Sexuality & Gender
What Is It?
A person’s sexual orientation describes who they are sexually and emotionally attracted to, whether or not they are sexually active. Somebody’s biological sex refers to the sexual anatomy that they were born with. Gender identity refers to the where an individual feels most comfortable in regards to their own self-concept, this can mean being on a spectrum of masculinity, femininity and viewing yourself as an individual. Sexual orientation, biological sex and gender are completely independent from one another and some argue that ‘gender’ is just an idea we have developed in our culture that does not really mean anything.
Diversity in identity has developed a cultural group often referred to as LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Questioning and all other identities) in the hope of trying to fit all the different identities people have. The world is becoming more aware that you cannot be ‘boxed’ into a category of whom you are attracted to or how you identify. Some people can experience pressure from others (e.g. family, friends) that they should be attracted to a certain sex or behave in a certain way.
Often people feel comfortable that their gender and their biological sex are the same, for others these do not match. Gender Dysphoria can be described as difference between your gender and how you feel ‘inside’. If you feel this way you might feel really uncomfortable with your body parts and really wish that they were of the opposite sex or different in some way. For other people they may feel comfortable with their body but the idea of ‘gender’ is uncomfortable and they also do not want to feel ‘boxed’ that they have to behave, dress or feel in a way dictated by what is expected from their biological sex, they may identify as ‘trans’, ‘non-binary’ or ‘trans-flux’.
What Might Help?
- Talk to someone you can trust: If and when you feel ready it might be really helpful to talk to someone about your feelings, so you are not keeping such a big ‘secret’ to yourself.
- Don’t pressure yourself to pick a label: Although some people want a label of their sexuality or gender, there is no pressure that you need to know or decide. This is something personal for you to understand and talk about in your own time.
- Seek professional help: if your sexuality and/or gender is causing you distress, you may need extra support from someone trained to help, this might include talking to an ‘LGBTQ+ affirmative therapist’. There is no therapy that is proven to help someone change their mental sexuality or gender, talking to someone to learn to understand / accept your thoughts and feelings can help.
Useful Clips and Stories:
- A good overview from of Gender NHS Choices here
- LGBT foundation website
- x2y, a registered LGBT charity based in Wolverhampton