goodness.

Diet culture is misleading. It relies on the idea that if you do all of the right things, you can become thin, which is ideal. It’s simply not true. Even if everyone ate the same foods and did the same activities, various body types would exist.

Diet culture is harmful. Restrictions can be physically and emotionally dangerous. Strict food regimens may lead to a loss of control, like binge eating. Not everyone who participates in restrictive eating will develop an eating disorder, but some will.

Emotionally, diet culture creates intense shame for people whose bodies don’t meet the right standards.

Diet culture is everywhere. It’s not just the beliefs and insecurities. It also shows up in marketing and the $70 billion diet business. It’s seemingly impossible to escape these messages. You have to learn to identify them for what they are to overcome toxic diet culture.

The Tenets of Diet Culture

The core tenets of diet culture revolve around how your body looks. They’re also about how you strive to achieve the ideal body type. Further explanation of the tenets follows.

Worth Based on Size – Diet culture relies heavily on the idea that there is a perfect body shape and size. This ideal may look more like a Barbie doll than an average woman. But it’s difficult to say what it looks like because it changes. The ideal size changes so frequently that no one person can have all of the components of what society deems a perfect body.Non-Ideal People are Less Valuable – Those whose bodies don’t fit the ideal are somehow less than. This concept disproportionately affects women, femmes, trans people, people with larger bodies, people of color, and people with disabilities. It harms their physical and mental health.Thin Privilege – Like most privilege concepts, thin privilege doesn’t mean you’ve never had body-image issues, or you’ve never experienced body-shaming (Yes, people also get thin-shamed.). Thin privilege means you have greater access to resources and face less discrimination because of your build.  People with larger bodies face bias. It’s difficult for people with average or larger bodies to exist. It is difficult to find clothes that fit or spaces that fit, like airplane seats, for example.Food Shaming – When you judge what’s on another person’s plate or in their grocery cart, that is food shaming. Typically, food shaming is related to the moral belief that guides our food and nutrition ideas. It pops up when we say things like, “I could never eat two scoops of ice cream,” as someone strolls past you with their double-scoop. Of course, it’s essential to eat nutritious foods. But most foods can be enjoyed when you’ve developed an intentional relationship with food.Food Restrictions – The majority of diets restrict your intake of certain foods. There’s paleo, keto, intermittent fasting, etc. These diets require eliminating food groups, only eating certain foods, or eating within a shorter window of time.  By saying that people should not eat certain foods, these diets imply there are good and bad foods. The truth is that food does not contain morality in its ingredient list. When you label something good or bad, you teach yourself to feel shame, guilt, or praise accordingly. These feelings take a toll on your relationship with yourself, your body, and your relationship with food.Exercise as Punishment or Reward – Diet culture makes you believe that physical activity is a form of punishment or prevention. How many times have you forced yourself to go for a longer run to burn off the bad meal you ate? By conditioning yourself to believe your meal was bad, you teach yourself that movement is punishment. On the other hand, you may use exercise as a way to treat yourself to a no-no food later. You may think, “If I work out twice, I can have my favorite dessert.” Linking exercise to your food choices makes physical activity unenjoyable.  If you choose to participate in physical activity, it should be because you enjoy it. You should use exercise to reach personal goals unrelated to your weight, like increasing heart health or lessening stress.

Implications for Eating Disorders

Diet culture and eating disorders are linked. Being bombarded with the ideal image makes people think they are lesser if they don’t accomplish it or aspire to.

Diet culture influences eating disorders by:

Increasing and normalizing limiting food intake and excessive exerciseMaintaining that health is directly related to size.Encouraging body image issues. Negative feelings about your body motivate you to change your behavior to lose weight.Strengthening traits like fear of failure, rigorous or strict thinking, and perfectionism.Preserving negative thoughts about weight (fat-shaming, weight bias, weight stigma).

How to Reject Diet Culture

Instead of subscribing to diet culture, it’s essential to keep your overall well-being at the forefront. To reject diet culture, you have to teach your brain and body to see your value. You have to feel this regardless of your body type or what others may think of it.

Think of Health at Every Size

Anti-diet means anti-diet culture. It’s pushing back against a system created to diminish and shame those who do not meet western and white beauty standards. Anti-diet culture is not anti-health or anti-medical nutrition therapy. This cultural shift is about rejecting the idea of an ideal body size or type.

As Lindo Bacon wrote in the book Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight, your well-being and habits are more important than your weight.

To reject diet culture, Bacon recommends adopting the following principles in your life:

Acceptance – Accept your body’s size and appreciate your body. This acceptance means empowering yourself by loving and appreciating the body you have.Trust – Trust yourself and your body to keep you healthy. Support your body by paying attention to its hunger, fullness, and appetite signals.Balance – Adopt balanced lifestyle habits. Look for purpose and meaning in your life and work to develop and nurture connections. Find joy in physical activity. Eat to nourish your body.Understanding – Understand and embrace size diversity. People come in various shapes and sizes. Appreciate yourself and others for your unique attractiveness.

Embrace Intuitive Eating

Registered dieticians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch identified the concept of intuitive eating in 1995. Intuitive eating is about paying attention to your body to meet its physical and psychological needs.

Intuitive eating has 10 core principles:

Reject Diet Mentality – Reject the toxic diet culture, leaving it and all of its ideas in the past.Honor Your Hunger – Feed your body with adequate nutrients for energy, including carbs. If you are hungry, you’re more likely to overeat. Trust yourself with food so you can respond to what your body needs when it needs it.Make Peace with Food – Permit yourself to eat what you want when you want. Forget about making any food off-limits.Challenge the Food Police – Fight back against thoughts of yourself as good or bad, depending on what you eat.Discover the Satisfaction Factor – Learn how to make eating pleasurable and satisfying. Don’t surround eating with judgment, shame, or guilt.Feel Your Fullness – Pay attention to your body’s signals that it’s full and stop eating. Understand that you can eat again when your body needs more fuel.Be Kind to Yourself – Recognize that food restriction can create a loss of control. Find ways to resolve your anxiety, loneliness, boredom, anger, etc., instead of eating. Remember that food won’t fix your feelings.Respect Your Body – Respect the way your body is built. It’s part of your genetic blueprint that you cannot change. Learn to love yourself.Get Active and Feel – Use exercise for the joy of movement, not for punishment. Embrace the positive feelings you get from exercise.Honor Your Health – Make healthy and delicious food choices. You don’t have to eat perfectly to be healthy.

With intuitive eating, people learn to turn to their internal cues. Internal cues help you decide when, how, and what to eat. By listening to yourself, you can destigmatize food choices. You can decide what you want, and what your body needs when you’re hungry.

Consider Movement As Care

Diet culture has influenced how we think about exercise — it’s punishment. We feel dread as we lace up our sneakers. But, physical activity should bring you joy. Exercise makes you strong and is an excellent way to manage your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. You should think of exercise as being about health, not shape or size.

Exercise and other vigorous activities are good for your mind and body. Movement can positively impact your mood, stress levels, and self-esteem. It also can lessen the effects of depression or anxiety. When depression and anxiety are better controlled, it reduces the urge to eat emotionally. Furthermore, adults who participate in daily physical activity decrease their risk of dementia by up to 30%.

Let All Counseling Help

Diet culture is damaging to all aspects of your health. While it may be difficult, it is critical to your well-being to learn how to reject diet culture and embrace happiness. All Counseling wants you to find help to combat your thoughts around eating, food, and exercise.

Use our therapist directory to find the mental health support you deserve.

References:

Intuitive Eating. 2021. 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating | Intuitive Eating. Available at: https://www.intuitiveeating.org/10-principles-of-intuitive-eating/ .

Intuitive Eating. 2021. Definition of Intuitive Eating | Intuitive Eating. Available at: https://www.intuitiveeating.org/definition-of-intuitive-eating/ .

Lindobacon.com. 2021. Available at: https://lindobacon.com/HAESbook/pdf_files/HAES_Manifesto.pdf .

The Original Intuitive Eating Pros. (2019, December 20). 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating. Intuitive Eating. https://www.intuitiveeating.org/10-principles-of-intuitive-eating/
Culture and Society