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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Overview of gender identity in young people

Tirohanga whānui ki te tuakiri ā-ira ki ngā tamariki me taiohi

It's normal for tamariki (children) to explore ways of expressing their gender. Some tamariki are aware of their gender identity from an early age. Others may take time to figure it out. It's important for parents, guardians, and whānau (family) to allow their tamariki and rangatahi (young people) to explore their identity. It's also important to make sure they feel loved and accepted as they develop.

If your tamaiti (child) is exploring their gender identity or tells you they're a different gender than the one you expected, it's normal to feel confused. It's also normal to have mixed feelings. Take time to listen to your tamaiti and learn. Reach out for support and look after yourself. Learn as much as you can so you can best support your tamaiti.

See Gender identity resources for whānau for advice for whānau of tamariki who are exploring their gender or identify as gender diverse. The resources include practical ways to support your tamaiti and tips for talking to schools or whānau members.

See Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand for advice on how to support your tamaiti.

The resources below can help you explore concepts of gender identity and gender expression with your tamariki and rangatahi. They can also help you discuss them with whānau and friends.

Your tamaiti and your whānau aren't alone. There is a lot of support. See Support networks for transgender & gender diverse people & their whānau for groups and organisations that can connect you to other whānau and help you and your tamaiti.

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Written by Ko Awatea gender-affirming care co-design group. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed March 2023.

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Page reference: 615620

Review key: HISOG-53214