Sex, gender and sexuality are all part of our identity—how we see ourselves and how others see us. We are always learning more about how wonderful, complicated and diverse these parts of ourselves can be, for example:

  • our physical sex: bodies, hormones and genes. This is not limited to male and female, but can include elements of both at the same time
  • our gender: also not limited to identifying as a man or a woman. People may see themselves as either of these, as a combination of both, or may identify as neither
  • our sexuality: who we are attracted to, which is also more diverse than being straight or gay. We talk about gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer and asexual (GLBTIQA) people, but this list is growing all the time as people explore sexuality and alternative identities —and sometimes reject labels all together 

Our sex, gender and sexuality has a huge influence on our health and wellbeing, for example:

  • whether we feel comfortable in our own bodies 
  • if our rights, opportunities and expectations are limited because of our gender
  • how our family, friends and community accept our identity and sexuality

While many GLBTIQA people live full and satisfying lives, people who identify as gender and sexuality diverse are much more likely to experience mental health issues than other people, and are also at greater risk of suicide and self-harm. For many, there is a strong connection between mental health issues and experiences of trauma and discrimination, including:

  • trauma as a result of bullying, abuse and violence
  • poverty
  • not having the same rights as other people in terms of things like marriage, adoption or being legally recognised as next-of-kin for partners and children
  • prejudice within our community that leads to GLBTIQA people being devalued and excluded
  • not being able to access health services that are appropriate, knowledgeable and culturally competent in working with GLBTIQA people 

Exploring sexuality and gender identity can be an important part of recovery and wellbeing, although there may be real challenges for people in accepting their own identity and being accepted by others. Things that can help include:

  • having GLBTIQA friends who are emotionally supportive
  • finding supportive people in your life, such as family members, friends or workmates
  • being part of activities that give you a sense of belonging, in both GLBTIQA and mainstream communities
  • joining a social movement or group that promotes rights and equality for GLBTIQA people
  • finding a peer support program where you can meet people with similar experiences to yours
  • paying attention to physical and emotional wellbeing as part of a balanced lifestyle
  • finding the right mental health professional 

If you need to talk, call our Helpline.

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Remember, you are not alone. Hear stories from people who have been there.

For more information, please contact Wellways on 1300 111 400.