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  • Writer's pictureWill Dempsey

Is It Normal To Feel A Gender Identity Crisis As An Adult?

Most people think of a gender identity crisis as something that children and teenagers experience, but the truth is far more complex. Our gender identity can evolve and change over time — and a wide variety of factors can trigger a crisis. While we associate gender identity crises as being the domain of trans and  gender nonconforming individuals, it’s something anyone can experience.

In today’s post, we’ll explore what it means to experience a gender identity crisis and the triggers that might cause one.

What is Gender Identity?

We all have an innate sense of what it means to be a man or woman — and those ideas may vary from person to person. Where gender expression is how we present ourselves to the world, gender identity is fundamentally internal. It is our sense of where we exist along the gender spectrum: man, woman, both, neither, or something fluid.

Accordingly, a gender identity crisis is an inflection point at which we question whether our assigned gender accurately describes us. It’s the start of an inward journey, an exploration of who we are and what our gender means to us. For some, this can include an intense sense of dysphoria or feeling like our body does not match our internal sense of who we are; for others, the change is more subtle.

Triggers for a Gender Identity Crisis

Arguably, the most common trigger for a gender identity crisis is puberty. Still, several milestones throughout life can trigger a sense of misalignment between one’s internal gender identity and social expectations. Some of the more common triggers include:

Exposure to Gender Diversity

Many of us don’t have the language to express or understand our own gender identity until we encounter more diverse communities and other gender-nonconforming individuals. Coming into contact with new ideas or perspectives on gender identity can cause us to reevaluate our own identities.

Relationships & Milestones

Romantic entanglements, marriage, and other major life milestones can cause us to reevaluate our gender identity. We may begin to chafe at societal expectations and the way people in our lives view us.

Medical Issues

A serious medical event or crisis can be a significant trigger for a gender identity crisis. Our bodies change throughout our lives. Fluctuations in hormones can cause outward changes in our appearance that can result in dysphoria or euphoria. Even cis folks whose gender and birth sex have matched throughout their lives can experience a crisis when their bodies begin to change in ways that bring them out of alignment — weight gain, hair loss, and so forth.

Navigating a Gender Identity Crisis

It’s perfectly normal for adults to feel a gender identity crisis at some point in their lives. While such a crisis may shake you, consider it a call to adventure. A gender identity crisis signals an internal recalibration of your gender identity. This is a journey inward to better understand how you see yourself and wish to be seen by others. These are feelings to be processed and understood. While this process might seem scary at first blush, most people come out the other end feeling more in tune with themselves and their bodies. What starts as a crisis often develops into a celebration.

Schedule a Consultation

Navigating a gender identity crisis is complex and sometimes frightening — but it isn’t something you have to do alone. Now more than ever, there is a wide variety of vibrant, accepting, gender-diverse communities where you can be yourself. In my practice, I’ve helped countless people by providing them with a safe space to unpack their thoughts and explore what gender means to them. Reach out today to schedule a free consultation to discuss how to tackle this adventure through LGBTQIA therapy.

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