For starters, someone’s own gender identity is a process that may come naturally to some, though for others it may not be as easy. Whether it be exploring your own gender identity, sexual orientation, or even just working through your own curiosities, everyone should have a support system to help them along the way. Here we will discuss LGBTQIA+, the different sexual orientations, gender identities, as well as how seeking therapy can support you in this process.
Firstly, here are gender definitions to become familiar with:
● Gender Expression – the outwards expression of gender, typically expressed/observed through people’s names, pronouns, clothing, behaviors, body characteristics, and more.
● Gender Identity – invisible to other people, one’s internal definition of their own gender. Some people may feel comfortable with the gender that they are given at birth, though others may not.
● Sex – oftentimes confused with one’s gender, but someone’s sex identity is more-so biological than anything else. Someone’s sex is the combination of body characteristics (hormones, chromosomes, reproductive organs, etc.), thus being more than just two sexes.
There is a wide range of gender identities that people fall under and identify with. It is crucial to validate the feelings of someone who may be uncomfortable with their gender identity, as it is a significant life event that causes stress. Whether you already know your own gender identity, or if you are currently exploring that area of your life, seeking support can be helpful!
Secondly, here are some LGBTQIA+ sexual orientations:
● Asexual – someone who experiences minimal to no sexual attraction, though may still experience romantic attraction.
● Bisexual – someone who experiences an attraction to others of the same gender as well as people of another gender.
● Gay – someone, typically a male, who experiences attraction to someone else of the same gender.
● Lesbian – a woman who is attracted to another woman, ‘lesbian’ and ‘gay’ are sometimes interchangeable.
● Pansexual – someone who experiences an attraction towards another person regardless of their gender
● Queer – an umbrella term for anyone who does not identify as heterosexual or cisgendered.
Even though these are just a few definitions, there are many more sexual orientations that people feel attached to. Some people may question why there is a need for so many orientations or why there is a necessity to bring about awareness to this subject. However, it is so crucial to spread the word and to educate on these matters to increase the inclusivity of this community. Many people find plenty of comfort in connecting with one of the above, or many other, sexual orientations. Something as simple as “putting a label” to what one may be feeling can offer a sense of freedom as well as offer someone answers they didn’t have before.
Walking on the path of self-discovery at any stage of life can become too much for some to handle at times. Seeking mental health treatment is a great way to support yourself on this journey. Historically, the LGBTQIA+ community has faced discrimination as well as prejudice which is why our mission here at Suffolk Family Therapy is to be a guide for those who may need it. We believe that therapy should be a place of comfort and safety, therefore we will do our best to ensure that we offer the best support that we can. There’s no reason to change who you are, only a reason to find out who you truly are on the inside!