This also includes people who are questioning their identity and/or simply identify as anything other than heterosexual and cisgender. Cisgender refers to a person who identifies as a gender which is considered by society as ‘appropriate’ for one’s sex. Being cisgender and heterosexual is a privilege that is often unrecognised by its group members. This privilege exists because society’s heteronormative beliefs that the “norm” is the alignment of biological sex, sexuality, gender and gender roles, and the norm is the superior. This can make navigating aspects of life such as identity, sex and relationships for LGBTI people more challenging due to the lack of positive role models, information available and guidance.
People who identify as LGBTI are more likely to experience discrimination, marginalisation, intolerance, harassment, threat of, and actual violence due to their sexual orientation or gender identity compared to their heterosexual counterparts. People who identify as LGBTI are also more vulnerable to mental health disorders including depression, anxiety, substance dependence and suicidal thoughts.
Discrimination is the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people on the grounds of characteristics such as gender, race, sexuality or identity. For people in the LGBTI community, discrimination may take form in direct ways such as the denial of rights to marry who they want, or in more subtle ways such the acceptance of using the word “gay” derogatively.
Marginalisation is the process of making a group of people feel isolated and unimportant through exclusion, and not recognising their needs or desires. Mainstream culture often reinforces ideals related to the heterosexual community, which can leave the LGBTI community feeling vulnerable to social exclusion.
Feeling marginalised or discriminated against can often make the ‘coming out’ process extremely difficult. The mainstream assumption is that a person is straight and identifies as their biological gender, making the process of ‘coming out’ or disclosing their sexuality or gender identity very difficult. For some people, religious beliefs, culture or traditional attitudes further complicates this process, and can result in experiencing identity issues, particularly when your immediate community is not affirming or accepting of the LGBTI community.
Dealing with a heteronormative society and the problems this entails can be a source of mental suffering. Factors such as having to hide one’s identity and affection for loved ones, being bullied, enduring homophobic jokes and feeling ashamed about one’s sexuality or identity can have a negative impact on a person’s mental health and wellbeing.
Provides support, information, social events to people aged 12 and over who are sexual orientation and gender diverse
Telephone: 1800 184 527