Gender Orientation and Sexuality
Much has been learned about gender orientation and sexuality over the past 50 years, all of which underscores the importance of removing the social stigma that has been associated with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) orientations. A strong body of research suggests that core sexual attractions emerge in middle childhood and early adolescence, frequently prior to any sexual experience, and that, like heterosexuals, most LGBT individuals experience no sense of choice regarding their orientation. Non-heterosexual orientation is not a mental health problem but what frequently does present psychological problems is the prejudice and discrimination that LGBT individuals continue to experience in society, many times within their families. While public opinion has increasingly opposed sexual discrimination, and many workplaces have established policies and protocols to prevent it, prejudice and even violence against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and people with transgender orientations remains all too common.
Public attitudes continue to place constraints on people regarding their choices about concealing their LGBT orientation or ‘coming out’ (e.g., making their gender preferences known to others), either of which can produce stress in their lives. While some people face minimal stigma, others face major prejudice and discrimination, and factors such as race, gender, religion, disability and other personal characteristics can exacerbate the negative impact.
With the slow pace of cultural change in understanding and accepting sexual diversity, LGBT individuals understandably have issues and concerns that psychotherapy can enable them to address: depression, anxiety, low self-esteem (internalized discrimination) and conflicts within their families. Such issues can arise at any point in life. Adolescence is a critical stage for LGBT individuals to get help because it is both a time of sexual awakening and one in which bullying in school for behaviors perceived to be outside of the norm is rampant. Non-heterosexual partners who are raising children deal with discrimination. Some people face the challenge of learning that their spouse or significant other has a same sex, bisexual or transgender orientation.
We encourage you to contact us regarding any issues related to gender orientation and sexuality, whether they are your own or those of family members. You deserve a safe and confidential place to work through them.