In life, it can be difficult to figure out your interests and dislikes. For example, which music is preferred, what groups to be a part of and socialize with, trial and error with sports leagues, and finding the most comfortable yet hip style of clothing to wear. Every individual faces these challenges.
However, others may have problems with sexual or gender identity. The LGBTQIA community celebrates equality for everyone despite their gender identity or sexual orientation. Once a person is confident with their stage, coming out is the next phase, which can be nerve-racking.
It may be difficult to find the support needed when being part of the LGBTQIA community can be a sensitive and personal topic to discuss. Mental health professionals that specialize in working with LGBTQIA individuals can guide you in your journey and help you manage the effects of stigmatism and feeling out of place.
What Is the LGBTQIA Community?
Currently, there is no broadly-accepted acronym for individuals who have established they do not identify as heterosexual and present their gender in different ways. However, the most commonly used acronym is LGBTQ+. LGBTQ+ stands for:
- Lesbian: A woman who is sexually attracted to another female
- Gay: A man who is sexually attracted to another male
- Bisexual: A person who is sexually attracted to both genders
- Transgender: A person whose gender identity is different from the sex assigned at birth
- Queer or questioning: Determination of gender identity/sexual orientation
LGBTQIA is another term more commonly used in the community today. IA stands for intersex and asexual.
- Intersex: A person born with a combination of both male and female biological traits
- Asexual: Not feeling sexual attraction toward anyone
Understanding the meaning behind gender identity and sexual orientation, in addition to learning to express each one, is a typical development task that varies across children, adolescents, and young adults. This is part of normal development. The process is unique to each individual and should be approached on an individual basis.
LGBTQIA Discrimination and Mental Health Effects
A study in the Journal of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered Health Research found that LGBTQIA individuals have been at risk for a variety of psychiatric health conditions. Major discrimination contributes to poor mental health.
In comparison to people who identify as heterosexual or cisgender, LGBTQIA individuals show an increased level of psychological distress. This could lead to the diagnosis of anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders. The LGBTQIA community needs greater mental health services. If this is not achieved, they are more likely to report unmet mental healthcare concerns due to discrimination from heterosexual individuals.
According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (OASH), LGBTQIA adolescents are more likely to drink alcohol or use illicit drugs. Due to this circumstance, they experience more major discrimination and report worse mental health conditions than those who identify as heterosexual or cisgender.
As stated by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), if you or a loved one has experienced discrimination based on their sexual orientation, sex, disability, or gender identity when researching gender-affirming healthcare, you can lodge a complaint with the HHS Office for Civil Rights.
Benefits of Coming Out
Coming out can be a lifelong process that can allow an individual to develop mentally. When receiving positive feedback from loved ones or peers, coming out can bring a great sense of relief and increase a person’s self-esteem.
Hiding certain attributes or lying about your identity can cause a lot of anxiety and distress. It can often make a person feel less than others in fear of judgment. Living a double life can be overwhelming or stressful, but finally coming out can open up a window to further connections with others in the same social circle.
Being prepared for positive or negative reactions can be beneficial for a person facing the adverse effects of keeping their identity a secret. Some relationships may become more genuine or change permanently. Opening up can give you the ability to find a potential partner. Deciding to reveal your true self can be liberating both mentally and physically, as your mental state can define your physical health. You should be proud of who you are!
Moving Forward With Support
Choosing to reach out for help can be a positive life-changing choice. Instead of facing challenges alone, joining LGBTQIA support groups can be beneficial. They can provide great comfort and offer future opportunities to meet other people facing similar experiences.
Family-based interventions and school counseling can help a person cope with their emotions and personal journey. LGBTQIA counseling or individual therapy can improve a person’s mental health by managing symptoms that come with depression, gender dysphoria, discrimination, and anxiety. Therapy can also assist with providing an individual with strategies in preparation for coming out to friends and family.
In comparison to those who identify as heterosexual or cisgender, LGBTQIA individuals show an increased level of psychological distress. Deciding to receive professional care can help you or a loved one learn new strategies to cope with discrimination. At 12 South Recovery, our team of healthcare professionals can help you find relief from the mental effects that come with defining your identity. With our in-house team of expert mental health therapists, we strive to provide compassionate, individualized care using the most cutting-edge, evidence-based modes of treatment for mental health disorders. If you or a loved one feel that you would benefit from our services, call 12 South Recovery at 866-839-6876 for more information.