Assistance with concerns specific to the LGBTI community
LGBTI refers to people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or intersex.
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.
Common LGBTI Issues
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.
Problems with Coming Out
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.
Although the problem for people who identify as LGBTI sits with the attitudes and behaviours of the society around them, a person may seek help to learn how to cope with impacts, and any other issues related to a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) may help with understanding a person’s unhealthy coping styles or patterns of thinking that may lead to unhelpful behaviours, and/or decrease a person’s resilience.
Some useful links:
The Gender Centre Inc.
Provides information and support to Trans and gender diverse people in NSW
Telephone: 1800 069 115
Provides information and support through online and telephone services
Telephone: 1890 929 539
Twenty 10 Gay and Lesbian counselling service of NSW
Provides support, information, social events to people aged 12 and over who are sexual orientation and gender diverse
Telephone: 1800 184 527