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Info Pages

Identity

Identity

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 & fantasies, and beliefs & 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 & 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 OK to be yourself -however that feels right

  • Feeling attracted to the same gender is as natural as being attracted to the opposite gender. Feeling confused about your gender or like you were assigned the wrong gender at birth is ok 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 Mental Health and Support info pages for lists of places you can get support from if things are too confusing or difficult to deal with on your own.

 

Sexuality

Our sexuality is that part of us that expressed through our sexual and/or romantic 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 choicesMany 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 OK to take your time figuring out what does feel right for you too. It’s OK to be unsure and it’s normal to be confused while you’re figuring things out.

 

FBI Model

It can be helpful to think about sexuality in several aspects that are on a continuum or in shades of grey; Feelings/Fantasies, Behaviour, and Identity. Our feelings/fantasies include who we fall in love with, who we are attracted to, who we think about when we are aroused and who we intimately connect with. Our behaviours include sex, flirting, who we date and have relationships with. Identity is the label or name we use to describe our sexuality. At FC we use a model to make it simpler to understand;

 

                 Feelings/Fantasies

Same gender ------------------------------------- opposite gender

              Behaviour

Same gender-------------------------------------  opposite gender

                 Identity

Gay/Lesbian -------------------------------------  Straight

queer/pansexual/bisexual


 

Everyone can be at a different part of each continuum in the FBI Model, and this can also change at different times of people's lives. Here's an example;

 

Nicky has a boyfriend who she's been with for 6 months. She loves him but has started to become attracted more to girls. She's been fantasizing about both her boyfriend and some of the girls she's been attracted to. Nicky has started to identify as bisexual but doesn't want to break up with her boyfriend.


 

              Nicky's Feelings/Fantasies

Same gender <------------------X-------------------> opposite gender

            Nicky's Behaviour

Same gender  <------------------------------------X-> opposite gender

              Nicky's Identity

Gay/Lesbian <---------------------X------------------> Straight

  Queer/pansexual/bisexual


 

Five years later Nicky has had a couple more boyfriends and two girlfriends and is now with Jacquie. They have been together for a year and are about to move in together. She still fantasizes about guys and girls that's she's attracted to and now prefers to call herself queer.


 

            Nicky's Feelings/Fantasies

samegender <--------------X-----------------------> opposite gender

            Nicky's Behaviour

Samegender <-X------------------------------------> opposite gender

Nicky's Identity

Gay/Lesbian <-------X--------------------------------> Straight

Queer/pansexual/bisexual


 

Not everyone's positions on the continuums change in their life and many people are at similar sides or parts of all three continuums, but many people change and are different too.

Sexual health is also an important part of our sexuality. The World Health Organisation’s draft working definition is; “Sexual health is a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being related to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled.” See our sexual health info page for more about it.

 

When you’re same gender attracted it can be harder to find the information and support to ensure our sexual health is at its best. Especially when parts of our society may not seem to have a positive and respectful approach to our sexuality and when laws, social norms and/or cultures may prevent all of our sexual rights from being respected, protected and fulfilled. This is why it’s even more important to link in with places that can help us maintain our sexual health, such as LGBTIQ-friendly sexual health services and information services. We can do things like getting accurate information, having safe sex and going for regular sexual health checks. See our sexual health info sheet and Safe Sex No Regrets documen or Sexual Health Quarters website (http://www.shq.org.au) for more info on sexuality and sexual health.

 

The following resources may also be interesting for you to check out;

 

Gender Diversity

A person’s gender (or lack thereof) can include how a person, thinks, 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 or deviance from society’s expectations.

 

Gender diversity comes in all forms; from a transitioned man or woman, to a person who just doesn’t fit their gender role stereotype because of how they dress or act. By simply being attracted to the same gender we are breaking our gender stereotypes and expectations, but this can be far more accepted and visible in society than what the trans community experience. The trans community are too often forgotten in the LGBTIQ community (not to mention in the rest of society!), but 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). Many people will change their name 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 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, 93 Brisbane Street, Perth 6000.

 

Intersex

Intersex people can have the same range of identities, including for sexual or gender diversity, as anyone. Many intersex peopleidentify as heterosexual, men, women and/or any range of other sexual and gender identities.For some people, intersex is part of their identity, while for others it is not an identity, but a bodily difference.