By SOPHIE STONE.

 

Got questions about LGBTIQ issues? We’ve got some answers.

 

#1. How do I come out to my parents / what if they react badly?

It’s up to you to decide on the best way to come out to your parents. A pretty commonplace way is to sit them down somewhere you aren’t going to be interrupted and tell them. Ultimately, they’re your parents, and most likely want what will make you happy. Best case scenario, it isn’t a big deal at all. If your parents react badly, give them some space. News like this takes adjustment time, and hopefully in time they will come to terms with it in a relaxed way.

If you don’t feel supported by your parents it’s a good idea to seek out some kind of support network elsewhere, such as friends, other family members, or LGBTIQ organisations such as Rainbow Youth.

Another thing that may happen is that your parents ask you to leave home. To make sure you’re prepared for any outcome, suss out a friend or a family member who would be okay with you staying at their place for a few days before you come out. You can also can get in touch with your local services for finding support with a place to live.

If your parents are struggling, but want to learn more, you can recommend groups like Holding Our Own which can provide support and advice for parents of LGBTIQ kids.

 

#2. How do I reconcile my religious beliefs with my sexuality / gender?   

No matter what your religion (or non-religion) may be, you will always have worth as a person, and know that you have not done anything wrong by feeling the way you do. However you believe you came to this earth, you were made to be you, and your sexuality and gender are parts of you which are components of your unique design. You should accept, embrace and love them, because they are part of what makes you, and you are awesome. It could be good to look at your relationship with your religion as a very personal relationship. It doesn’t matter what others from the religion say, it matters how you feel. If you are at peace within yourself, you can grow in your faith.

 

#3. My friend is questioning their gender, how do I help them?                   

As a friend, the most important thing is to be supportive. While you may not fully understand what it is your friend is going through, they’re going to need support and acceptance at the moment.

You might want to do some research in order to best support them, as well as asking them if they have preferred pronouns and/or a preferred name. If they do prefer certain pronouns and/or a name, do your best to respect this and use them/it.

If they’re lucky, their parents will be supportive, however this may not be the case, and so it’s important they feel their friends have their back in this difficult time. The best thing to do is ask them lots of questions in order to have a better understanding of how to help, and listen to what they have to say about it. Most of all, understand that they are your friend and nothing will ever change that, you aren’t going to lose them, they are the same person deep down that they’ve always been, the only difference now is that you’re aware of their gender identity.

 

#4. How do I correct people when they use the wrong pronouns?

The best thing to do is to politely remind people of your correct pronouns. If they don’t already know about your pronouns you’re probably going to have to explain to them what they are and why you want to be referred to by them. Hopefully they will begin to start using them (a few slip-ups are understandable, as long as they are making a noticeable effort to use the correct ones) however if they aren’t compliant, and refuse to acknowledge you by them, you might have to point out that they’re being dehumanising. If someone completely refuses to use your pronouns despite your best efforts and it’s possible to do so, I would say take steps to distance yourself from them and remove them from your life.

 

#5. What services are there are to help with transitioning?

The first point of reference for any person wanting to transition is your GP. Then it all depends on where you live.

Primary services for medical/surgical referrals:

o   CMDHB – Kidz First (12-24)

o   WDHB – Youth Hub (10-24)

o   ADHB – Auckland Sexual Health (16-up)

o   (Wellington) Evolve/Tranzform (12-24)

Another good organisation to receive information and support from about transitioning is RainbowYOUTH.

 

#6. I think I might not be heterosexual. How would I know for sure?

If you feel as though you might not be heterosexual, that’s completely fine. At this stage it’s possible you may just be curious, or going through a phase, however it’s also entirely possible that you are gay, bisexual, pansexual, or any other sexuality that is covered under the LGBTIQ community. This is completely fine, and at the moment you don’t really need to stress too much about it. If you feel like you want to experiment with the opposite sex, then by all means, go ahead. As long as you are doing so safely, with a willing partner, then you aren’t doing anything bad or wrong.

 

#7. I think I might be transgender. What do I do?

Once again at this stage it is possible that you may be trans, and it’s also possible that you might not be. Either is completely fine. Perhaps look into the reasons which cause you to question your gender identity. A symptom pretty much all trans people have is gender dysphoria, defined as “the condition of feeling one’s emotional and psychological identity as male or female to be opposite to one’s biological sex” If this sounds like you, you might want to do some more research into this by getting in contact with LGBTIQ or trans-specific support groups. If rather than feeling as though you identify as the other sex, you simply feel as though you aren’t cisgender, (or someone who identifies with the gender they were assigned at birth), it’s possible you may be nonbinary, or a different gender. Again, a good idea is to do some research and get in touch with local support groups.

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