Sexuality encompasses the whole way an individual goes about expressing themselves as a sexual being. It illustrates how important sexual expression is in a person’s life; how we choose to convey that sexuality and any preference we may have towards the type of sexual partner we choose. Sexuality should not be viewed in a restrictive way as it is inclusive of a person’s psychological, physical, spiritual and social well being.
Sexual orientation is a term used to refer to a person's emotional, romantic, and sexual attraction to individuals of a particular gender (male or female).
Sexual orientation generally is divided into 3 categories:
• Bisexual: attracted to members of either sex
• Lesbian and gay: attracted to individuals of one's own sex
• Heterosexual: attracted to individuals of the opposite sex
How you label yourself is not that important, what is important is that you are comfortable in your own sexuality. There are no rules or laws stating that you have to be one thing or the other. What counts is that you have the relationships that make you happy; this could be with a man, women or both. You decide and don't let others push you into anything that you are not comfortable with.
Sex and Gender
Gender is about who you are and the way you behave and identify with other people. This can also be influenced by other people's expectations of you. For example people expect you to behave differently if you are a man or woman, boy or a girl. Most people identify as the gender usually associated with their biological sex. Some people do not, and sometimes these people may identify as trans, transexual, transgender or genderqueer.
Sex refers to our biological differences; chromosomes, hormonal profiles, internal and external sex organs. Some people can and do choose to alter these biological differences, for example, transexuals (see below).
Transgender – In Scotland, it is currently common to use the terms transgender people or trans people as ‘umbrella’ terms to cover the many diverse ways in which people can find their personal experience of their gender differs from the assumptions and expectations of the society they live in.
A male-to-female (MTF) transsexual woman (trans woman) is someone who was labelled male at birth but has a female gender identity, and therefore transitions to live completely and permanently as a woman.
A female-to-male (FTM) transsexual man (trans man) is someone who was labelled female at birth but has a male gender identity, and therefore transitions to live completely and permanently as a man.I
Intersex people - Sometimes a baby’s external genitals, their internal reproductive system or their chromosomes are in between what is considered clearly male or female. People born with these kinds of variations are often referred to as intersex people and there are many different intersex conditions.
People who cross-dress as the opposite gender for emotional satisfaction, erotic pleasure, or just because they feel more comfortable doing so. They may feel a strong recurring desire to cross-dress but are generally happy with their birth gender and have no wish to alter the physical characteristics of their bodies.
If you are transgender and accessing a sexual health service, a great deal of sensitivity is required with regards to issues around your body image. If you are transsexual you should be acknowledged in your true gender and any referrals made should be appropriate It is important that you get the service you want and that your needs are met. Staff at our Central Sexual Health Clinics can provide you with support and put you in touch with the specialist Gender Identity Clinic at the Sandyford Initiative in Glasgow. www.sandyford.org
Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)
Information about PrEP, what it is and who should use it. If you want more information about PrEP contact your local Sexual Health Services
You may also find the following links useful:
Coming Out , information for young Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual
Coming out can be a difficult process, particularly as an older woman. Some women come bounding out of the 'closet', some may come out in stages, others may never come out; this is their choice and no-one has the right to force that process.