Understanding sexuality and gender
“Sexuality refers to who a person is attracted to, who they want to go out with, and who they crush on. For lots of people sexuality isn’t as simple as being straight or gay. A person’s physical sex, gender and sexuality can be confusing and complicated at times for everybody, no matter how they identify.” – Twenty10
Questioning and/or curiosity about your sexuality is a normal part of discovering and accepting who you are. Each of us can explore our sexuality, by talking to other people about their experiences, or gaining new experiences of our own, reading a range of resources such as this one and those referred to at the end of this fact sheet.
Gender is our sense of who we are – how we see ourselves as a person, perhaps as a combination of male and female, or maybe neither. There is no right or wrong way to experience gender – we are as individual and unique in our gender identity as in any other facet of our lives.
“Gender norms” are how our society expects men and women to behave and look in particular ways – most societies have pretty rigid ideas of what it means to be a man, woman, masculine, feminine. Some girls are masculine, some boys are more feminine, some feel both at the same time, while others experience themselves as being outside gender norms altogether.” – Twenty10
Coming out/Inviting in
“Coming out” can mean different things to each of us. It generally means telling other people – your friends or family, peers or colleagues – about your gender identity or sexuality. Coming out is a process, it can take time, and there are no right or wrong ways of going about it, nor is there any expectation that any of us need to share our gender identity or sexuality with others.
“It can mean realising you’re attracted to people of the same sex, perhaps calling yourself gay, lesbian or bisexual, and deciding to tell some people in your life. It can also mean that the concepts of gender…don’t fit for you.” – Twenty 10.
Some people prefer to think of this process not as “coming out” but as inviting people into that personal part of their life. It’s a privilege for others to be invited in, not a right.
Twenty10, a NSW-wide organisation that works with and supports people of diverse genders, sexes and sexualities, suggests some great tips for thinking about coming out/inviting in, which can be viewed at the following link: http://www.twenty10.org.au/s/media/coming_out_twenty10_resource.pdf It’s important to consider timing, who we will tell and where, the support we have or need, and how we’ll deal with questions or reactions.
If you are considering coming out/inviting in, you may be interested to know that UTS has an Ally program (http://www.uts.edu.au/about/equity-and-diversity/sexual-and-gender-diversity). The UTS Ally program supports the rights of all students and celebrates an inclusive, diverse and safe university community. The UTS Counselling Service has Ally trained counsellors that students can make an appointment to see.
If you’re having sex, it’s important to take care of your health. Know the facts about sexually transmissible infections (STIs) and how to stay safe.
The Sydney Sexual Health Centre at Sydney Hospital provides a confidential and comprehensive service, including screening, vaccination and management of sexually transmitted infections, as well as education and counselling.
You might also like to consider visiting the UTS Counselling. You might like to discuss questions about sexuality or sexual health, and get support around these matters from a trained professional. To make a confidential appointment with a doctor or counsellor, please call 9514 1177.
Support and information support
UTS Counselling Service
This is a free and confidential service for all enrolled students. Trained counsellors can help you understand and deal with problems relating to mental health, alcohol and other drugs, body image or eating problems, and support around matters of gender and sexuality.
Phone: 9514 1177
UTS Queer Space
Visit the UTS Queer Space for peer support on campus, located in Building 5. To gain access to the space and to join the Queer Collective please contact email@example.com
ACON is a health promotion organisation based in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities with a central focus on HIV/AIDS. They provide HIV prevention, health promotion, advocacy, care and support services.
Phone: (02) 9206 2000
Twenty 10 is an organisation for young (under 26) gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, same-sex attracted and gender-questioning people. Services covered include information, referrals, support, advocacy, counselling, support and accommodation.
Address: Level 1, 45 Chippen Street, Chippendale NSW
Metro Support: (02) 8594 9555
Rural free call: 1800 65 2010
QLife Australia free call: 1800 184 527 (daily 5:30pm to 10:30pm)
The Gender Centre Inc
The Gender Centre provides services for transgender and gender diverse people, including counselling, accommodation, case management, outreach, needle exchange, among other services.
Address: 41-43 Parramatta Road, Annandale NSW
Phone: (02) 9569 2366 (9:00am to 4:30pm Monday to Friday)
Diversity positive counselling with specialists in gender identity and sexuality matters. Medicare Rebates are available with a GP referral and bulk billing is offered to students and those on a limited income.
Address: Broadway (please contact Imanadari directly for exact address)
Phone: 0431 805 397
Fax: (02) 5524 7071
NSW Sexual Health Info Line
An information and referral telephone line staffed by specialist sexual health nurses from 9:00am to 5:30pm.
Phone: 1800 451 624
Telephone Counselling 24 hours (not specifically LGBTIQ phone counselling)
Phone: 13 11 14