Man. Woman. Homosexual. Heterosexual. Bisexual. Transgender. These are terms we've all heard, I assume. A whole range of other terms has gained prominence with wider media coverage fairly recently, however, and some of them cover concepts that are quite hard to grasp for those people the terms don't apply to. So, let's start with that and have a look at what some of the terms referring to gender and sexual orientation mean.
- Agender. The person doesn't identify with any gender.
- Asexual. The person doesn't experience sexual attraction to anyone.
- Gender fluid. The person's sense of gender identity and expression is fluid, fluctuating. Sometimes, the term non-binary may be used as well — you don't identify as "neatly" fitting into the (still?) widely accepted societal concept of gender. The term gender queer expresses something similar, though beware that different people have differing definitions for these ideas.
- Pansexual. The person can experience sexual attractions to people of all genders or gender expressions.
These are not exhaustive terms at all — once you delve into the world of gender and sexuality, you'll hear many more. Butch, femme, third gender, aromantic, and androgynous are just samples of what you will come across.
Some of these terms refer to your gender identity and others to your sexual orientation. In short, to how you think of yourself and to whom you're attracted to.
While it's confusing for people who've never had to think about these terms, because they're cisgender (born with a body that matches their perception of their gender) and heterosexual, it's also positive that today's society is becoming slightly more open to discussing and accepting all the ways in which a person can be and love. People are the way they are regardless of whether there's a word for that, and finding the "label" that fits you can feel extremely liberating — it means there are others who are similar.
When Should You Seek Therapy And/Or Medical Help For Your Gender Identity Or Sexual Orientation?
Therapy can benefit anyone who is struggling with existential questions, depression, bullying, discrimination, or gender dysphoria (feeling that your body doesn't match your identity). Therapy can benefit anyone who is struggling — period — given the right therapist.
If you are non-hetero, non-cisgender, or both, but you don't face any problems because of this, and you don't need to see a therapist because you are hoping to medically transition (to a body that matches your gender identity more closely) and a therapist is required before you can do that, you don't need a therapist. In that case, you may benefit more from an LGBTQIA+ support group, in "real life" or on the internet, if you're hoping to meet other people in the same boat. You can do the same if you're hoping to work through some thoughts or are struggling with reactions from people in your life, too.
Those people who are trans or non-binary with gender dysphoria and who would like to explore transitioning medically, by taking hormone therapy and considering gender reassignment surgery, can start by getting in touch with a therapist or their family doctor.
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