Gender and Sexual Diversity

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In this section you will find information about Sexual Identity, Gender, Coming Out and Organisations you can contact for Support, Advice and Guidance.

Sexual Identity

Sexuality and sexual orientation is about who you are physically and emotionally attracted to. Everyone is different, and sometimes understanding your sexuality can be confusing.

5 things to remember about your sexuality:

  1. Sexuality isn’t a choice.
  2. It takes different people different amounts of time to understand their sexuality.
  3. ‘Coming Out’ can be a tough experience but it can often get easier as you start to tell more people.
  4. There are lots of different types of sexuality.
  5. Sexuality can change over time – this is OK.

Check out this video by Childline discussing stereotypes about Sexual Identity:

It might take some time to work out what your sexual orientation is. Remember there’s no such thing as normal. And you don’t have to feel pressured or rushed to give yourself a label.

There are many different types of sexuality. Some of the more common terms to describe sexuality include:

  • Aromantic. Not feeling romantically attracted to anyone.
  • Asexual. Not feeling sexually attracted to anyone.
  • Bisexual. Feeling emotionally and physically attracted to both sexes.
  • Demisexual. Someone who doesn’t have any sexual attraction unless they have a strong emotional connection with someone first.
  • Gay. Feeling emotionally and physically attracted to people of the same sex.
  • Lesbian. Girls who are emotionally and physically attracted to other girls.
  • Pansexual. Feeling emotionally and physically attracted to people of any gender or sexual orientation. This includes transgender and non-binary people.
  • Queer. Once used as an insult, many Sexually Diverse people have reclaimed the term as a celebration of not fitting into social norms.
  • Straight. Feeling emotionally and physically attracted to people of the opposite sex.

For more information about diverse sexuality you can visit the following organisations: Childline, LGBT Foundation, and FFLAG.

Gender

A person’s gender identity is how they choose to define their gender, whether that be male, female or other.

Some people feel they are assigned the wrong gender at birth and decide to transition from one gender to another (Trans*). Others don’t identify as either male or female, and this is classified as being non-binary. Sometimes people might feel both male and female, or they might feel like they’re neither.

Check out this video by Mermaids UK from the #IKnowWhoIAm campaign:

A person may not want to transition fully to the opposite gender but may choose to just express their gender in a different way. The Genderbread Person is a really good example of the difference between biological sex, identity and expression.

The following organisations can provide you with more information on Trans* issues and offer support, advice and guidance: Mermaids UK, The Beaumont Society, and Youth Cymru’s Trans*form Project.

Coming Out

When a person is ready they may choose to tell people about their sexuality and/or gender identity, this is called: ‘Coming Out’. It can be an emotional and turbulent time in a person’s life as they may feel worried, anxious or scared about how their friends and family will react and treat them.

Check out this video by Childline discussing the journey of Coming Out:

Telling someone about your gender or sexuality doesn’t just happen once. You could ‘Come Out’ to lots of different people at different times. Or you might not want to come out to anyone.

Coming Out can help you to feel less isolated and more accepted, but it’s important to be ready. There’s no right or wrong time to Come Out to someone about your sexuality or gender identity. Only you can say when it is the right time to Come Out.

How you come out is your choice. Planning what to do can help you to figure out what’s best for you and feel more confident. It can help to think about:

  • Who to tell. Try telling someone you trust first to see how you feel. This could be a friend, family member, or a trusted adult.
  • How to bring it up. You might want to try talking about LGBTQ+ people on TV, social media or in the news to see how someone reacts.
  • When to do it. Find a time when you can talk privately and you won’t be distracted or disturbed. You can also think about what you can do afterwards.

There are lots of things you can do to help yourself feel more prepared:

  • Practice what you’ll say. Write down what you’d like to say or practice in front of a mirror until you’re ready.
  • Think about what you might be asked. People might have questions when you come out, go over what you might be asked but remember that you don’t have to answer anything you don’t want to.
  • Say whether they can tell anyone else. Decide whether you’re okay with the person you come out to telling other people. And think about whether there’s anyone they definitely shouldn’t tell.
  • Prepare for different reactions. If someone isn’t expecting you to come out they might not know how to react right away. It can help to think about what you want to do if they do react in a way you weren’t expecting.

Coming Out is something to feel proud of. But it can also be difficult to know what to do next. If you’re confused or worried after coming out, try:

  • Talking about it. Whatever happens when you come out, it can help to talk. This could be a friend, family member, or a trusted adult.
  • Giving it time. Even if someone doesn’t know how to react at first, they might still be able to support you later.
  • Distracting yourself. Doing something you enjoy or keeping yourself busy can help you to feel less anxious.
  • Celebrating. You’ve done a brave and brilliant thing, you could celebrate with other people or spend some time by yourself. Do whatever makes you feel happy and comfortable.

Every year on October 11th we celebrate National Coming Out Day which helps raise awareness globally about the challenges LGBT+ people still face, but we also celebrate how LGBT people have shaped history by being themselves.

For more information on coming out, you can check out these organisations: Childline, Stonewall, and Coming Out UK.

Support Available

LGBT+ people often need more protection as a minority group due to discrimination and prejudice known as Homophobia (also see Biphobia and Transphobia), this is “The fear or dislike of someone, based on prejudice or negative attitudes, beliefs or views about lesbian, gay or bi people”.

In the UK, we have laws that protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination – predominantly the Equality Act 2010. This covers everyone who has a protected characteristic from discrimination. There are seven protected characteristics:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Disability
  • Gender Identity
  • Race
  • Religion or Faith

There are also laws to protect people in work, at home and in the provision of goods and services. For example, it is illegal to fire someone for being Gay, to refuse to rent a flat to a Lesbian couple or to not sell someone something because they are Trans.

The RCT Youth Engagement and Participation Service is committed to Equality and Diversity and creating safe spaces across all of our provision for young people no matter who they are or what they believe. We are working across schools and the Education service with Stonewall to increase awareness of LGBTQ+ issues, provide more quality support to young people, signpost to reliable, up-to-date information, and to empower young people from minority groups such as the LGBTQ+ community more to use their voices.

Check out this video from Childline where they discuss homophobia:

If you are struggling with bullying, coming to terms with your sexuality, or have been a victim of Hate then you can contact Stonewall’s Information Line on 08000 50 20 20 for FREE, confidential advice. Remember, in an emergency always contact 999 or for a non-emergency you can contact the emergency services on 101.

Here is a list of services that can offer information, advice and support for Gender and Sexual Diversity Issues:

StonewallStonewall campaigns for the equality of lesbian, gay, bi and trans people across Britain.

Mermaids UK – Family and individual support for gender diverse and transgender children and young people.

Childline – Get help and advice about a wide range of issues, call us on 0800 1111, talk to a counsellor online, send Childline an email or post on the message boards.

Umbrella Cymru – Gender and Sexual Diversity Support Specialists in Wales.

The Beaumont SocietyThe Beaumont Society is a national self help body run by and for the transgender community.

Trans*Form CymruTrans*Form Cymru empowers and supports trans young people to access their rights.

Pride Cymru – Celebrating and promoting LGBTQ+ equality & diversity! #ProudToBeMe

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