LGBT Issues

LGBT Issues


Alternate sexual and gender identities are part of our society and here to stay, regardless of whether one likes it or not. Sexuality and gender identity are something people can struggle with all their life, not just when in one's teens where life seems to be about figuring everything else out.

The LGBT term literally means "Lesbian / Gay / Bisexual / Transgender" however it has come to mean much more today, and is generally seen as an "umbrella" term to encapsulate most non-heterosexual preferences and identities. Many in the LGBT community define gender as something that is fluid, meaning there are many more possible permutations of sexuality other than simply the 4 abbreviations within LGBT. A common misnomer when it comes to alternate gender identities, is to simply think about transgendered people, i.e. someone born as a female but identifies as a male or vice versa. However, it can be more complicated than that. Since many people consider their gender as fluid (moving back and forth on a non-delineated spectrum) there is really not a pinpoint definition that can globally apply. At one point a person might prefer to identify as male, and then later on, prefer to be female. Still others see themselves without gender at all. However, despite "LGBT" being inaccurate as a strict definition, nevertheless it has come to be used commonly to describe the whole 'community' of alternate sexual identity.

Common issues faced by those in the LGBT community are pretty much the same issues that anyone else would face since LGBT people are throughout society, at our work, in the military, living in our communities. Issues of acceptance, self-doubt, isolation, low self-esteem, confusion, or family discord may be frequently experienced. Effective therapy requires that a therapist have a sympathetic understanding of how these issues are felt and experienced by the individual.

Challenges Faced by Those on the LGBT Spectrum

Neither alternate sexuality nor alternate gender identity themselves are mental issues, despite that many countries considered them to be until recent years, and some even still have such laws in place. The US, for instance, had homosexuality on its list of diagnosable mental conditions until the 1970s, and someone who was discovered to be homosexual or even thought to be would be sent into a mental institution or another place for reconditioning with the hope that they could be reconditioned back to heterosexuality. Although the problems for people with alternate sexuality and gender identity do not necessarily stop the older they get, it is most prevalent among teenagers.

Suicide rates among LGBT teens and young adults are higher than the general population, and that same age group has one of the highest rates of suicide attempts among any other group. Many will attempt suicide simply because they are confused and don’t feel like they fit in anywhere. Because the rate of homosexuality, for instance, is still very low among the general population, depending on where an LGBT youth lives, they might not be able to find support from people who are also going through what they are, or already have gone through it. A lack of support can often lead to depression if they weren’t already suffering from it, which can lead to extremely self-destructive behavior. Bullying is also prevalent, especially for those still in school. Bullying of LGBT teens is one of the leading causes of suicide among that group.

Transgendered people and those with other alternate gender identities face a lot of the same issues as those with alternate sexualities; they’re bullied because they’re different, and people don’t understand it so they think the person is wrong or they’re afraid of them. Transgendered individuals have their own set of problems too, though; they often experience a condition called gender dysphoria, which is significant discontent with their assigned sex. Those who feel they are actually male but are born female, for example, might hate their breasts. Gender dysphoria can range from simply being unhappy to actively trying to remove their sexual organs by mutilating themselves.

How Being on the LGBT Spectrum Affects Family

Your experience with how your family accepts you will be different from other people’s experiences. Alternate sexual and gender identities still aren’t quite accepted by society. Families tend to range from extremely accepting, to willing to toss their underage child out of the house because the parents don’t accept them and the child isn’t willing to try to change themselves.

However, family of LGBT people need to remember that in order for you to function in society and be willing to accept yourself, they need to be accepting of you. Even if things like religion and personal beliefs get in the way, they can still support their loved ones for something that is not a choice.


Relgious belief can greatly affect the perception of individuals who are non-heterosexual.  In many Muslim countries, for example, especially ones governed by Sharia law, homosexuality is a crime with a sentence of prison or worse. In Canada and the United States, a pillar of our freedom is one that grants freedom of religion and belief (or non belief). It is a great thing that in our free society, people are not persecuted by the government simply for their personal beliefs, and we hope it remains that way. If we are to be a free and tolerant society, we must recognize the freedom of individuals to live according to their own faith, so long as they are not directly causing harm or oppressing someone else. In this light, a tolerant society should do two things: First, religious people should be accepting that LGBT people live in our society and respect their freedom and value their dignity like any other human being. And second, LGBT people should also accept that a world religion that views homosexuality as a sin should not be banned from the earth, or its followers condemned from society either. A tolerant society is one where religious people are allowed to believe according to their faith, and respect the freedom of those who do not believe the same way....and in turn, those who do not believe the same way should also respect those who do.

Tolerance does not mean approval, nor does it mean condoning. There is no reason why a believer of a particular faith cannot tolerate a non-believer. And this also applies vice versa...the non-believer of a particular faith should also be tolerant of the believer. Not everyone will believe like you, and that is ok. It doesn't mean you agree, it doesn't mean you approve, it just means "live, and let live:" If Islam or Christianity says that a particular lifestyle is a sin, it is not the right path to take to demand an entire religion be changed or its followers ostracized. Instead, people in a free society should simply allow disagreements and respect freedom. And in reverse...those who follow the religion should also not demand that people in a particular lifestyle be 'changed' because they too, have the same protected freedom as anyone else. If only more people could agree to disagree....

How Therapy Can Help

Many LGBT people end up in therapy. Sometimes it’s required because they’ve attempted to commit suicide, but there’s no shame in going because you want to sort things out. If you’re transgendered and want to get gender reassignment surgery, you will, in fact, be required to go to gender therapy so that you can be evaluated on the best way to go forward, whether you are struggling with your gender identity or not.

Therapy with the right psychologist can be extremely helpful; talking with someone that does not know you as well can help provide you with a fresh perspective on your alternate sexuality or gender identity, and what you hope to accomplish in life in relation to it. If you’re struggling on deciding just exactly how things are, it can also be helpful in that light to talk it out with someone, or to have someone tell you that you don’t necessarily need to pin yourself to a specific identity, especially if you are young. Combined with treatment for depression, therapy can be a useful tool to prevent LGBT youth and older from turning to harming themselves or even suicide to get away from their problems.

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