Human Sexuality

Human Sexuality

Human sexuality is vast and varied thing, and is best thought of as being on a continuum.

For the purposes of this blurb and acknowledging this is simplifying things quite a lot, we can make a distinction between three different aspects of human sexuality.

One is gender, another is sexual orientation and another is sexual identity. Sometimes we feel confused, unclear, anxious, or otherwise unsure about one or some or all of these. Sometimes we are not unclear or unsure, but the people around us respond badly to our gender or our sexual orientation or our sexual identity or our sexual identity, and this causes us problems.

CATEGORY: Relationships

SOURCES: APS | verywellmind.com | BMD

Number: #19

 

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A study released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing in 2023 (5,500 people aged 16 to 85 years old during 2020-2021) showed that more than two in five Australians experience a mental health issue in their lifetime. In 2020–21 more than 3.4 million Australians sought help from a health care professional for their mental health.

The study is published at https://abs.gov.au/statistics/health/mental-health/national-study-mental-health-and-wellbeing/2020-21

Questioning sexuality often happens during the teen years as identity forms, but questioning one’s sexual orientation can occur at any age. Adults are often better equipped to explore and understand their sexual identities more fully. Sexuality can also change with age.

Questioning your sexuality can be a journey of discovery, but it can also bring feelings of stress. Learning more about yourself can help you find joy in healthy sexual relationships and affirm your sexuality.

No matter what age you are, or what your relationship and sexual background is, it’s perfectly okay for you to delve further into understanding your own orientation. One study that examined the sexual orientations of people from teenage years through early adulthood suggested that sexual orientation development continues throughout emerging adulthood.

Sexual orientation can change at any time of your life. If you’re experiencing a shift in your own attractions, your sexuality may be changing. There’s nothing wrong with that. For one thing, as we age we get to know ourselves better, and we may be able to acknowledge facets of ourselves that we couldn’t before.

Additionally, as we age our priorities change. What you once found attractive in others might now be off-putting. For some people, their sexuality never stops changing. Those people might consider themselves sexually fluid for life.

Uncertainty & Confusion

Some people experience feelings of isolation, shame and fear of rejection when trying to understand their sexual selves. Confusion about your sexuality, identity, or orientation can lead to difficulty in developing a strong sense of self.  You may also be overwhelmed with anxiety about what you and others believe is socially appropriate.

You may also be experiencing problems within your family or friendship circles as a result of your sexuality, or with work or other places or people in your life.

You may feel quite lost, confused and alone. You may not know anyone else with a non-cis, non-het identity and so you may not feel like you have anyone safe or knowledable to talk to about what’s happening for you.

All these things can cause a lot of anxiety, stress, low mood and loneliness and it is important that these impacts are acknowledged and treated and that you seek support. There are lots of online support resources and spaces and tallking to a psychologist can be another good way to access safe support and assistance working through everything.

Terms & Their Meaning

 

Here are some brief explanations of the most known sexual identities:

There are more options in regards to sexual orientation than those represented in the acronym LGBTQIA, but that term is the most well known. Here is what the words in that acronym stand for.

Lesbian

A lesbian is a woman who is attracted to people of her same gender. Usually, people who identify as lesbians do not partner with people other than women. 

Gay

A gay person is someone who is attracted to people of their same gender, and the term is often used to describe men who are attracted to other men. However, women can identify as gay instead of or in addition to identifying as lesbian.

Bisexual

Someone who is bisexual is attracted to more than one gender. If someone thinks they may be bisexual but isn’t yet sure, they may identify as bi-curious.

Transgender

A trans, or transgender, person is someone whose gender identity is different from the sex they were assigned at birth. As mentioned above, gender identity is not the same as sexual orientation. Because of the overlap of the two topics, though, particularly in regards to the fight for human rights as marginalized people, the transgender label is included in LGBTQIA+. Nonbinary and genderqueer identities also fall under this umbrella.

Queer or Questioning

Queer is an umbrella term for anyone who isn’t heterosexual. Being queer means that a person isn’t straight, but it doesn’t provide any details about who they are or aren’t attracted to. Questioning is the word for people who are in the process of discovering their sexual orientation. You can be questioning at any age, for as long as is appropriate for your unique journey.

Intersex

People who are intersex were born with bodies that don’t fit completely into the male/female gender binary. Just like the transgender label, intersex is not a sexual identity. The term gets placed in with sexual orientations for the same reason as transgender does, because advocacy is necessary for this marginalised group. 

Asexual

Asexuality is the term for a person who doesn’t experience sexual attraction to other people. It’s considered a spectrum, meaning that some people who are asexual will experience more attraction than others, but to be on the asexual spectrum implies that sexual attraction isn’t a typical part of your day to day life. Individuals who are asexual may refer to themselves as “ace.”

Greysexuality, or graysexuality, also falls under the asexual identity. Someone who identifies as grey/graysexual may be rarely attracted to other people, but not so rarely that they fully identify as asexual.

Plus (+)

The + symbol at the end of LGBTQIA denotes that there are more identities than just the ones in that acronym. For some people, none of the terms in LGBTQIA accurately describe their sexuality. These are some less-known but still equally real identities:

  • Pansexual: Someone who is pansexual is attracted to all genders of people.
  • Demisexual: A person who only becomes attracted to other people once they have formed an emotional bond can be described as demisexual.
  • Sapiosexual: People whose attraction to others is based on intellect identify as sapiosexual.
  • Skoliosexual: This newer term refers to those who are usually attracted to people who fall outside the typical gender binary. That means that trans, nonbinary, or genderqueer people may be the ones that a skoliosexual person is generally attracted to.

Therapy | Treatment

 

When it comes to understanding and accepting all aspects of your own sexuality, you may not have any problems at all.

However, if you experience for example gender dysphoria, or feel confused about your orientation or about what your orientation might mean in your life, or have been rejected or abandoned or otherwise hurt or impacted by issues related to your sexual self, seeing a therapist may a really helpful thing to do.

In therapy you can analyse what you are thinking, what you are feeling and why this is so. Therapy can assist you in finding clarity about your sexuality and accepting yourself for who you are will enable you to start letting go of societal pressures and family expectations.

A psychologist can also offer support in your decision making process around issues such as coming out and building healthy romantic relationships.

If you’re questioning your sexual orientation, there are a number of simple and easy emotional exercises you can conduct to help reach yourself and your attraction on a deeper level. Start by asking yourself one or more of these questions:

  1. What imagery resonates with you? When you see photos of couples or families, which ones tug at your heartstrings or your libido? Do you feel feelings of envy or hope when you see same-gender couples?
  2. What’s in your imagination? When you close your eyes and envision your perfect partner, are they a specific gender? If so, is their gender different from those you’ve partnered with up to this point?
  3. Separate the dogma you’ve learned from your true self: as we go through life, we absorb a lot of ideologies about what’s “right” or “good.” If you focus on getting those out of the way, does your idea of who you’re attracted to change?