LGBTQ+ Student Resources
The Counseling & Psychological Services staff at the University of West Florida are committed to promoting and enhancing the well-being of all students. This includes individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, asexual, transgender, intersex, queer, questioning, or any other term that best encompasses the intersection of an individual's gender identity and sexual orientation.
All sexual orientations and gender identities are a natural and valid part of each individual. The following are some of the struggles we help students work through:
- Exploring one's Sexual Orientation and/or Gender Identity
- Exploring the Coming Out Process
- Challenges associated with Homophobia, Biphobia, Transphobia and Heterosexism
- Dating/Relationship Issues
- Career Issues
- Family Issues
- Integration of Sexual Orientation and/or Gender Identity with other identities (i.e., race/ethnicity, religious/spiritual affiliations, political ideologies, family of origin)
Based on the work of Fritz Klein, our staff works with clients based on the idea that sexual orientation is composed of multiple factors including sexual attraction, sexual fantasy, sexual behavior, emotional preference, and social preference. Each factor contributes to an individual's sexual orientation and each factor is both fluid (constantly changing with experience) and interconnected (impacting the other factors).
A term describing the nature of a person's attraction (physical or emotional) to people. It is the culturally defined set of meanings through which people describe their sexual attractions. Sexual orientation is fluid and can shift over time. Sexual orientation has at least three parts:
- Sexual Identity
A term used to identify women who are attracted to women in a romantic, erotic and/or emotional sense.
A term used to identify men who are attracted to men in a romantic, erotic, and/or emotional sense.
A person emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to males/men/masculinity and females/women/femininity.
One who does not feel the desire to act on attractions sexually.
- Different people may experience different levels of sexual desire.
- Some may distinguish between romantic and sexual attraction.
- May also identify as lesbian, gay, bi, straight, etc.
An umbrella term used to describe someone who's gender identity and/or sexual orientation is non-traditional.
A term used to describe someone who is exploring their sexual identity or attractions to people.
Many other sexual orientations exist, such as Fluid, Omnisexual, Same-gender-loving, Polysexual, Ambisexual, Demisexual, Heteroflexible, Bi-curious, Pansexual, etc. Please consult our Resource List for additional information about different sexual orientations.
A biologically based and socially constructed determination of a person's label of "female" or "male". This is often based on a doctor's visual assessment of a baby's genitalia.
The set of meanings assigned by a culture or society to someone's perceived biological sex. Gender is fluid and can shift over time. Gender has at least three parts:
- Physical Markers
This is unique to every individual and can be fluid. A person's gender identity may not always match the sex they were assigned at birth.
A person whose gender identity and/or expression are/is different from that typically associated with their assigned sex at birth.
Visit the SDRC Public All Gender Accessible Restrooms web page for a list of public all-gender restrooms on the UWF campus.
As a guide to better understanding Gender and concepts related to Gender, itspronouncedmetrosexual.com uses a "Genderbread Person" as a metaphor to show how the various ingredients of gender mix together differently for different people.
Follow this link to visit our Genderbread Person web page. If that whet's your appetite for more information on Gender, visit the Breaking through the binary: Gender explained using continuums web page for more details.
Gender Identity FAQs
Why are some people transgender or trans?
There is no one reason, but experts suggest people are transgender due to a mix of hormonal, prenatal, and other biological factors, as well as life experiences.
What name and pronouns should I use for a trans person?
Ask what name and pronouns a person uses and USE them.
There are some pronouns that people might identify with other than he and she, right?
Yes, for example: they/them, ze/hir, initials, and many others.
What about sex change surgeries? When do transgender people have them and how do they work?
The terms "sex-change" and "sex-change surgeries" are no longer used because these terms do not accurately describe what we now call gender affirming procedures. Some transgender individuals may choose to have gender affirming procedures and some may not.
Gender affirmation or transitioning are preferred terms for biological/social steps transgender individuals may take. Each person's transition is a personal path, a series of decisions that brings the person closer to presenting themselves in a way that is congruent to their gender identity. There is no one procedure or change that validates a person's gender identity. The transition process is different for every individual.
According to the Intersex Society of North America, "Intersex" is a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn't seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male. For example, a person might be born appearing to be female on the outside, but having mostly male-typical anatomy on the inside. Or a person may be born with genitals that seem to be in-between the usual male and female types. Or a person may be born with mosaic genetics, so that some of her cells have XX chromosomes and some of them have XY.
Is a person who is intersex a hermaphrodite?
No. The term “hermaphrodite” is a mythological term that implies that a person is both fully male and fully female. This is a physiologic impossibility. The words “hermaphrodite” and “pseudo-hermaphrodite” are stigmatizing and misleading words.
What's the difference between being transgender and having an intersex condition?
People who have intersex conditions have anatomy that is not considered typically male or female. Most people with intersex conditions come to medical attention because doctors or parents notice something unusual about their bodies. In contrast, people who are transgender have an internal experience of gender identity that is different from most people. People who identify as transgender are usually people who are born with typical male or female anatomies, but their internal experience of their gender identity is different from their gender assigned at birth.
An LGBTQ+ Ally is one who is aligned with the LGBTQ+ movement and supports LGBTQ+ individuals. How to be an Ally:
- Build your knowledge and know resources
- Check your privilege
- Avoid assumptions and sterotypes
- Ask questions and don't be afraid of making mistakes
- Come out as an Ally
- Listen first and address feelings
- Ask open-ended, positive questions
- Respect confidentiality and respect the courage of the person coming to you
- Know when and how to seek help
- Help, but don't force
As A Leader
- Incorporate inclusive language
- Be a role model for those around you
- Show your support and diversity in the materials that surround you
- Confront homophobia, transphobia, and heterosexism activity
- Open up the space for dialogue on LGBTQ+ issues
For links to other resources, please visit our Additional LGBTQ+ Resources web page.