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How Are LGBTQIA+ Youths Affected By Discrimination?

The world as we know it is changing at a rapid pace. In many ways, this is positive. New perspectives and mindsets are being accepted or at the very least, they are part of the bigger conversation. However, there are downsides to all this change. For example, with so many young people identifying as LGBTQIA+, there is still so far to go in terms of discrimination.

New cultural shifts can be confusing or even challenging. Unfortunately, this often manifests in deliberate or unintentional bias. For younger folks, this can feel triggering and dangerous. Thus, it is important to understand how such discrimination manifests and how to deal with it.

How Are LGBTQIA+ Youths Affected By Discrimination?

There is overt bigotry and there are behaviors founded on ignorance or a lack of awareness. These can fall into categories ranging from hate crimes to legal statutes to micro-aggressions. Plus, of course, each person has individual boundaries that may be disrespected on a regular basis. This situation can begin at home, e.g.

  • Parents or siblings are unaccepting of your sexual preference and/or identity
  • The use of inappropriate or downright abusive language toward you or in your presence
  • Full-blown rejection with the possibility of physical violence

Indeed, these trends can continue in other settings like school, work, and basically anywhere in public life. Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Bathroom politics
  • Misgendering
  • Not offering equal access to services
  • Bullying, name-calling, stalking, and threats (in-person and online)
  • Mockery and teasing

rainbow art on wallBy the Numbers

In studies, 90 percent of LGBTQIA+ youths have reported hearing discriminatory language every day at school (with about 33 percent coming from staff members). Here are more related numbers:

  • The average number of anti-LGBTQIA+ slurs heard per day: 26
  • 84 percent of LGBTQIA+ youth deal with verbal harassment at school
  • 25 percent have been physical hurt
  • 28 percent drop out due to such harassment

Dropping out is far from the only risk. Generally speaking, LGBTQIA+ youth are also more likely to:

  • Engage in substance abuse
  • Become homeless
  • Commit suicide

In other words, the precise method of discrimination can vary widely but all such methods add up to some frightening trends.

On the Flip Side

It is essential to recognize that upbeat trends also exist. More young people are learning how to be allies and are willing to do the work. Teachers are becoming more aware of how they can become a positive presence in the changing landscape. For those reading this who wish to be a reliable ally, some points to consider:

  • Do not make assumptions about anyone’s orientation or identity
  • Educate yourself on related topics before speaking about them
  • Stand up for anyone who is bullying or threatened
  • Hold yourself and others accountable when discrimination of any kind occurs
  • Do not remain silent in the face of abuse and bigotry

As more and more people like you take active steps, the playing field shifts. There is no finish line in this struggle but every shift has the potential to save a life.

But Where Do the LGBTQIA+ Youths Turn?

If you’re an LGBTQIA+ youth, you might be reading this and thinking you don’t have time to wait for societal shifts. And you’re right. You have a life to now. Faced with many challenges, you can lose optimism about your prospects. This is precisely why so many young people like you seek out LGBTQIA+ friendly therapists.

Your weekly sessions offer you the safe space you need to develop coping mechanisms. You are not alone and I invite you to reach out right now to be assured that help is available. I’d be honored to support you on this journey toward both acceptance and self-acceptance with LGBTQIA+ Counseling.

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How Can Therapy Help With The Process Of Coming Out?

“Coming out,” in a general sense, involves a person sharing with others something they already know about themselves. It has multiple applications but “coming out” is most often associated with sexual orientation and/or gender identity. This is not uncommon but that doesn’t always make things any easier.

There is no “correct” or specific way to come out. Everyone’s circumstances are different. This can shape who they tell — when they share and how they do so. Having support during this process is incredibly helpful. For that reason, many folks choose to work with a therapist before they say anything to others.

A Few Things to Keep in Mind About the Process of Coming Out

You Have to Do It Your Way

As touched on above, every situation is different — sometimes in dramatic ways. Plus, of course, each person brings their own unique perception and personality to the process. With that in mind, factors will come into play, e.g. whether or not you are in a relationship and if so, how your partner views the situation. Ultimately, since you cannot know in advance how coming out will be viewed by others, it’s usually best to do what feels right for you.

rainbow glitterGeography

Where you live has the potential to play a role. Certain populations and certain geographical areas can have very different views on sexuality and identity. You don’t want to overstate this reality but you also should not dismiss it.

It’s an Ongoing and Evolving Process

Within the realm of pop culture, coming out is often portrayed as a one-time thing. In real life, it is never a single act. You may choose to tell only a few people to start. Over time, you can find yourself coming out time and time again. Every time you start a new job or school, make a new friend, or relocate — for example — you meet people with whom you have to decide how much to share.

In other words, it’s critical to prepare yourself for a lifelong process that will be shaped by the people you meet and the choices you make. Hence, it makes a whole lot of sense that you’d get guidance, advice, and support from a trained professional.

How Therapy Can Help With the Process of Coming Out

Some of the benefits may be obvious, e.g. therapy offers you a safe space to talk about your emotions. But also, an experienced mental health professional can walk you through the emotional steps. This includes the six stages of the Cass Identity Model:

  • Confusion: Therapy can help you find the clarity you need before moving forward with public disclosure
  • Comparison: You will learn more about yourself, your preferences, and your identity. With guidance, you can connect with an LGBTQ community.
  • Tolerance: The clarity and the community often result in personal tolerance. In your sessions, you may begin to explore your internalized beliefs.
  • Acceptance: When you accept you are you must also accept that your life is going to be different than what you may have previously imagined. Therapy is where you can shift your self-view.
  • Pride: The more you learn, the more you may feel resentment for societal norms. It’s not unusual to feel an “us vs. them” vibe. Counseling is where you can process all these changing emotions.
  • Synthesis: In this stage, you begin to see coming out as just one part of who you are. You integrate it into your personality and feel more ready to share about yourself.

If you need help in processing who you are and how to feel good about that, LGBTQ+ Counseling is an excellent starting point. I’d love to talk more about this with you soon.

Stressed Over Hiding Your Sexuality? 3 Ways To Help Deal With It

There has been an increase in awareness and inclusivity. Even so, this does not make it easy to come out. A 2019 Yale School of Public Health study estimated that 83 percent of lesbian, gay, or bisexual people are in what they called a “global closet.” This means more than 8 in 10 keep their orientation hidden.

This is an extremely challenging situation. Hiding your sexuality could potentially protect you from discrimination or attacks. But it denies you the support you’d get from a community of those who share the same orientation. Plus, of course, keeping a secret this big can be a major source of stress.

Potential Mental Health Issues Caused By Hiding Your Sexuality

A common and often debilitating problem is the loss of self-esteem. The increased public presence of LGBTQIA+ people is positive. However, it can be negative for someone who is not out. Is there something wrong with me because I’m not out? Or is there something wrong with me because I’m not heterosexual?

You may feel like a fraud. Feelings like shame and guilt become the norm. You might yo-yo between feeling immoral and feeling cowardly. You want to be “brave” like those you see on social media but nothing is ever that simple. Yet, you also want to be “normal” but once again, nothing is ever that simple. As time passes, your self-image can devolve into an unhealthy state of self-hatred.

The trend I just described can then increase the likelihood of you struggling with any of the following psychological issues:

  • Dissociative Identity Disorder
  • Chronic Depression
  • Alcohol or Drug Abuse
  • Thoughts of Suicide

Obviously, some healthy coping mechanisms are required. Let’s explore your options.

3 Ways To Help Deal With Hiding Your Sexuality

1. Connect With Kindred Spirits Online

Community is just a few clicks away. Of course, protect yourself as much as you feel you must. Use a private computer, safeguard your browsing history, and take whatever steps you need to take to make this a safe experience.

From there, connect with others who understand your situation. Share stories, fears, dreams, and ideas. Learn from each other. But always make certain you feel safe, validated, supported, and respected in any group you join.

2. Make Travel Plans

Needless to say, this depends on your situation. But, if at all possible, why not take a solo trip to a location that you know is gay-friendly? Doing this during Pride Month might be ideal but there are other options. Give yourself a chance to see what it feels like being out:

  • Where you will be among others who are comfortably out
  • You are not in proximity of prying eyes
  • Where you can let your guard down and feel what you need to feel

This doesn’t automatically mean you’re there to do anything that feels rushed or risky. Only you can decide what that means for you. But, again, why not get a sense of what being out is like?

3. Practice Self-Care

Re-read the mental health issues listed above. It clearly shows that this is a stressful scenario. To counterbalance the stress and fortify yourself against low self-esteem, self-care is crucial, e.g.

  • Get enough sleep — ideally on a steady schedule
  • Make healthy eating choices
  • Exercise daily
  • Practice stress management and relaxation techniques
  • Connect socially — do not isolate yourself

There’s a good chance you just don’t have anyone to talk with about this. Who can you trust? Well, a skilled therapist can be the ideal starting point. Your weekly sessions are a safe space to identify emotions, recognize patterns, and practice new approaches. I invite you to reach out and get this process started with lgbtq counseling.

Gender identity, gender transition, and letter-writing for hormones and surgery

You have the right to claim your gender identity! The world is changing, and although not everyone is accepting, more and more people are coming to realize that gender is not a cut-and-dry issue.

Being trans is increasingly in the mainstream. People now see that being born as one gender doesn’t mean that you will feel right in that gender for your entire life. People now realize that gender is a spectrum. Moreover, you may find that even with this interpretation of gender as a spectrum, you don’t identify with any aspect of that male-female spectrum.

At various stages of life, you may find that you have questions and challenges that arise in relation to your gender identity. Perhaps you want hormone therapy and a letter of support for your gender transition surgery. Maybe you simply want to work through relationship challenges that have arisen as a result of your being trans or another gender identity. Or perhaps you just know that your relationship with your own gender is in transition and you want to gain a deeper understanding of where you are at with it today.

Understanding Gender Identity

Understanding gender identity is complex. We know that gender isn’t as simple as being male or female. In fact, if you draw a line with each of those polarities on either side, and you ask people in a group to mark a spot along the spectrum that feels right for them, the majority of people will end up somewhere in the middle. Increasingly, some people realize that they don’t fall anywhere on that spectrum, and they are working to identify an entirely different relationship with gender.

Wherever you land (or don’t) on the spectrum, you might have to reckon with your gender identity at some point, or many points, along the way. So many factors contribute to how we understand our gender identity. Race, class, dis/ability, sexual orientation, and age are some of the lenses through which we understand what gender means to others, which informs our sense of what our gender means to us. Because society accepts cis-gendered people more readily than trans people, those whose gender identity isn’t the same as their gender assigned at birth may have to grapple with these questions more publicly.

Understanding your gender identity is ultimately about understanding yourself.

However, being trans or going through a gender transition often means explaining yourself to the people in your life. Therefore, understanding your gender identity can also mean working to understand how society views you and what role that plays in your own self-acceptance. It’s a nuanced, subtle, multi-layered, and very personal experience.

What Is Gender Transition?

If you ask the average person what a gender transition is then they’ll probably say something about how it relates to being trans and having surgery so that your outsides match your insides. While there’s some truth to that, it’s certainly not the whole story. Gender transition is a process, and it’s as emotional and psychological as it is physical.

If you’re going through a gender transition, then you might be processing what gender means to you. Although some people clearly know their gender identity from a very young age, many people go through a process of figuring it out.

You may go through different stages of realization, where you start to notice different truths about yourself that relate to gender.

This can go on for years, and sometimes it can be comfortable whereas other times it can present challenges. Your gender transition starts the moment your mind starts trying to figure out what your true gender identity is.

The gender transition is your personal journey.

It’s what happens to you on the inside. However, there’s also an external aspect. Your gender transition may include both social and physical revelations and alterations. For example, if you change your name to reflect your gender, that’s part of your gender transition. Gender transition might also include changes in wardrobe, makeup, hairstyles, voice, affectation, behavior, and pronoun usage. Your gender transition may or may not include hormones and/or surgery. It might include legal changes including getting new birth records that reflect your true gender.

Therapy to Help You on Your Journey

Many people mistakenly assume that you go to therapy because something is wrong with you. That’s not the case at all. No matter where you are in your gender identity journey, you’re exactly where you need to be right now. There’s nothing wrong with who you are or where you are in this process. However, life is challenging, and the gender identity process can be particularly challenging for some people. When life challenges us, it’s a sign of strength and resourcefulness to ask for help.

Get the Help You Need Today

As therapists, we are happy to help you and support you on your gender identity journey. If you want hormone therapy and/or surgical procedures, we can support you in that, including writing the necessary professional letters to help you on that journey. However, we don’t have any agenda, so we aren’t going to tell you that you need those things. There are many different ways to approach gender identity, and we wholeheartedly believe that you are the one who knows what’s best for you. We want to help you work through any conflicts or questions that you might have, assist you in challenges that might arise socially or professionally, and provide the resources you need at every step along the way.

Reach out to us so we can learn more about you and how we can be helpful to you right now.

Couples with a Partner Who is Transitioning

Whenever there is a big change in a relationship, the couple has to adjust. Sometimes that means that there is a period of crisis or stress. Even in the best of times, change usually brings about a lot of anxiety. Change is obviously at the forefront of the relationship when there is a transitioning partner. Getting therapy doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with either of you or with the relationship. It means that you are doing all that you can do to support your relationship during this time of change.

Transgender Couples

The trans community is gaining more and more visibility and support. However, it’s still not an easy road for transgender couples. Trans couples still face a lot of bigotry, judgment, and misunderstanding. We understand that and want to provide you with a safe space where none of those things are present. We offer understanding. We come to you with curiosity and open-mindedness.

One of the things that we value is respect for who you are as an individual and as a couple. We understand the unique challenges facing transgender couples. We recognize that these challenges may play a role in your journey, and we are ready to help you work through them. However, we also understand that you are more than just your trans identity. We understand that you are unique individuals in a relationship, and we don’t assume that being trans, or that the process of transitioning, is necessarily a problem for you.

Understanding the Journey of Both Partners

Many couples facing the transition of one partner seek therapy to navigate through this time together. One of the first questions they have to answer is whether this transition will push them apart or draw them together.

Although sometimes individuals come to therapy to work through those feelings on their own, couples therapy for couples in transition offers something very different. It is a space where the experiences of both individuals can be seen, heard, appreciated, and understood by their partner. Transition affects the identity and self-perception of both people, not just the trans partner. While the transitioning partner is facing the challenges of feeling so spotlighted in their life, often the non-transitioning partner can feel somewhat invisible. This is just one of the many shifting dynamics that couples in transition experience.

It is not uncommon for couples to feel more distant from one another in some ways, at the same time that they feel more connected than ever in other ways. Conflict can occur, and conflict may feel different than it did pre-transition.

As one partner transitions, so too does their relationship. Transition forever changes how the relationship functions physically, sexually, emotionally, and psychologically. And just like the social and physical changes that are happening, these relationship changes will also stabilize at some point. It can be helpful to seek therapy to help support and shape your relationship during this time of challenge and change.

Understanding the Journey of Both Partners

Many couples facing the transition of one partner seek therapy to navigate through this time together. One of the first questions they have to answer is whether this transition will push them apart or draw them together.

Although sometimes individuals come to therapy to work through those feelings on their own, couples therapy for couples in transition offers something very different. It is a space where the experiences of both individuals can be seen, heard, appreciated, and understood by their partner. Transition affects the identity and self-perception of both people, not just the trans partner. While the transitioning partner is facing the challenges of feeling so spotlighted in their life, often the non-transitioning partner can feel somewhat invisible. This is just one of the many shifting dynamics that couples in transition experience.

It is not uncommon for couples to feel more distant from one another in some ways, at the same time that they feel more connected than ever in other ways. Conflict can occur, and conflict may feel different than it did pre-transition.

As one partner transitions, so too does their relationship. Transition forever changes how the relationship functions physically, sexually, emotionally, and psychologically. And just like the social and physical changes that are happening, these relationship changes will also stabilize at some point. It can be helpful to seek therapy to help support and shape your relationship during this time of challenge and change.

If you are interested in learning more about how LGBTQ+ counseling can help if you or your partner are transitioning, please contact us.

Sexuality and LGBTQI+ Communities

Understanding sexuality is no easy feat. First of all, society sends you a whole bunch of messages starting from when you are very little. No matter how much you try to define sexuality for yourself, those messages seep in, and they can cause you at times to feel confused, frustrated, or othered. If you’re working to understand sexuality and LGBTQI+ communities, then you might feel like it’s a lot to puzzle through.

Even once you’ve come to a solid understanding and acceptance of your own sexuality, it can change.

The dynamics at play in each new relationship can help you see new aspects of your sexuality. Changes in your body due to age, hormones, or life transitions (such as having children) can alter your experiences of your own sexuality. This can be particularly confusing for LGBTQI+ individuals who might have worked hard to define their sexuality and feel like these changes are tied up with their identity. We offer LGBTQI+ support and help for all people seeking an understanding of their sexuality. Additionally, we also help support partners and families including non-nuclear families.

Understanding Sexuality

We are very interested in working with sexuality issues and LGBTQI+ individuals because we know that this is a very important aspect of a person’s life. Everyone is a sexual being. Even people who identify as asexual must work through their sexuality to come to understanding and acceptance of that truth. We hold no judgments or preconceived notions about what your sexuality, gender, or identity should be or will be.

Understanding your own sexuality is not a milestone but rather a process. We want to work with you to feel empowered in the exploration of this journey. We want to start where you are, not define where you need to end up.

For example, we provide LGBTQI+ support, but we don’t assume that we know exactly what that needs to look like for you. We believe that you are deeply knowledgeable about your sexuality and identity, even if you feel confused, frustrated, or overwhelmed at this moment. We trust you to be able to find the answers for yourself and simply want to provide guidance, support, wisdom (and maybe a little humor) along the way.

Regardless of your orientation, relationship status, gender identity, or other factors, sexuality plays an important role in your life. Understanding sexuality can be a lifelong, ever changing process. If you want to continue deepening your relationship, comfort level, and possibilities for your own sexuality, you can take this journey as far as you’d like. That said, if you have a specific challenge and understanding your sexuality better can help, you might work through that and feel done. Either way is an okay way to be.

Understanding Sexuality

We are very interested in working with sexuality issues and LGBTQI+ individuals because we know that this is a very important aspect of a person’s life. Everyone is a sexual being. Even people who identify as asexual must work through their sexuality to come to understanding and acceptance of that truth. We hold no judgments or preconceived notions about what your sexuality, gender, or identity should be or will be.

Understanding your own sexuality is not a milestone but rather a process. We want to work with you to feel empowered in the exploration of this journey. We want to start where you are, not define where you need to end up.

For example, we provide LGBTQI+ support, but we don’t assume that we know exactly what that needs to look like for you. We believe that you are deeply knowledgeable about your sexuality and identity, even if you feel confused, frustrated, or overwhelmed at this moment. We trust you to be able to find the answers for yourself and simply want to provide guidance, support, wisdom (and maybe a little humor) along the way.

Regardless of your orientation, relationship status, gender identity, or other factors, sexuality plays an important role in your life. Understanding sexuality can be a lifelong, ever changing process. If you want to continue deepening your relationship, comfort level, and possibilities for your own sexuality, you can take this journey as far as you’d like. That said, if you have a specific challenge and understanding your sexuality better can help, you might work through that and feel done. Either way is an okay way to be. Contact us today to get started.