Gender and sexuality

Sex and Gender are not interchangeable words. In fact, sex refers to the physical differences between males and females, for example, your reproductive system. On the other hand, gender refers to the social and cultural associations towards a persons' sex, for instance, that men shouldn't show emotion. Another term used frequently is gender identity. This refers to whether a person identifies with their sex at birth. The cultural associations and stigma surrounding your gender can mean that it is difficult to talk about your sexual identity with others and also leads to sexism and harassment in the workplace.

What issues may you be facing?

  • Coming to terms with identifying as LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transsexual)
  • Discrimination, bulling, violence or emotional distress causes by your gender identity
  • You may feel rejected or isolated from your friends and family
  • You may be struggling with 'coming out' and speaking to loved ones about how you're feeling
  • You may feel confused or uncomfortable in your gender at birth

Steps for support

  • You could contact Switchboard LGBT+ helpline. This is a telephone service giving support advice to young people who may be confused about their sexuality. Helpline: 0300 330 0630 (lines open 10am to 10pm)
  • You can contact the NHS for advice about sex. Helpline: 0300 123 29 30 (lines open Monday – Friday 2pm – 8pm, weekends 2pm – 4pm)
  • Take a look at this website run by stonewall. It provides great advice and help for a range of lgbt issues and also has information on upcoming events in your area.
  • If your are struggling with abuse emotional distress, depression or bulling as a result of sexual identity, sex help through Papyrus -  0800 068 41 41. The helpline gives support dealing with mental health issues.
  • Try joining an LGBT society within university. This is a great way to meet like-minded individuals and get support and advice from students like you. Click here and here for more information

Useful resources

  • If you are struggling with transgender issues, you could contact Gendered Intelligence. Their website aims to increase understanding of gender diversity and specialises in supporting young trans people aged 11-25.
  • If your struggling to find the confidence to come out to your family or friends, see RUComingOut - LGBT coming out support charity. Their website details some inspiring stories from those who have come out, which can be used to help you find the confidence to speak out to family, friends and colleagues.
  • To find out more information and get support regarding gender identity issues, see Gender Shift. Information about gender identity and sexual orientation.
  • If you want to understand more about gender identity, you could try reading 'You and your gender identity' by Dara Hoffman. This book provides information to help you to find answers on your gender identity issues.
  • There is also an interesting Ted Talk by Rikki Arundel on 'Why gender identity is so important'    
  • Read the University of Glasgow's equality policy or specific information on student life as an lgbt student here                                     

Contact Information

  • If you need someone to talk to you, call the Glasgow University Nightline service which is a confidential telephone support and information service run for students, by trained student volunteers run by the Glasgow University SRC.  Available every night of term from 7pm till 7am contact them on +44 (0)141 334 9516.
  • Or a peer supporter if you would prefer to work things through with a fellow student:  Peer supporters are students who will listen to your issues and help you to work through your feelings. Find out more -   
  • See the student representative council advice centre for help on where to look for support - John McIntyre Building, University Avenue Glasgow G12 8QQ, Tel: 0141 330 5360, Email:
  • University of Glasgow Crisis Team. If a you have experienced any form of assault or violence or are feeling suicidal as a result of gender identity issues please contact the Student Crisis Team: Available 24/7 via Security, Gilmorehill: 4444  (0141 330 4444), Garscube: 2222  (0141 330 2222), Off campus: +44 (0)141 330 4444
  • If you want to talk things through with a professional, speak to the Counselling and Psychological Services - 67 Southpark Avenue Glasgow G12 8LE Tel: 0141 330 4528, Email: