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Why Therapy Can Be Beneficial for LGBTQ+ People

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Even though being a part of the LGBTQ+ community is not a mental illness, many queer people experience mental health challenges. The bisexual and transgender communities have the highest mental health issues within the LGBTQ+ community

Use of gendered language in a study and source material. 

Mentions of mental health, suicide. 

Even though being a part of the LGBTQ+ community is not a mental illness, many queer people experience mental health challenges. The bisexual and transgender communities have the highest mental health issues within the LGBTQ+ community. In addition, younger members of the LGBTQ+ community are the most at risk for struggles with mental health concerns out of every age group. 

Many LGBTQ+ folks are resilient and thrive against barriers with their loved ones and community support. According to one study, LGBTQ+ people accessed mental health services at 2.5 times higher than their straight counterparts. However, these individuals are at particular risk for encountering discrimination and other traumatic occurrences.

In addition, many people who identify as LGBTQ+ are BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, or People of Color), have a disability and have a low socioeconomic status. These groups of people have more complex experiences that are unique to them. 

Homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia are still prevalent in our culture, and our society remains favored to cisgender and heteronormative people. As a result, LGBTQ+ people face microaggressions and discrimination regularly, negatively impacting a person’s mental health. 

This article will explore why LGBTQ+ seek out mental health counseling and why this type of therapy can be beneficial to their wellbeing. 

What are Demographics and Societal Issues for LGBTQ+ People When It Comes to Therapy?

To put into perspective why LGBTQ+ people seek out therapy, here are some demographics and societal issues that LGBTQ+ people currently face:

  • For U.S. adults, 4.5 percent identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. 
  • LGBTQ+ identification is lower as the ages increase. For example, 8.2 percent of Millennials (born between 1980 and 1999) identify as LGBTQ+, whereas 3.5 percent of Generation X individuals (born between 1965 and 1979) identify as LGBTQ+. 
  • Women are more likely to identify as LGBTQ+ than men (5.1 percent compared to 3.9 percent). 
  • LGBTQ+ people face health disparities connected to societal stigma, discrimination, and the denial of their civil rights. This type of discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals has been linked with higher psychiatric disorders, substance abuse, and suicide.

Barriers to Treatment 

  • About 8 percent of LGBTQ+ individuals and approximately 27 percent of transgender individuals reported being denied health care. 
  • This treatment may be impacted for mental health care due to stigma, lack of cultural sensitivity, and unconscious and conscious hesitation to address sexuality and gender.
  • According to recent evidence, health care providers may have an implicit preference for straight and cisgender people.

Why LGBTQ+ People May Want to Seek Out Therapy

While there are a variety of reasons why LGBTQ+ seek out therapy, and every sense is unique, here are some possibilities:

1. Transgender and gender-non-conforming people keep getting asked about their genitals.

Transgender and gender-nonconforming people are exhausted by people continually asking about their genitalia. It is baffling that cisgender people think it’s appropriate to ask a gender-nonconforming about their genitalia. If the roles were reversed, how comfortable would a cisgender person be if someone asked them about their genitalia? Or, would they ask another cisgender person about theirs?

2. Having to deal with misconceptions. 

When queer people come out to their loved ones, not everyone educates themselves. As a result, an LGBTQ+ person may hear misconceptions from people in their lives, and having to squash the myths can be emotionally grueling. 

Some of these misconceptions can include:

  • Bisexuality is a phase 
  • People asking lesbians who “the man” is in the relationship
  • Bisexual people are just greedy and promiscuous 
  • Being gay is a choice 

These are just a few examples – the amount of LGBTQ+ misconceptions is endless. Constantly explaining yourself or educating people can take up a lot of emotional labor.  

3. Your loved ones introduce your partner as your ‘friend’ at family gatherings. 

No matter how long you’ve been with your partner, your family or loved ones may not call them your partner, but things like your “friend” or “roommate.” This is an example of a microaggression. After these microaggressions occur frequently, it can be challenging to have a positive relationship with this loved one, and it can create hard feelings and cause the LGBTQ+ person to feel they have to hide or that they can’t be their authentic self.

Therapy can be an excellent tool for dealing with microaggressions and responding to them in a way that you can feel good about and will create lasting change more productively.

4. Spending too much emotional labor educating others. 

Many LGBTQ+ people find it exhausting to educate the people around them. Even when it comes to doctors, LGBTQ+ people can struggle to get the medical care they need because they are not informed. For example, the average medical student only devotes five hours of classroom time to LGBTQ+ health issues. Because of this, many health care providers may not know about things like PrEP, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), gender-affirming surgery, anal sex, and more. Not being able to access medical care where a doctor understands can feel isolating. 

Read: Therapy Options and Benefits

Insurance Coverage Barriers 

There has been a history of institutionalized prejudices in the insurance industry. You can see some examples at United Healthcare. When LGBTQ+ people have to go through the bureaucratic process and advocate for their rights, it can be exhausting and even life-threatening.

By working with an LGBTQ+-friendly mental health practitioner, they can not only understand your needs and barriers, but they can work with you to find solutions so that you don’t have to take it all on yourself. 

In Summary 

LGBTQ+ people face discrimination, microaggressions, health care, and insurance barriers daily. If you think that therapy would help with any issues you are facing as an LGBTQ+ person, be sure to find a qualified and LGBTQ+-friendly counselor in your area today. 

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Billie Olsen

AUTHOR: Billie Olsen

Billie Olsen (she/they) is a lifestyle writer, disability justice advocate, and cozy femme located in Kelowna, BC, Canada. Their works have appeared in Metro News, Discorder, Sophomore Magazine, the Post-Feminist Post, DINE Magazine, and NerdReader.

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