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Pride Month

Why do we have Pride Month?

June is usually Pride Month, which is an opportunity to celebrate and raise awareness of the experiences of those who identify as LGBTQ+. The reason June was declared as Pride Month, was to commemorate the Stonewall riots, a series of protests by members of the LGBTQ+ community in New York in late June 1969.

The Stonewall Riots were considered a major turning point for the fight for LGBTQ+ rights, both in the US and UK, especially as homosexuality had only been partially legalised in the UK just two years earlier. Since 1969, LGBTQ+ rights have thankfully moved forward across most of the western world. However, in recent years there has been a lot of anti LGBTQ+ movements, where rights of the community are under attack (especially the rights of Transgender people.) Pride Month is still important today to both commemorate the fight for LGBTQ+ rights across the world, but also to raise awareness that this fight is far from over.

Whilst there have been huge steps forward in recent decades around LGBTQ+ rights and awareness, LGBTQ+ people have always existed across time, and we see many representations of the community across history and cultures. The steps taken in recent decades is now helping to create a wider atmosphere of acceptance, especially among the young generations. In fact, in a 2021 study of over 12,000 Americans, researchers found that over 20% of Generation Z (Born 1997-2003) self-identified as LGBTQ+. The author of the poll stated that that LGBTQ+ young people/adults are much more likely, because of their current environment, to acknowledge their identity and/or sexuality, and to accept it, compared to people in the past.

How can I better understand LGBTQ+ terms?

We understand that due to this amazing new wave of acceptance from the younger generations, it can seem that lots of the language around LGBTQ+ issues feels new, and perhaps even a little difficult to understand for some. We feel it’s important to have open, non-judgemental conversations with people around this subject, in order to explore and educate ourselves further. A resource one of our therapists often uses when discussing LGBTQ+ issues, is the Genderbread Person (seen in the image below.) This can be very helpful to explain the different aspects of ourselves and can often help with any confusion around LGBTQ+ sexualities and identities.

The Genderbread Person

There are 4 different aspects of every person; Anatomical Sex, Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sexual Orientation, and each of these are on separate spectrums.

As demonstrated in the image, none of these things are equal to each other (for example, someone who’s anatomical sex is female, doesn’t necessarily identity as female, nor does this mean they are attracted to men.) We’ve broken them down below to help explain further:

Anatomical Sex –This refers to the physical structure of a person’s reproductive organs that is used to assign sex at birth. Many think that all people are biologically categorised as Male or Female, however anatomical sex also sits on a spectrum, with Intersex people in the middle. There are millions of people around the world who have biological characteristics that do not fit the typical characterisation of Male or Female. Intersex is an umbrella term, used to describe a range of natural variations that can affect genitals, hormones, chromosomes, or reproductive organs. Around 1.7% of the population are born with intersex traits, this is the same percentage as those born with red hair. Its important to note that being Intersex is not the same as being Transgender. The word ‘Intersex’ relates to physical sex characteristics and not to an internal sense of identity like Transgender, as sex and gender are separate.

Gender Identity – This is a person’s own individual experience of gender and how they identify internally. For many, their gender identity is the same as the sex they were assigned at birth due, but for others it’s not.

If we think of gender identity as a spectrum, with Man at one end, Woman at the other and non-Binary in between. Some people may move through this spectrum in their life, others remain fixed, there is no right or wrong. Gender identity is a personal feeling, and we as an individual are the best person to know what identifier matches how we feel. Sometimes, it might feel difficult to acknowledge when someone tells you they identify differently than you thought, especially a child or young person. We understand this can be a big thing to process and it’s okay if it takes you some time, be honest if its difficult for you, but also remember to trust someone when they tell you who they are and allow them the space to exist and/or explore their own identity safely without judgement.

Gender Expression –

This is how someone chooses to express themselves, through the way they dress, speak, act etc. How someone physically looks, acts, or dresses, doesn’t always reflect their gender identity. For example, just because someone likes to wear masculine clothing, it doesn’t mean they identify as male, or vice versa.

Gender expression can be difficult to understand, as society has a set of “rules” as to how men and women express themselves. To help explain this, think back several decades to when women wore dresses and men wore pants, this was the “rule” of gender expression set by society. In fact, it wasn’t until the 1960’s/70’s that this “rule” began to change, and pants became everyday fashion for women. We still have “rules” in place today, such as “women wear makeup” and “men wear trousers”. Gender expression can be breaking these binary “rules” and expressing yourself in any way you want to, it has nothing to do with the gender you identify with or the sex you were assigned at birth.

Sexual Orientation – This refers to how someone identifies in relation to who they’re attracted to (both romantically and sexually.) Sexual orientation can be heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual etc.

There are many different types of sexualities, ranging from asexual (someone who experiences little/no sexual attraction towards other people) to pansexual (someone who is sexually attracted to others regardless of their gender identity.) Again, sexual orientation has nothing to do with how you identify, the sex you were assigned at birth or your gender expression.

Why not have a closer look at the Genderbread Person, share the image and descriptions with others and if you feel able to, perhaps use it to encourage open conversations within your own household, work/school and social circles.

To help both adults and young people explore LGBTQ+ history, issues, and terminology further, we’ve put together a useful list of links below for you to access: - If you’re a parent or carer of a young person who identifies as LGBTQ+, then we recommend checking out FFLAG, which is a national voluntary organisation, offering information and support to parents/carers of LGBTQ+ children. Among many things, they have great information booklets to download, support groups, a helpline and email support all for parents/carers and wider families.

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