Diverse sexuality, sex and gender (LGBTIQA+)

Sexuality, sex, and gender cover a broad spectrum and is different for everyone. Exploring your sexuality and gender is personal, and a normal part of self-discovery.

Understanding sexuality, sex and gender

Sexuality, sex, and gender can be complex and dynamic. It’s not as clear-cut as some people might think, and covers a broad spectrum.

‘The Gender Unicorn’ is a graphic designed by the Trans Student Educational Resources (TSER) organisation that can help us understand these concepts.

The Gender Unicorn

Here are some helpful definitions based on TSER's infographic:

  • Gender identity – One’s internal sense of being male, female, neither of these, both, or another gender(s). For transgender people, their sex assigned at birth and their own internal sense of gender identity are not the same.
  • Gender expression – The physical manifestation of one’s gender identity through clothing, hairstyle, voice, body shape, etc.
  • Sex assigned at birth – The assignment and classification people as male, female, intersex, or another sex based on a combination of anatomy, hormones, chromosomes.
  • Physical attraction – Characteristics of a person that you are physically or sexually attracted to.
  • Emotional attraction – Characteristics of a person that you are emotionally or romantically attracted to.

ReachOut.com also have articles to learn more about:

headspace also has resources on understanding what LGBTIQA+ means, your sexuality, and gender identity.

As you’ll read, some people find terminology helpful to identify their sexuality or gender identity, whereas others may not like or identify with these terms, and that’s ok too. There’s no right or wrong way to be you, and you don’t have to fit in a label. Your identity is yours – it’s completely up to you to decide how you want to describe it, what it means for your life, and who you want to share it with.

Questioning your sexuality or gender identity?

Understanding the sexual feelings and attractions we have towards others, and the gender we identify with and express, is a personal journey.

It can take time to figure out what fits right with you. Know that you don’t need to decide or do anything straight away. You can take as much time as you need to clarify what these feelings mean for your identity and your future.

In the meantime, it can help to:

  • Explore online resources to understand more about sexuality and gender, like at ReachOut.com or Minus18. We've also included a list of more resources below.
  • Hear other people's experiences discovering their sexuality and gender via online forums or videos. See below for more options to feel more connected to the community.
  • Read books or watch movies that explore and celebrate the lives of LGBTIQA+ people.
  • Talk to someone you trust if you feel ready and safe to share where you're at. Learn more about coming out and inviting in, and tips on how to have the conversation.

At the end of the day, remember that no matter what gender you identify with, or who you’re attracted to, you are a worthy human being just as you are.

Dealing with bullying or discrimination

It’s never ok for someone to harass, or make you feel ‘less than’ or bad about your sexuality or gender. Facing prejudice or exclusion because of your sexuality or gender identity can affect your wellbeing.

You don’t need to manage discrimination, poor treatment from others, or other negative experiences on your own. Seek support from a trusted friend or family member, or outside support if you’re still finding it hard to cope.

Your experience of your sexuality, sex or gender is valid and will be respected by the counsellors at Counselling and Psychological Services. We acknowledge there are a range of unique challenges that LGBTIQA+ people face that can affect their mental health and wellbeing, and we provide specialist counselling for LGBTIQA+ students and staff.

Further support

  • LGBTIQA+ counselling services
    • Mind Equality Centre - Psychological services for sexually and gender diverse people including occupational therapy; individual, couples, group, and family relationship counselling; and sex therapy.
    • Switchboard Victoria - National telephone and web counselling, information, and referral service for LGBTQI identifying people or families, friends, teachers, and co-workers of LGBTQI people.
    • 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.
  • LGBTIQA+ friendly GP clinics and health services
    • 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.
    • Northside Clinic - LGBTIQ+ oriented general practice and sexual health clinic in Fitzroy North.
    • Prahran Market Clinic - General medical practice in Prahran with particular focus on gay, lesbian, and gender diverse health.
    • The Centre Clinic - General medical practice in St Kilda providing general health care for LGBTI community.
    • Touchbase - Information, support, and services for LGBTI people for alcohol and drugs, mental health, and sexual health.
    • Turn the Corner Medical Clinic - General medical practice in Northcote 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.
    • Rainbow Families - Community organisation for rainbow families.
    • Transcend - Parent-led support network and information hub for transgender children and their families.
  • Transgender
    • Equinox - Specifically trans and gender diverse health clinic located in Fitzroy providing GP services, HRT management, sexual health, and counselling.
    • Seahorse Victoria - Support and social group for the Victorian transgender community.
    • Transgender Victoria - Information and resources for the Victorian transgender community.
    • YGender - Peer-led social support and advocacy group for trans/gender diverse young people.
  • 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 - 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.

  • Community networking
    • Black Rainbow - Supports the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander lesbian, gay, bisexual, sistergirl & brotherboy, and queer community.
    • Joy 94.9 - Australia's only 24/7 LGBTIQ radio station.
    • LGBTIQ Multicultural Directory - List of multicultural LGBTIQ services and supports.
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • Social activities
    • Globe - Not-for-profit community group that encourages diversity and inclusiveness.
    • Lesbian Wine Club - Social group for women who share a common interest in enjoying and learning about wine.
    • Melbourne Gay and Lesbian Chorus - Australia's longest running LGBTIQ+ choir.
    • Queer Book Club - Read and discuss all manner of books with LGBTIQ characters and themes.
    • Queer Club - A fantastic way to meet new friends, try something different, have fun, and get involved in the queer community.
    • Queer Culture Vultures - Social group who love seeing shows, theatre, films, musicals, concerts, and plays.
  • Sport

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

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