Diverse sexuality, sex and gender (LGBTIQA+)

Sexuality, sex and gender can be complex and dynamic. While there is increasing acceptance of people of diverse sexuality and gender, many people still experience homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.

These forms of discrimination can be difficult to manage without support, which can help you to discover and value your own uniqueness.

Sexuality

Heterosexuality is not more normal than other sexualities, it’s just more common.

It is normal to be attracted to women, men, no-one, other diverse genders or just to people in general regardless of their gender.  Some people find it useful to identify with a label that fits for them, such as queer, pansexual, bisexual, lesbian, gay, heteroflexible, demisexual, fluid, asexual, polyamorous, or many other words that are emerging as people try to capture their unique experience of sexuality in language.  Other people just identify as not straight, or choose not to label their sexuality at all.  A person’s experience of their own sexual orientation can change over time.  You may have been attracted to people of the opposite sex and then found yourself attracted to someone of the same sex or someone with a diverse gender identity.

Gender

Sometimes the sex you were assigned at birth is not the same as your gender identity.

Some people find that their gender identity and way of expressing their gender doesn’t fit into society’s expectations about gender being binary, while others feel very clearly male or female.  Some people find the umbrella term transgender (or trans) helpful in identifying as part of the trans community, and there are many other words such as genderqueer and genderfluid, which describe non-binary gender identities.  Some gender diverse people access hormones or surgery to change their bodies to be more aligned with their gender identity, and many do not medically transition for different personal reasons.

Physiological sex can also be less binary than expected, as intersex people have anatomical, hormonal, or chromosomal characteristics that don’t align with medical expectations for male and female bodies.

How we can help

Your subjective experience of your sexuality, sex or gender is valid and will be respected by the counsellors at Melbourne University Counselling and Psychological Services. We acknowledge there are a wide range of unique challenges facing people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or transsexual, intersex, queer or questioning (LGBTIQA+), or gender diverse, and we provide specialist counselling for LGBTIQA+ students and staff.

Further support

LGBTIQA+ counselling services

  • QLife/Switchboard: A national 24/7 phone counselling service.
  • Queerspace: Family support agency that provides counselling and support to LGBTIQA+ people and their families.
  • Thorne Harbour Health: Counselling, peer, and community support for the local LGBTIQA+ community in the areas of HIV, trans and gender diverse health, mental health, alcohol and other drugs, and relationship and family violence.
  • Mind Equality Centre: Psychological services for sexually and gender diverse people including occupational therapy; individual, couples, group, and family relationship counselling; and sex therapy.

LGBTIQA+ friendly GP clinics and health services

  • Northside Clinic: LGBTIQ+ oriented general practice and sexual health clinic in Fitzroy North.
  • Prahran Market Clinic: A general medical practice in Prahran with particular focus on gay, lesbian, and gender diverse health.
  • The Centre Clinic: A general medical practice in St Kilda providing general health care for LGBTI community.
  • DocLIST: Online list of doctors and mental health professionals recommended by lesbian and bisexual women in Australia.
  • Equinox: Specifically trans and gender diverse health clinic located in Fitzroy providing GP services, Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) management, sexual health, and counselling.
  • Touchbase: Information, support, and services for LGBTI people for alcohol and drugs, mental health, and sexual health.
  • Turn the Corner Medical Clinic: A general medical practice in Northcote that is committed to providing an environment that is safe and inclusive for LGBTIQA+ people.

LGBTIQA+ support for families

  • PFLAG Australia: Support group and advocacy for parents and allies of the LGBTIQ community.
  • Transcend: Parent-led support network and information hub for transgender children and their families.
  • Rainbow Families: A community organisation for rainbow families.

Transgender

  • Transgender Victoria: Information and resources for the Victorian transgender community.
  • YGender: A peer-led social support and advocacy group for trans/gender diverse young people.
  • Seahorse Victoria: Support and social group for the Victorian transgender community.
  • Equinox: Specifically trans and gender diverse health clinic located in Fitzroy providing GP services, HRT management, sexual health, and counselling.

Intersex

  • Intersex Human Rights Australia: Support, education and policy development for people with intersex variations or traits focusing on human rights, bodily autonomy and self-determination, and on evidence-based, patient-directed healthcare.

Bisexual

  • Bi-alliance Victoria: A non-profit volunteer-run organisation dedicated to promoting the acceptance of bisexuals in LGBTI and mainstream society.

Things to do to feel connected

Becoming part of an LGBTIQA+ community can be an important step in building a support network and making lasting social connections with people who understand issues specific to LGBTIQA+ people. The UMSU Queer Department can help in providing advice and a safe place, along with local support groups and resources listed below.

  • Black Rainbow - Supports the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander lesbian, gay, bisexual, sistergirl & brotherboy, and queer community.
  • Rainbow Network - Community organisations discussing LGBTIQ issues.
  • LGBTIQ Multicultural Directory - List of multicultural LGBTIQ services and supports
  • Joy 94.9 - Australia's only 24/7 LGBTIQ radio station.
  • Star Observer/Star online - The latest in LGBTIQ news from around Australia.
  • Victorian Pride Centre - Online directory for resources and LGBTIQ+ support groups in Victoria.
  • Queers in Science - Melbourne-based initiative aiming to build community and improve support for LGBTIQA+ people working in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine) in Australia.

If you'd like more support, come along to one of our workshops or make an appointment for individual counselling.

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