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Community Voices

What do you look for in a therapist or mental health professional?

<p>What do you look for in a therapist or <a href="https://themighty.com/topic/mental-health/?label=mental health" class="tm-embed-link  tm-autolink health-map" data-id="5b23ce5800553f33fe98c3a3" data-name="mental health" title="mental health" target="_blank">mental health</a> professional?</p>
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Community Voices

Not Gay Enough?

#Bisexual #LGBTQ

Today I participated in an online trivia game hosted by the honour society I'm a member of at my college. Being the progressive organization that we are, the theme was PRIDE Jeopardy. Several members identify as LGBTQ-PA . Also, many, actually all of them, are younger than me. As these trivia questions came rolling out, and the younger generation of forward thinking leaders answered quickly and accurately, I realized that there is a lot about the community that I've been a member of since 1999, that I don't know. With each wrong answer I submitted, I could feel the eyes of my fellow students roll with disappointment. I feel like a sham, a fake, a wolf in sheep's clothing, all because I don't know the current colours of each flag, or the proper terminology, or pronoun, or any of the myriad of important issues that relate to this community. And it's not that it doesn't matter to me. It does! It's not that I don't care. I do! But I just feel so out of the loop, behind the times, and honestly, a bit ostracised. I don't feel like I belong anymore...I fought so hard to find a community where I felt safe to be myself, to love whomever my heart chose, heck to love myself for once. But now I feel like an outsider, both looking in and looking out of the perverbial closet with no sense of support or communion from either side. I just want to be loved and accepted for who I am, not rejected for what I'm not. Isn't that what we all want? A place to belong? A place to feel safe? A place where we don't have to pretend anymore? And yet, here I am, feeling rejected like a traitor by the only community I've ever been able to identify with because I'm certainly not straight, but suddenly I'm not gay enough either. Where do I go now? Standing in the closet doorway - unwelcomed and uninvited....

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Community Voices

Supreme Court ruling and continued deliberations and it's effect on me as a genderqueer person with disabilities #LGBTQIA #EhlersDanlosSyndrome

<p>Supreme Court ruling and continued deliberations and it's effect on me as a genderqueer person with disabilities <a class="tm-topic-link ugc-topic" title="LGBTQIA+" href="/topic/lgbtqia/" data-id="5b23ce9400553f33fe9967a6" data-name="LGBTQIA+" aria-label="hashtag LGBTQIA+">#LGBTQIA</a>  <a class="tm-topic-link mighty-topic" title="Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome" href="/topic/ehlers-danlos-syndrome/" data-id="5b23ce7a00553f33fe991e01" data-name="Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome" aria-label="hashtag Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome">#EhlersDanlosSyndrome</a> </p>
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Community Voices

Who are your LGBTQIA+ role models?

<p>Who are your LGBTQIA+ role models?</p>
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Community Voices

How do you want your loved ones to show you support?

<p>How do you want your loved ones to show you support?</p>
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Community Voices

Trans friends, how do you experience gender euphoria?

<p>Trans friends, how do you experience gender euphoria?</p>
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Community Voices

Polyamorous Support

Hi i am polyamorous and have been with both my partners for 6months in a triad relationship kinda thing and recently my male partner was verbally abusive and put hands on my girlfriend .. i felt like i was caught in the middle and i want to support my girl friend during this difficult time as he was her husband and now they may be serperating because we do not tolerate abuse of any kind.. jus wanted to know if anybody has any similar experience or advice.

#PTSD #LGBTQIA #polyamours #Abuse #Relationships

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The Struggle to Feel Good About My Gender Nonconforming Identity

A couple of years ago, I came out as gender nonconforming (GNC). It’s been a struggle, but I’m much happier in my own body now that I can truly express myself. It wasn’t that I discovered I was GNC recently; I always knew I was different from other cis girls, but I didn’t have the words for it. Once I did have the words, I didn’t have the courage to say it out loud. Coming out as gender nonconforming, non-binary, or trans, comes with a certain level of risk. A level of risk that I wasn’t comfortable taking, and honestly, I’m still anxious about it. But the alternative — hiding and forcing myself to be something I wasn’t was so detrimental in terms of depression, anxiety, and self-worth. I hated myself, and I hated seeing a strange woman staring back in the mirror when I knew that wasn’t who I was. Coming out has been life-saving for me. I look at clothes on my body and feel like they’re for me, I’m so much more comfortable expressing my masculinity, and I am less anxious and depressed. For the first time today, I walked into a store, marched into the men’s section, and started picking out clothes to try on. I held my head high as I asked for a fitting room and made my purchases. I never felt comfortable doing that before because I was anxious about the weird looks I’d get. I was always worried I’d be told I can’t shop in that section, or something much worse. When I first started wearing men’s clothing, I knew I was making a choice to have my gender identity seen more visibly, which led to a number of safety concerns. Every time I decide to do what feels comfortable internally, there’s a certain level of discomfort I have to accept externally. I have to choose to not be myself and be depressed, or be myself and be anxious about my safety. In 2019, I visited Trinidad and Tobago, a country where being gay was illegal and punishable by law with 25 years of imprisonment until 2018, only a year prior. I was terrified wearing swim trunks on the beach, and was constantly looking over my shoulder. At the same time, I knew that I would feel beyond depressed if I forced myself to wear a bikini. I often find myself having to choose between what feels right, and what feels safe. We’re at a time where trans rights are under more fire than ever before. Anti-trans legislation has been sweeping across the U.S., and politicians and public figures are becoming emboldened in sharing their transphobic rhetoric. As of March of this year, 238 anti-trans bills has been put forward, making it over 600 proposals since 2018. These bills cover anything from banning trans athletes from participating in sports, to a Texas bill which calls for child services to investigate “child abuse” if parents support gender affirming and life-saving medical treatments for their children. Trans rights, which are human rights, have been under attack. The mental health toll and trauma as a result of these transphobic messages has been staggering for myself (despite me being in Canada), and trans folks worldwide. Even if these bills get overturned or shut down, damage has still been done. Data from The Trevor Project shows that when anti-trans legislation is proposed, crisis calls from LGBTQIA+ youth, and particularly trans youth, skyrocket. And it’s no wonder, because what kind of message are we supposed to receive when these kinds of anti-trans movements gain traction? It tells us that who we are is inherently wrong, and what makes us feel happy and OK is wrong. It tells us that we don’t deserve to be who we are. Fifty-two percent of trans youth considered suicide in 2021, far greater than any other demographic segment, and 94% of LGBTQIA+ youth said politics has a negative impact on their mental health. As I become more comfortable in my own gender identity, and see the beauty in my transness, the limitlessness of being gender nonconforming, and the freedom of living exactly who I am, I struggle to reconcile my small world with the systemic and societal structures that make it exceedingly difficult to be who I am. While my mental health has improved drastically since accepting myself and finding acceptance in my communities, I cannot remain unaffected by the violence my trans siblings are constantly subject to. Black trans women are for more likely to be murdered than white, cis women, and five times more Black trans people have experienced homelessness than the general population. When the trans community is subject to higher levels of violence, homelessness, unemployment, and harassment, it’s no wonder it becomes harder to be who you are. I carry a lot of privileges — I can choose to pretend to be a woman in spaces where I need to preserve my safety, and I have a job and a home, but I always carry that fear with me. I fear for my future, my safety, and for the safety of the trans community. I fear that one day, being who I am, will come at much too high a cost. But yet, I know progress has been made, and I’m reminded of my friend Lisa’s words, who said:“’We stand on the shoulders of giants’ is said to mean that we see farther, understand more, and reach higher than ever thanks to those who came before us and did the work. Usually said with gratitude, I think, but I can’t help but think about how, in this context, the shoulders of those giants are tired, and many are dead. We stand on the graves of our guardians. We stand on the scars of our siblings.” I am eternally grateful for each of those giants who made it safer and more acceptable than before for me to be who I am. I still get scared sometimes. I make my voice higher pitched, or when trying colognes I say I’m shopping for my brother. Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth it to be who I truly am. The answer is yes, it is worth it. We deserve to feel safe and accepted for who we are. Being gender nonconforming has been, and will always be, one of the best parts of who I am, and one day, the rest of the world will see that, too.

How to Protect LGBTQIA+ Youth Mental Health: A Psychologist's Advice

“Looking in the mirror, I’m haunted by the monster staring back at me — the reflection of an ugly, disgusting, less-than monster. As my eyes lock in with the monster, I question, ‘am I unlovable? Am I enough? Is this my fault? Will anyone ever accept me? Do I accept me? Am I safe?’” Through shaking voices and pained eyes, these are just a few common-themed questions I hear daily from children and adolescents in my clinical practice as a pediatric psychologist: youth feeling as if they are carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders, coupled with the unknown of these questions can seem too much to bear at times. Some may feel flawed, broken, or scared, and yet they resemble astounding fortitude. What You Need to Know About LGBTQIA+ Youth LGBTQIA+ youth are not predisposed to increased suicidality or mental health disorders because of their sexual or gender identities, rather their experiences of stigmatization, familial rejection, and unsafe or non-affirming environments place them at increased risk; they are not inherently born to feel like monsters. Perpetual and chronic victimization, prejudice, and discrimination experienced by LGBTQIA+ youth encapsulate minority stress theory . Envision the degree of disapproval, hate, and exclusion a child must experience to internalize themselves as a disgusting monster unworthy of love. Consequently, depression, anxiety, trauma , and homelessness occur at significantly higher rates for LGBTQIA+ youth. And sadly, LGBTQIA+ are more than four times as likely to attempt suicide than their peers, with one LGBTQIA+ young person attempting suicide every 45 seconds in the United States. As a pediatric psychologist, one of the most indigestible statements is: “Please don’t tell my parents I’m gay, they’ll kill me.” In that moment, I contemplate the content and language used by parents, family members, friends, or teachers that may render such fear and terror at the thought of simply talking to their parents. Instinctively, I aim to protect and validate every child in an attempt to relinquish some of their distress and instill hope; however, this work truly must begin at home. Current LGBTQIA+ youth mental health statistics, along with a record-high number of anti-LGBTQIA+ legislative bills sweeping across the United States, paint a dismal picture. Luckily, data has also shown that we can mitigate negative mental health outcomes for youth with easily applicable strategies by parents, teachers, and friends. For starters, research has shown that family acceptance protects LGBTQIA+ adolescents from suicidal behavior, depression, and substance abuse. Youth with accepting families report higher self-esteem, social support, and overall health. Having just one accepting adult reduces suicide by 40% for an LGBTQIA+ young person. Imagine for a moment how much you can truly change the outcome of a child’s life by simply accepting them for who they are. Similarly, LGBTQIA+ youth who find their school and home to be affirming report lower rates of attempting suicide. So, you may ask, what is an affirming environment? How You Can Help LGBTQIA+ Youth Kids are innately curious and ask questions to understand the world around them and the context in which they are living. Cultivating an affirming and accepting environment for children begins early on with language they can understand about family and love. For example, talk to your child about diversity among families by explaining that families all look different – some kids may have one parent or two parents, like two moms, two dads, or one mom and one dad. “What is important is that families love one another and keep each other safe!” This simple language launches the narrative of openness and acceptance toward all people. Self-expression and exploration are critical and normative aspects of childhood development. Allowing kids opportunities to explore interests and activities cultivates creativity, growth, and self-identity. Parents and adults can enhance this process by ensuring interests and activities are labeled for all children. For example, if a child states, “dolls are for girls” or “baseball is for boys,” parents can quickly explain that toys and activities are for all kids! Fast-forward to when your child or teen may come to you with questions or declarations about their gender identity or sexual orientation, unconditional love and support are paramount. Be present with your child, listen, validate, ask about their experiences, and demonstrate to them that as their parent you will always love and protect them. For parents who may struggle with grasping aspects of their child’s identities, recognize your emotions and seek out your own support. Parents can also be catalysts for peer connection and support by connecting their youth with LGBTQIA+ resources and events to increase belongingness and community. Such resources and communities serve as invaluable resources also for parents who may need additional support for their child’s emerging gender identity or sexual orientation. When to Seek Additional Support With LGBTQIA+ Youth If you notice your child is struggling with an aspect of their identity, seek out mental health support from affirming providers who can provide evidence-based guidance. Transgender and gender-diverse youth exhibit even higher rates of negative mental health outcomes and may need a specialty gender care team. Such a team of physicians, psychologists, and social workers specialize in supporting transgender youth and their parents. This does not simply imply medical interventions but rather affirming care for parents and children to better understand themselves. For youth who undergo gender-affirming care, multiple studies have shown improved mental health outcomes for transgender and gender-diverse youth, including reduced suicidality, after receiving gender-affirming care (i.e., social transition, pubertal suppression, and/or hormone treatment ). Even social transitions, such as chosen name use and respected pronouns are linked to reduced depressive symptoms, suicidal ideation, and suicidal behavior among transgender adolescents. In the end, discrimination, prejudice, and bullying are the actual monsters, the monsters in the forms of political attacks, shaming, fearmongering, and denying access to support, resources, and care for all children. Our society has created, fueled, and fed these monsters that continue to haunt numerous LGBTQIA+ youth and families; we must destroy these monsters. Findings regarding current LGBTQIA+ youth mental health and strategies to improve outcomes overwhelming show the need for acceptance and inclusion of gender and sexual diversity. We owe it to all children and adolescents in our lives to accept and support them as they are. To all LGBTQIA+ youth and families, please know that you belong, you are worthy of all the love and acceptance, and you are more than enough. Dr. Poulopoulos is a pediatric psychologist in Miami and advocates for sexual and gender diversity to establish a safe and inclusive community for LGBTQIA+ individuals. She teaches seminars and trainings regarding gender and sexual diversity and an affirming care approach across medical departments. Dr. Poulopoulos is a member of the Society of Pediatric Psychology and has co-authored several peer-reviewed publications and presentations. Resources for LGBTQIA+ Youth The Trevor Project: (866-488-7386) or Text ‘Start’ to 978678LGBT National Youth Talk line: (800-246-7743)LGBT National Center: (888-843-4564) PFLAG.ORG ITGETSBETTER.ORG

Community Voices

What’s a small victory you achieved recently?

<p>What’s a small victory you achieved recently?</p>
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