Navigating gender identity, sexual identity, allies, foes, coming out, dating, marriage equality, and even divorce inequality can be overwhelming...


Since the beginning of human existence, 3 to12 percent of the world population has identified as Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Questioning/Queer, Intersexual or Asexual.  So, how you have been feeling, and what you have been thinking, is NOT new or's not even weird. 

As we grow up we are suppose to develop skills associated with being Human - like being able to walk, feed ourselves, talk, dress ourselves...later we learn age appropriate rules of society - what clothing is appropriate to wear to school, how to manage our time to get homework done, which slang and swear words are ok and which slang/swear words land you in a shit storm...

As teens we figure out how to appropriately behave with authority figures, how to treat people we have authority over (kids younger than you) how to deal with other teens who are the same sex as you, how to deal with others teens who are the opposite sex as you, and most importantly, who we feel sexually attracted to, and how we feel about ourselves. 

Do we agree with the sex we were assigned at birth.  Do we agree with who we are attracted to...and herein lies the difficulty for the 3 to 12 percent who DON'T agree with their sex assigned at birth, or aren't attracted, sexually, to the opposite sex.  Family of Origin rules/attitudes or religion offer shame for being "different" and heap blame for "choosing" to go against the rules...

So let me say right here and now that how you feel internally and who you are attracted to sexually is NOT a choice - NO ONE CHOOSES TO BE RIDICULED, SHAMED, OSTRACIZED FROM FAMILY - NO ONE.  So you will NEVER hear about conversion therapy from me (except to say that it is against the CAMFT ethics code, and against the law in California for anyone under the age of 18.) 

Before I get into gender identity and sexual identity I want you to know that our society, right or wrong, uses a binary system to identify gender and sexuality.  The binary system identifies "one or the other" - you are either male or female, heterosexual or homosexual.  In reality, Humans are fluid, and when we sit down together I will present you with a continuum, with "what is the societal expectation of male" on one end and "what is the societal expectation of female" on the other end.  Androgynous, which is neither/both male and female is in the middle.  And the continuum recognizes that from day to day you may feel differently about how you want to present your gender identity to the world - how you want to be seen by the world, or who you are physically/sexually attracted to.

So, what's the difference between gender identity and sexual identity? 


Gender Identity (based on physical characteristics) is what you were assigned at birth, by total strangers, as they looked at what "hardware" you were or were not born with.  Humans born with penises are assigned "male" gender, and Humans born without any visible penis are assigned "female" gender.  This is so wrong because it assumes gender is based solely in the physical body, and does not take into consideration DNA and how the brain puts all of this together.  If you DO agree with the gender you were assigned at birth, you are called Cisgender (consistent with what was assigned)  If you do NOT agree with the gender you were assigned at birth, you are called Transgender.

Sexual Identity (behavior) is who you are sexually attracted to - who do you want to have sex with, who do you want to make a family and home life with (and yes, dating and settling down are 2 DIFFERENT things...)  If you are attracted to the opposite sex you are called Heterosexual.  If you are attracted to people who are the same sex as you are, you are called Homosexual (for example, women attracted to women are called Lesbians, and men attracted to men are called Gay.)  If you are attracted to people transitioning from their (assigned at birth) sex to the sex they feel is their real sex, you are called Transexual.  If you are attracted to both male and female you are called Bisexual.  If you are attracted to the person regardless of their hardware you are called Pan.  And, yes, there are many, many more terms, as listed on the "PRIDE CALENDAR 2016", I have just discussed the most common.

Pride Calendar 2016.jpg

 How can an appropriate Affirmative Therapist help with gender and sexual id?

 A gender and sexual id Affirmative Therapist will be a wealth of information about gender and sexual history, about social laws in this country and the world, about social attitudes throughout history, about terminology, how to deal with allies and foes, how to deal with family, but most importantly, how to deal with yourself (which will include self love, self acceptance, release of shame, release of guilt because this is not a phase you are going through -THIS IS NOT A CHOICE...)

It is an honor and privilege to be in a helping profession, and I have training specifically for teens.  I would love to walk along side you and your family on your journey of discovering your true gender and sexual identity.  You can call or TXT 714.743.5612 anytime.


Basic LGBTQ Terms (updated August 2017)

Ally:     any heterosexual person who opposes heterosexism and homophobia and actively supports LGBT individuals and causes.

Bisexual:         a person who has significant romantic, emotional, physical and sexual attractions to members of both sexes. The frequency, intensity, or quality of attraction is not necessarily directed toward both sexes equally.

Cisgender:       a term used to describe those who are not-transgender – having a gender identity or performing in gender roles that society considers appropriate for one’s sex.

Coming out:    coming to terms with one’s sexual or gender identity. Can also mean stating openly that one is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. The term is usually applied to members of the LGBT community, but heterosexual people can experience a similar process of coming to terms with their sexual orientation and/or their identity as an ally.

Dyke:   although once used negatively, this term has been reclaimed by some in the LGBT community to refer to lesbian or bisexual women.

FAB:   female (gender) assigned at birth.

FTM: female-to-male. Indicates a transgender individual who was originally assigned the gender of female at birth, but has claimed a male identity through clothing, surgery, or attitude changes.

Gay:    a man whose primary romantic, emotional, physical and sexual attractions are to other men. This term can also be used to apply to lesbians, bisexuals, and on some occasions, be used as an umbrella term for all LGBT people.

Gender Identity:          how one thinks of one’s own gender (physical body).

Genderqueer:              a rejection of the gender binary (male/female) in favor of a more fluid, nontraditional identity.

Heterosexism:             the system of oppression that reinforces the belief in the inherent superiority of heterosexuality and heterosexual relationships, thereby negating gays’, lesbians’, and bisexuals’ lives and relationships.

Heterosexual:              a person who is emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted or committed to members of the opposite sex.

HeterosexualPrivilege:           The societal assumption and norm that all people are heterosexual. The basic civil rights and social privileges that a heterosexual person automatically receives, that are systematically denied to gay, lesbian, or bisexual persons, simply because of their sexual orientation.

Hir:      a non-gendered pronoun used by some transgender people. Hir (pronounced “here”) corresponds to his, her, and him, and is used as a dative and possessive pronoun (see “Se”).

Homophobia:              negative feelings, attitudes, actions or behaviors towards anyone who is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, or perceived to identify as any of the above. Internalized homophobia is a fear of same-sex tendencies within oneself and can lead to repression. Institutionalized homophobia refers to homophobic laws, policies, and positions taken by social and governmental institutions.

Homosexuality:           defines attraction to the same sex, and is one orientation on the continuum from homosexual to bisexual to heterosexual. Many prefer the terms “gay”, “lesbian”, or “bisexual” to describe their identities.

Lesbian:          a woman whose primary romantic, emotional, physical and sexual attractions are to other women.

LGBT (also GLBT):   the acronym for “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender”. The acronym may be expanded to a variation of LGBTIQA to include intersex, questioning, queer-identified people and/or allies. Can also be used as an adjective (i.e. – “I am an LGBT person.”)

MAB:  male (gender) assigned at birth

MTF: male-to-female. Indicates a transgender individual who was originally assigned the gender of male at birth, but has claimed a female identity through clothing, surgery, or attitude changes.

Queer:             not heterosexual, and not wanting to be limited by the restrictive binary labeling of either male or female. Originally used with negative connotations, but is currently being reclaimed by many within the LGBT community.

Se:       Se (pronounced “zee” or “see”) corresponds to he and she, and is used as an accusative pronoun.

Sex:     An act, series of acts, that humans do as a part of the expression of their sexual nature and their desire for love and affection. Or the identification of biological gender.

Sexual Orientation:    how one thinks of oneself in terms of to whom one is sexually or romantically attracted (behavior/activity). Orientation is not dependent on physical experience, but rather on a person’s feelings and attractions.

Transgender: used both as an umbrella term and as an identity. Broadly, it refers to those who do not identify or are uncomfortable with their assigned gender and gender roles. As an identity the term refers to anyone who transgresses traditional sex and gender categories.

Transsexual:   people who feel that their gender identity (physical being) is something other than their biological sex. Some transsexuals choose to use hormones and/or have an operation to change their physical anatomy to be congruent with their self-perception.

Transvestite:    someone who dresses according to the social norms characteristic of a gender identity that is something other than their biological sex. This may be a behavior that is expressed only at certain times and is independent of sexual orientation.