Assigned sex at birth, gender identities and sexual orientation are all parts of our identity, which may play a role in how we see ourselves and how others see us.
Physical sex: This includes biology, chromosomes, hormones, and genes. People are usually assigned male at birth (AMAB), assigned female at birth (AFAB) or have intersex variations and traits.
Gender identity: Our sense of self (i.e., who we are at the core) regarding gender. This includes (but is not limited to) man, woman, non-binary, agender, genderqueer and gender fluid.
Gender expression: How we express ourselves and/or our gender regarding masculinity, androgyny, femininity or other.
Sexual orientation: Who we are attracted to romantically and/or sexually. This includes (but is not limited to) being straight, gay, bisexual, pansexual and asexual.
Language and terminology used to describe our experiences and identities may be fluid and change overtime as we learn about who we are, and this is a very natural part of the LGBTIQA+ journey. Sometimes, we may not feel comfortable with any identity label(s) or are unsure of how to put our experiences into words, and that’s okay. Regardless of whether we have the language to describe our experiences, all of it is valid; labels do not define or determine the validity of our experiences.
While many LGBTIQA+ people live happy and fulfilling lives, members of this community are more likely to experience poorer mental health outcomes compared to non-LGBTIQA+ people and have higher risks of self-harm and suicide. It’s important to acknowledge that within the LGBTIQA+ community itself, the wellbeing outcomes of people of different identities (e.g. transgender, gender diverse, bisexual, asexual, queer and more) vary. Our identity and experiences surrounding identity may have an influence on our health and wellbeing. For example:
- how accessible, friendly, and inclusive services are (e.g., medical clinics, mental health support)
- experiences of judgment, prejudice, and discrimination from people who are not LGBTIQA+, or within the LGBTIQA+ community itself
- experiences of trauma, bullying, abuse and/or violence
- whether we feel safe and comfortable to express and be ourselves
- whether our friends, family and communities accept and support our identities or not
- our rights and access to opportunities
- pressure and expectations to be cisgender and/or straight; to “fit into” the expected boxes
- whether we have access to language to describe our lived experiences and identities
- experiences of ‘gatekeeping’; having to “prove” identity before being allowed to access some services and support needs
- feeling isolated and disconnected from the community
- for trans and gender diverse people, challenges include: being unable to access gender-affirming medical transition support, not being legally recognised as their gender, navigating the social world in our trans identity, and experiences of being misgendered and/or deadnamed.
Things that may support LGBTIQA+ people include:
- connecting with other LGBTIQA+ peers
- Reaching out to LGBTIQA+ specific support services
- attending LGBTIQA+ peer workshops and/or social groups
- having our voices and stories heard and amplified
- connecting with LGBTIQA+ friendly and affirming mental health professionals
- for trans and gender diverse people, gender-affirming social and/or medical transitioning
- having safe, inclusive, and affirming spaces to express and be ourselves without fear of judgment or discrimination.
Steps everyone can take to be allies to and support the LGBTIQA+ community:
- asking people for pronouns instead of making assumptions
- introducing our pronouns with our name to ‘normalise’ the practice
- being mindful of assumptions about people’s gender identity and sexuality, and how this may reinforce unhelpful or incorrect ideas
- being respectful of the questions we ask LGBTIQA+ people
- calling out misgendering and/or deadnaming to trans and gender diverse people
- standing up against prejudice, discrimination, bullying and violence
- being mindful of confidentiality and not ‘outing’ people
- continuing to learn about LGBTIQA+ experiences and finding ways to support the community.
If you need to talk, call our Helpline.
Learn more about:
- the importance of identity and belonging
- mental illness
- causes and contributing factors
- what helps
- support for families, friends and carers
- our peer education programs
- our community education programs
- our research on community inclusion
Remember, you are not alone. Hear stories from people who have been there.
For more information, please contact Wellways on 1300 111 400.