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Welcome to the Aunty Hilda's home of rainbow!

Figuring out your identity can be a long and difficult process, which unfortunately can be made harder by the many negative social stigmas surrounding LGBTQIA+ people in our world. But never fear! Let this page be a starting place for you if you are in an era of self-discovery. Everybody’s journey will be different and it is important to be kind and patient if you or someone you know is questioning. 

 

If you are questioning your identity, labels are options that many people use to identify themselves. There are many labels which you can experiment with to help you discover more about yourself. If you don’t want to be labelled, that is completely up to you, only you can decide what identity best describes you and for many, the common labels don’t feel right. It is also very common for your identity to change over time. This doesn't mean you are ‘just confused’, it means your identity might be ‘fluid’, which is something that people of any age can experience.

 

If you want to talk to someone about your identity, there are many great organisations  including Rainbow Youth that you can go to for one-on-one support. Along with this, the SHCS QSA (Queer-Straight Alliance) is a safe place for anyone to come along and be part of an inclusive, accepting group each Friday. Check out the posters around school for more info. 

 

To start with, there are many different umbrella terms used to describe a person's identity. Two of these are sexual orientation and gender identity.

Sexual Orientation

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A person’s sexual orientation describes what sort of people they are romantically, sexually, or emotionally attracted or not attracted to. This is often linked to the gender of people who a person might be attracted to. Here are a few (of many) different sexualities and the pride flags that go along with them.

 

Asexual

Asexual is an umbrella term used to describe people who feel little or no sexual attraction. There are many other orientations that fit within the asexual umbrella.

 

Asexuality is a spectrum and some people may experience absolutely no sexual attraction while others may feel varying amounts of sexual attraction.

 

People who are asexual don’t have to not have sex to be asexual.

 

 

Aromantic

Aromantic is another umbrella term used to describe people who experience little or no romantic attraction. There are also many orientations that fit within the aromantic umbrella.

 

Aromanticism is a spectrum and some people may experience absolutely no romantic attraction while others may feel varying amounts of romantic attraction.

 

People who are aromantic do not have to be single to be aromantic.


 

Bisexual/Biromantic

People who are bisexual and/or biromantic feel sexual and/or romantic attraction towards people of both the same gender as their own and people of different genders to their own or towards people regardless of their gender. 

 

Some people use the terms bisexual and pansexual interchangeably but not everybody does this. 

 

Bisexuality can also be an umbrella term for anyone who experiences attraction towards multiple genders and therefore there are many other orientations that can fit under this term. 

 

 

Demisexual/Demiromantic

People who are demisexual and/or demiromantic only feel sexual and/or romantic attraction towards people who they already have a strong emotional connection with.

 

 

Gay

People who are gay only experience sexual and/or romantic attraction towards people of the same gender as them.

 

Often, this term is used to describe men who are attracted to other men but within the LGBTQIA+ community, it can be used as an umbrella term for anyone who is not heterosexual.


 

Lesbian

People who identify as lesbians are usually women who only experience sexual and/or romantic attraction towards other women.

 

Some nonbinary people may also identify as lesbians. This may be because they feel a closer connection to being women and are mainly attracted to women.

 

 

Pansexual/Omnisexual

Pansexual and omnisexual are two terms used to describe people who experience sexual and/or romantic attraction to people of all genders. Often their attraction is experienced towards people regardless of gender. 

 

 

Polyamory

Polyamory is consensually being in/open to multiple loving relationships at the same time. Some polyamorists (polyamorous people) consider “polyam” to be a relationship orientation. Sometimes polyamory is used as an umbrella term for all forms of ethical, consensual, and loving non-monogamy.

 

 

Gender Identity

A person’s gender identity is their own internal sense of self and their gender, whether that be woman, man, neither or both. Unlike gender expression, a person’s gender identity is not outwardly visible to others (meaning nobody can tell a person’s gender just by looking at them). 

 

Gender is not the same as sex. A person’s sex is based on certain biological factors such as reproductive organs, genes and hormones and is assigned to people when they are born. People’s sex is usually defined as male, female or intersex. Intersex is when differences occur in sex development.

 

For most people, their gender identity aligns with the sex they were assigned at birth. For transgender people, their gender identity does not align with their assigned sex at birth. Here are some examples of a few (of many) different gender identities and the pride flags that go along with them. 


 

Agender

People who are agender do not identify with a particular gender, or they may have no gender at all. 


 

Androgne

People who are androgyne have genders which are simultaneously masculine and feminine or are in between masculine and feminine.  

 

 

Bigender

People who are bigender have two genders or their genders can change between two genders.

 

 

Demigender

People who are demigender have genders that partially align one gender and partially with another gender. 

 

Some demigender identities include demigirl and demiboy.


 

Genderfluid

People who are genderfluid have a gender that shifts or changes.

 

 

Genderqueer

People who are genderqueer have a gender that does not align with conventional binary gender distinctions. Their gender may be neither, both or a combination of woman or man genders. Genderqueer can mean something different for every genderqueer person.

 

For some people genderqueer can be used interchangeably with non-binary but this is not the case for everyone.

 

 

Non-Binary

People who are non-binary have a gender that does not lie within the gender binary of woman or man. Their gender may be neither, both or a combination of woman or man genders. Non-binary can mean something different for every non-binary person.

 

 

Omnigender

People who are omnigender experience and possess all genders.

 

 

Transgender

Transgender is an umbrella term that encompasses anyone who has a gender that does not align with the sex they were assigned at birth. 

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The difference between Gender Identity and Gender Expression 

Gender Identity

  •  Your own internal sense of self and gender

  • Man, woman, neither, both etc

  • Nobody can know gender identity without 

  • Doesn’t necessarily reflect gender expression

Gender Expression

  • The way you externally express your identity (external manifestation of gender)

  • Masculine, feminine, androgynous 

  • Often based off societal stereotypes and trends

  • Shown in your appearance, dress, interests, mannerisms and behaviour. 

  • Doesn’t necessarily reflect gender identity

Pronouns

Pronouns are what we use to refer to something or somebody without using their name. For example, in the sentence “Tilly ran along the beach to catch Tilly’s ball,” we can replace the second ‘Tilly’ with the pronoun ‘her’ to make the sentence sound more natural, or if we don’t know the subject's name.”Tilly ran along the beach to catch her ball”

 

Often when speaking about a person in third-person, the pronouns we use imply the gender of whoever we are talking about, even though someone’s pronouns are not necessarily connected to their gender. These implications are often unhelpful and can cause people to be negatively affected if the wrong pronouns are used for them. 

 

When we assume somebody’s pronouns without asking them first, we can mistake their gender which is disrespectful to their identity. Using someone’s correct gender pronouns is a basic way to respect them. All you need to do is ask them!

 

There are many different gender pronouns that people use for themselves. The most common ones are she/her, he/him and they/them. There are also lots of neopronouns which people use instead of the three listed before. Some neopronouns are ze/hir/hirs and xe/xem/xyr. Many people use a combination of different pronouns eg. he/they or she/he/xe. Many people also use any pronouns or none at all and are referred to by only their name.

 

Making our pronouns publicly available (in social media bios, email signatures, wearing pronoun badges and by telling people when you meet them) is a great way to let everyone know what pronouns you prefer and also to help others who could be transgender feel more comfortable about using their preferred gender pronouns.

 

Coming Out

Coming out of the closet is the term used when someone tells a person/multiple people that they are a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. Coming out can be very scary and deciding if, when, or who to come out to is completely up to an individual.

There are many reasons people chose to come out. These can include being ready to present their true self to others, being ready to start dating and want their friends/family to know, they could feel like they are living a lie and want to be accepted for who they are, they don’t want others making assumptions about them or they are tired of hearing others use incorrect stereotypes or labels. 

There are also plenty of reasons people choose not to come out, including: not being sure of who they are yet, they’re afraid of being bullied, harassed or discriminated, they’re family/friends/community don’t know and they worry about what might happen if they find out or if they live in a community that is not very LGBTQIA+ accepting. 

 

Coming out can be more complicated if a person is young and/or relies on others such as parents and caregivers. If a person lives somewhere that is acceptive of LGBTQIA+ people, they are more likely to be supported when they come out. Everyone should consider their own situation before coming out. 

 

There are ways people can help determine whether they will be accepted after coming out. One way to see what people think is by bringing up LGBTQIA+ issues by asking questions such as “ At school I’ve been reading about gay marriage. What are your thoughts on it?” This can not tell you exactly how people will react to a person coming out. Everyone can respond differently when situations affect people they know personally and a positive response from asking a question does not guarantee there will be a positive response to someone coming out to them.

 

Some things to keep in mind when considering coming out.

  1. Trust your gut - don’t feel forced to come out by friends or your situation. You might want to come out but you need to think about your own safety first.

  2. Weigh up all the possibilities - how might coming out make your situation harder or easier?

  3. Have a support system - if you can’t talk openly about you identity or you’re trying to figure out whether to come out, talking to a counsellor or an anonymous helpline can be useful.

  4. Let go of expectations - people you come out to might not react the way you expect and it could take a while for some relationships to settle back to as they were and some might change permanently.

  5. Think about privacy - can you trust the people you come out to not tell others you might not want to know.

  6. It’s a lifelong process - coming out isn’t something you will only have to do once. Over your life you will meet new people and will have to come out many times. Luckily it will get easier the more you do it but remember to put your own safety and wellbeing first every time.

 

Coming out doesn't have to be a big deal either, people have come out in many ways over the years and it can be as special or simple as they like. If you are thinking about coming out to your loved ones, have a look on social media, there are many people who film themselves coming out in fun, wholesome ways that you could take inspiration from. For starters however, you could consider making a coming out cake, using a song, balloons, via social media or by having a conversation. Coming out is all about you so do it however, whenever or wherever you want!

 

Information credit: https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/coming-out.html

 

Being an Ally

An ally is someone who stands up for, supports and encourages the people around them. In the LGBTQIA+ community it refers to a cisgendered and/or heterosexual who tries to make the world a better place for those who are LGBTQIA+. 

Ways of being a good ally include:

1. Don’t assume

Don’t assume that most people around you (classmates, friends etc)  are straight. Don’t assume anyone’s gender or pronouns. LGBTQIA+ people don’t look, act, sound, or behave a particular way and people’s current or previous relationships don’t define their sexuality. Not making assumptions can help people feel comfortable in their authentic self and open up to you in their own time.

 

2. Think of ally as an action rather than a label

To be an ally you need to be consistent in your support of LGBTQIA+ rights and support them against discrimination. Anti-LGBTQ+ comments and jokes are harmful - let your friends, family and co-workers know that as an ally you find them offensive.

 

3. Confront your own prejudices and unconscious bias

Think about the jokes you make, the pronouns you use and if you wrongly assume someone's partner is of a particular sex or gender just because of the way they look and act. LGBTQ+ prejudices can be subtle and transphobia and biphobia exist even within the LGBTQ+ community. Being a better ally means being open to the idea of being wrong sometimes and being willing to work on it. 

 

4. Know that language matters

The majority of us respect when someone changes their nickname – accommodating LGBTQ+ people’s names and pronouns are no different. If you are unsure of someone’s pronoun or label, just ask them respectfully. When meeting new people try integrating inclusive language into your regular conversations by using gender neutral terms such as ‘partner’ and keep an eye on any unintentionally offensive language you may use everyday. 

 

5. Be open to learn, listen and educate yourself.

Being supportive of LGBTQIA+ people means developing an understanding of how the world views and treats them. To learn you need to be open and listen. Educate yourself about LGBTQIA+ history, terminology and struggles that fae them today.

 

6. Check your privilege

Most people have some type of privilege, whether it be racial, class, education, being cis-gendered, able-bodied or straight. Although it doesn't mean you haven’t experienced struggle or hardship, understanding your own privileges can help you understand the struggles of those who are part of marginalised groups.

 

7. Know that you will mess up sometimes

If you’ve accidentally assumed someone’s label, unintentionally used the wrong pronoun. Don’t panic, it happens. Apologise, and correct yourself with something along the lines of: "I’m sorry, that wasn’t the word I meant to use. I’m trying to be a better ally and learn the right terminology, but I’m still working on it. If you hear me misuse something, I’d really appreciate it if you could let me know." Likely, the person you are talking to will know that this process of unlearning is new to you and will appreciate your honesty and effort!



 

Information Credit: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/students/news/2020/dec/7-ways-you-can-be-better-lgbtq-ally

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