Our identity is our sense of ourselves, who we are and our character, culture, values, lifestyle and personality. Significant parts of our individual identity are our sexual identity and our gender identity. Our sexual identity is our sense of ourselves in regards to our sexuality, sexual behaviours, feelings and fantasies, and beliefs and values about sexuality or lack thereof. Our gender identity is our gender, gender role, and our beliefs and values about gender. Being same-gender attracted or gender diverse can mean that our sexual and gender identities are especially significant. When a part of your identity is marginalised and stigmatised in society, it can sometimes feel like it’s a bad part of us. But while it can be challenging, we are not bad or inferior. Being a bit different can make you a stronger and a more caring, respectful and open-minded person, which are fantastic qualities to have!
Things to Remember
It takes time to know who you are and being confused is a normal part of figuring it all out
Trust your feelings and talk about them with someone you trust
It’s okay to be yourself - however that feels right
Feeling attracted to the same gender is as natural as being attracted to a different gender, or not being attracted to anyone at all. Feeling confused about your gender or like you were assigned the wrong gender at birth is okay too. You are not alone; there are plenty of others who feel similar feelings to what you’re feeling.
Being different can be hard, but it can be more interesting and fun too!
Support is out there
Contact FC or check out our Support page for lists of places you can get support from if things are too confusing or difficult to deal with on your own.
Our sexuality is that part of us expressed through our sexual activities and relationships. It is represented in our feelings, behaviours and our sexual identity. A person’s sexual identity is how they choose to describe their sexuality. They may choose a label like gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, queer, asexual or many others.
Many people also choose not to label their sexuality. Everyone expresses their sexuality differently with various levels of diversity. Many people’s sexuality and sexual identity may change at different times of their lives.
“Sexuality is a central aspect of being human throughout life and encompasses sex, gender identities and roles, sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, intimacy and reproduction. Sexuality is experienced and expressed in thoughts, fantasies, desires, beliefs, attitudes, values, behaviours, practices, roles and relationships. While sexuality can include all of these dimensions, not all of them are always experienced or expressed. Sexuality is influenced by the interaction of biological, psychological, social, economic, political, cultural, ethical, legal, historical, religious and spiritual factors.”
Source: World Health Organization (WHO) Draft working definition, October 2002
Sexual diversity comes in many forms. Everyone is different in how they choose to express their sexuality. More and more these days, people will not define their sexuality with a label, but choose to ‘take it as it comes’ or ‘do what feels right at the time’, trusting their feelings and not letting labels determine their choices. Many people feel a label or name for their sexuality is useful in describing themselves to other people, others don’t. The important thing is to do whatever feels right for you (so long as no-one will be unsafe or at risk) and identify however feels comfortable for you. It’s okay to take your time figuring out what does feel right for you too. It’s okay to be unsure, and it’s normal to be confused while you’re figuring things out.
The following resources may also be interesting for you to check out:
Our romantic orientation is the part of us expressed through romantic feelings and relationships. For many, romantic and sexual feelings and relationships are closely linked, but for others, they’re very different things. For example, a person who identifies as asexual may still desire and enjoy romantic relationships, and may identify as homoromantic, heteroromantic, biromantic, or aromantic, among other identities. Individuals may or may not choose to use labels like this to define their romantic orientation – everyone is different.
A person’s gender (or lack thereof) can include how a person, thinks, feels, acts, dresses and speaks. A person’s gender can be masculine, feminine, both, androgynous, neutral and many other combinations. A person’s gender identity can be fluid or static and can vary in strength. Everyone expresses their gender differently with various levels of diversity.
Gender diversity comes in all forms; from transmen or trans women, to people who identify outside of the man-woman binary. Indeed, by simply being attracted to the same gender we are breaking society’s gender stereotypes and expectations, but this can be far more accepted and visible in society than what the trans community experience. At Freedom Centre we know that being trans or gender diverse is not easy so support and information are really needed
Within the trans community there is a colourful variety of gender identities and expressions. Some trans people will choose not to undergo surgery and hormone therapy, while many will only have hormones and/or top surgery (for example a bilateral mastectomy or breast enhancements) and others will undergo many different surgeries and therapies. People can undergo vocal training, and various surgeries (including phalloplasty, metaoidioplasty, vaginoplasty, labiaplasty, orchidectomy, facial reconstruction, hysterectomy – check out the site below for more info on these. (http://transhealth.phsa.ca/medical-options/surgeries ). Many people will change their name too, although some won’t and that’s OK too. For some people, hormones and/or surgery are not necessary for them to express their gender identity and for others these things may not be accessible.
What’s most important is that you do what feels right for you; not what others tell you is or isn’t OK. We often feel the pressures of society to either be male OR female, but it’s OK if you have characteristics of both or neither. Many people have both or neither masculine AND feminine traits, but we are taught to believe that we can only be one or the other. When you hear these sorts of messages and don’t feel you fit into them, it can be easy to think that you are not OK and that you are the only one that feels like that. But there are many people, especially in the LGBTIQ+ community who do not fit gender expectations in all sorts of ways, and there are many people who have transitioned and lead happy lives in their true gender.
At Freedom Centre, while people who are gender diverse are welcomed and appreciated in any session, we have a monthly session just for gender diverse, trans or genderqueer young people under 30 to come and hang out, be themselves in a safe space and talk about all things genderqueer! It’s called GenderQ; 1st Thursday of every month 5pm – 8pm at the Freedom Centre.
Intersex people are born with physical sex characteristics that don’t fit medical norms for female or male bodies. These characteristics can include chromosomes, hormones, and genitalia. Estimates of the prevalence of intersex people range from .05% to 1.7% of the population. There are many different intersex bodies and experiences, and intersex variations may become apparent before or at birth, during puberty, or in adulthood when trying to conceive. Some people may never realise they are intersex.
Intersex people can have the same range of sexuality and gender diversities as non-intersex people. For some people, their intersex variation is part of their identity, while for others it’s more of a body difference.
For more information about what it means to be intersex, visit Intersex Human Rights Australia.