Questioning your Sexuality or Gender Identity
Whether you are exploring your gender/sexuality, feel certain of your gender/sexuality, or are figuring out what aspects of that you do/don’t want to share:conversations and concerns regarding these topics can feel confusing, intimidating, or anxiety-inducing.
If there are words used in this post that you are not familiar with, some useful resources with definitions for some common terms regarding LGBTQIA+ vocabulary are below:
Regarding gender, sexuality, gender expression, sex assigned at birth, and physical/emotional attraction: https://transstudent.org/gender/
Regarding different gender identities: The Trevor Project
Regarding a general list of LGBTQIA+ terms: Flo.Health
*Please note, some terms are or may become outdated as language continues to evolve. Some terms at the links above may be outdated, or they may be terms that people in the LGBT+ community prefer that only other members of the community use.
If you are questioning your gender or sexuality and are hoping to explore how different labels apply to you, know that you are not alone! Especially if you grew up being taught that being anything other than heterosexual and cisgender (postively identifying as the gender that is commonly associated with the sex you were assigned at birth) is an innately negative thing, it can feel scary or even wrong to be questioning those aspects of yourself. Your sexuality and gender identity do not define your worth, and there is a whole community of people ready to accept you if you are feeling like the labels “heterosexual/straight” or “cisgender” do not apply to you.
Seeking Guidance from a Professional
Especially if you are feeling alone, finding a therapist to talk to about exploring your gender or sexuality might be helpful. Here at Beacon of Change, we offer accepting and knowledgeable therapy to folks who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community. However, we are not the only ones accepting new clients that might be a good fit for you. PsychologyToday.com is one resource where you can search for therapists that are near you. You can use their filters to search for therapists who offer therapy related to gender and sexuality. Finding an inclusive and LGBT-knowledgeable sex therapist (as opposed to a typical talk therapist) may also be an option for you, especially if you are seeking therapy related to how your gender or sexuality plays a role in your romantic relationships or sexual self. Inclusivetherapists.com is another resource where you can search for a therapist that is a knowledgeable and safe option when it comes to these topics.
Outside of talking to a professional about your gender and/or sexual identities, it can still feel like you are on this journey alone. Finding others with similar journeys to yours can help you feel less alone, even if you end up going on this “questioning” journey and come to the conclusion that you are not part of the LGBTQIA+ community after all. It is okay to do exploring related to your gender or sexuality, no matter the outcome. Talking to other people who are part of the community can help you feel safer, and (given that you ask for permission first), you can ask them questions or for advice if you are feeling like you need guidance from someone who is part of the community or specifically is part of the identity/label that you are exploring. However, you will also find that some folks in the community choose to abstain from labels altogether, and it is okay for you to do that, too.
Some ways that you can find community with others if you are questioning your gender/sexuality are:
By viewing/participating in online communities on social media platforms such as Q Chat Space or TrevorSpace, that are specifically curated for LGBT+ folks, or using platforms like Scarleteen, Reddit, Discord, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to search for LGBT+ groups/topics.
Attending community meetings/events such as PFLAG meetings, Pride Parades, or searching Meetup for events near you for LGBTQIA+ community members
If you are currently going to school, you can check if they have an LGBT+ student group that you can join or observe
*Unfortunately, in online spaces (and also in-person spaces), bullying can be a risk, particularly for members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Always make sure you are following Community Guidelines established by each group/platform, and use your best judgment when it comes to interacting safely with others online, and especially when meeting an in-person group.
Learn about Gender and Sexuality to Learn About Yourself
Lastly, doing research about gender and sexuality can help you learn more about what applies to you, what doesn’t, and what piques your interest the most. Alongside learning from other members of the LGBT+ community, there are many resources for you to gain knowledge about the different identities that are out there for you to explore! Gender Doula is a great resource to examine if you are hoping to focus your learning on gender and gender expression. Looking online for books about queer history, biographies/memoirs written by LGBT+ members, fictional stories about LGBT+ characters, and similar subjects could all help you learn more about yourself. No matter where the journey leads you, gaining knowledge can help arm you with a new confidence in your identity that you did not have before.
It can be overwhelming to be questioning a part of your sexuality or gender identity. Always remember that your worth is not determined by your gender or sexuality (including if you do “exploring” and find out that you’re not an LGBT+ member after all), and that you are not alone on your journey. It takes courage and strength to do the work that is self-discovery!