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Open Door Network

FAQ: Sexual Orientation and Gender Equity

Myths about Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

I don’t know any lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered people.

You may not know any LGBTQ people who are “out” to you, but you likely do know some. Research suggests that more than 5% of the population is lesbian or gay or bisexual. The prevalence of transgendered people is more difficult to estimate because transgendered people often “pass” as the gender they identify with and do not want to be known as the sex that they were assigned at birth.

You can “spot” a lesbian, gay man or trans-identified person.

For the most part, you can only “spot” LGBTQ people if they want to be identified. Don’t let stereotypes fool you. There are feminine, masculine and androgynous appearing men who are straight, bisexual, transgendered, and gay. There are also feminine, masculine and androgynous appearing women who are straight, bisexual, transgendered and lesbian. What we do know, however, is that any person, straight or gay, who does not look or act the way a “man” or “woman” is supposed to, might be targeted for harassment.

Gay and bisexual men sexually abuse children.

Heterosexual men represent about 90% of sexual abusers. Boys are also sexually abused by some straight men.

Being lesbian, gay, or bisexual is abnormal and perverted.

The Canadian Psychological and Psychiatric Associations consider people who desire same sex relationships to be healthy and normal. The American Psychological Association stated that “It is no more abnormal or sick to be homosexual than to be left-handed”.

Lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals “flaunt” their sexual identity.

One could argue that it is heterosexuals who continuously “flaunt” their sexuality with wedding rings, pictures in the office, and constant references to their opposite sex partners. Same sex lovers are often criticized for engaging in affectionate behaviour that goes unnoticed in heterosexual couples.

Early abuse or problems with brain chemistry cause people to be lesbian or gay.

We don’t know what causes differences in sexual identity. Some believe that their identity was chosen or developed later in life, while others believe that they were “born that way”. We do know that social forces pressure all of us to be heterosexual.

AIDS is a gay disease.

AIDS is caused by a virus. Viruses infect all kinds of people, regardless of their sexual orientation. AIDS is spread through the exchange of bodily fluids such as blood, semen and breast milk. Some people have contracted AIDS from sharing intravenous needles. While AIDS has been contracted by a large number of gay men, it has also been contracted by an increasingly large number of heterosexual men and women as well as children and even infants.

Transgendered people are unnatural. The sex assigned to us at birth is our “real” sex and gender.

The sex assigned to us at birth is not necessarily our “real” sex or gender. Transgendered people experience a very painful discrepancy between their core sense of gender identity and their bodies. For some, surgery or hormone therapy can help resolve that discrepancy. Even our clear cut ideas about biological sex are unfounded. About 4% of the population are born to some extent with ambiguous genitalia or the sex characteristics of both sexes. This is largely hidden from mainstream society because these children, called intersexed, are often surgically altered to bring them in line with social expectations about sex and gender.

LBBTQ people are promiscuous.

LGBTQ people are neither more nor less sexually promiscuous than heterosexual people. Some heterosexuals and gays and lesbians are involved in long term, monogamous relationships while others may have multiple partners. Some remain celibate.

Bisexuals are just sex fiends: they’ll do it with anyone.

There is no evidence to suggest that bisexuals are more sexually active than anyone else. Bisexual women and men are emotionally and sexually attracted to both genders. They may be with women at one point in their lives and men at another time.

Homosexuality only exists in Western society. Immigrants to the West who come from traditional societies only have to deal with homosexuality here.

LGBTQ people exist in all cultures even though they may go by different names. For example, in some Native cultures, gay and transgendered people are called “Two-Spirited” and are seen as having a special role because they have the qualities of both sexes. However, in some countries where homosexuality is criminal or strictly forbidden, it is difficult to see any LGBTQ people because they have to constantly hide their identity.