Gender Identity 101

Gender identity is a person’s own sense of identification as male, female, neither, both, or somewhere in between. Sometimes people get confused about the difference between gender and sex. Gender refers to the gender that someone identifies with, while sex is usually refers to the sex someone is assigned at birth.

Your sex is usually determined by a variety of things including chromosomes, reproductive organs and secondary sex characteristics. Sex also works as a continuum, with male and female at either end, and in between is intersex. Read more on our Intersex 101 page.

Gender identity can be influenced by culture, feelings, thoughts, clothing, people around us, and more. It can be helpful to think of gender as a continuum, with male and female at either end. Our ideas, and social constructs influence what male and female at either end of the spectrum look like, and you can identify anywhere in between.

Transgender is usually used to describe people who were assigned a sex at birth and identify with a different gender identity.

If you feel like you weren’t born with a body that aligns with how you feel about yourself, or even feel somewhere in between, you’re not alone! In New Zealand alone, 1% of young people identified themselves as transgender, and 3% were unsure of their gender identity.

At RainbowYOUTH we use ‘gender diverse’ as an umbrella term for an extremely varied range of identities, including culturally specific ones. We use it acknowledging that it includes identities such as: whakawahine, tangata ira tane, FtM, MtF, transsexual, fa’afafine, transgender, takatāpui, whakawahine, akava’ine, leiti, trans men, trans women, non-binary, genderqueer and gender-neutral people. We also acknowledge that this term might not work for everyone.

Helpful resources:


If you, a friend or a whānau member need support with anything related to gender diversity, please visit our Transgender Peer Support Service page to find out more about the support we can offer. 


We have a regularly updated page on research relevant to queer, gender diverse and intersex people here.

General Info

More Than Four (NZ)
More Than Four is a new video and poster resource from InsideOUT, exploring the identities and experiences of and beyond ‘LGBT’ identities.

Gender Identity (The REAL Sex Talk) (NZ)
While our society has generally insisted on identifying us as either male or female, gender also exists on a continuum, so it is totally okay to use a different label.

Inside Out (NZ)
A friendly and accessible learning resource to help increase understanding and support of sex, gender and sexuality diversity, so we can all belong.

Miscellaneous (NZ)
This is a blog about mental health, social justice, and sharing resources related to the health and wellbeing of people with diverse sexes, genders, and sexualities.

All of Us (NZ)

The All of Us Project is a resource booklet aiming to start a conversation around increasing access and inclusion for intersex, gender diverse and queer young people who also have other minority identities. 

Non-binary, Here’s what it means (AUS)
So the word I use to describe my gender is non-binary. Here are some things you need to know to understand who I am.

Understanding Gender (U.S.)
While our gender may begin with the assignment of our sex, it doesn’t end there. A person’s gender is the complex interrelationship between three dimensions: body, identity and expression.

Unpacking TERF Logic

This brochure recognises that trans-exclusionary ideology exists, and attempts to deconstruct its logic. 

The I’m Local Project (NZ)
Pick your region and find your local community using the I’m Local Regional Directory of queer and gender diverse support groups.

Gender Minorities Aotearoa (NZ)
An organisations that assists trans, intersex and takatāpui people in having choices about their lives, their bodies, and in getting the things they need!


How to be a Trans Ally (NZ)
We worked with LUSH & InsideOUT to create a booklet about how to be a trans and gender diverse ally. 

Healthcare & Wellbeing

Out Loud Aotearoa (NZ)
The aim of this project was to use art to share the stories and wishes of the queer, gender diverse, intersex, takatāpui, MVPFAFF or rainbow communities around Aotearoa’s mental health and addiction services with the intention of compiling them into a submission to the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction.

Youth ‘12: Fact Sheet about Transgender Young People (NZ)
This fact sheet presents selected findings on the health and wellbeing of secondary school students who identified as transgender. It is based on the Youth’12 health and wellbeing survey of 8,500 New Zealand secondary school students undertaken in 2012.

Guidelines for Gender Affirming Healthcare for gender diverse and transgender children, young people and adults in Aotearoa New Zealand (NZ)
Provides research and recommendations about best practice for treating and supporting gender diverse people in healthcare situations.

Name Changes

Naming NZ (NZ)
Naming New Zealand is an organisation to help transgender, gender diverse and intersex youth with updating their identity documents to correctly reflect their sex and gender.


Guide to Supporting LGBTIQA+ Students - Ministry of Education (NZ)
A guide for schools about best practice when supporting queer, gender diverse and intersex young people. Includes a helpful resource bank and tips for designing inclusive school policies

Sexual Violence

In Our Own Words: NZ’s first gender minority inclusive report on sexual violence (2018)(NZ)
The report, ‘In Our Own Words’, is the first fully gender minority inclusive research report on sexual violence in Aotearoa.

Seeking Asylum

Rainbow Railroad (CAN)
A Canadian-based organisation that helps queer, intersex and gender diverse folks experiencing state-sponsored violence to seek asylum in safer countries.