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Sexuality

Sexuality isn’t just about the act of having sex with someone; it’s also about your identity, who you’re attracted to and who you want to have relationships with, and sometimes these things can be complicated to figure out.

Your sexuality affects the way you feel about yourself, your body and other people. It's a basic part of your personality.  It's also about sexual attraction and relationships, and it therefore affects all aspects of your life. As it's such an important part of your life, it's a good idea to be familiar and comfortable with your sexuality.

Many people find it easy to identify their sexuality and feel comfortable with it, but that's not the case for everyone. If you're uncertain or unhappy about your sexuality, it's important to remember that you're not alone. If you can't talk to your family or friends about your sexuality, there are plenty of counselling services and helpful websites you can visit to get more information, or contact someone to talk to - you'll find some helpful links on this page.  As a student at the University of Adelaide, you're also welcome to come and talk to a student counsellor at Counselling Support Link to University Counselling Service website in a new window .

If you want to learn more about sexuality. Reach Out Open external site link in new window has some great information, and so does SHineSA Open external site link in new window .

Even if you're aware of and comfortable with your own sexuality, it can be helpful to understand of some of the terminology around sexuality. You'll find a list of common terms below. You might find a name that fits you on this list, but if you don't, that's fine! There are more types of sexuality in the world than one webpage can cover. If you find not having a term to describe your sexuality distressing, though, it might help to talk to a counsellorLink to University Counselling Service website in a new window or support service Open external site link in new window .

Sex/Sexuality

'Sex' refers to your biological status - that is, whether you are have male, female or intersex sex chromosomes and reproductive organs. However, the word can also be used as the shortened version of the term sexual intercourse.

As discussed above, your sexuality is about more than your biological sex. It affects how you feel about yourself and other people, and who you're attracted to, and it's a fundamental part of your personality. It affects all aspects of your life, including your thoughts, actions and feelings. Because it's such an important part of the human psyche, it's important to be comfortable with your sexuality.

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Gender

When the word 'gender' appears on forms and documents, it's usually used as a synonym for 'sex' - it's asking you to state your biological sex.

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Gender Identity

The term 'gender identity' refers to how you feel about your gender physically, emotionally and psychologically, regardless of your biological sex. Many people feel comfortable and happy within the cultural gender norms for their biological sex - for example, by being biologically male and also feeling male, or being biologically female and feeling female. This is called being 'cisgender'. However, some people feel happier and more comfortable within the cultural gender norms for the opposite sex, or somewhere in between the two - for example, by being biologically male and feeling female, or being biologically female and feeling both female and male. Sometimes people who feel this way also experience a condition called gender dysphoria, which means they have a very intense sense that their body is the wrong shape and doesn't quite belong to them. People who feel this way may be called 'transgender', or 'genderqueer'.

People express their gender through their clothes, the way they behave and talk, their hairstyle and many other ways. This is called 'gender expression' and is a way of letting other people know how you want to be perceived.

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Sexual Orientation

Your sexual orientation is about who you're sexually and romantically attracted to. If you're emotionally and physically attracted to people of the same sex as you, your sexual orientation is 'homosexual'. If you're attracted to people of the opposite sex, your orientation is 'heterosexual'. If you're attracted to both sexes, your orientation is 'bisexual', and if you're attracted to neither then it's 'asexual'.

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Sexual Identity

Your sexual identity is how you define yourself and your sexuality. It's about what you feel most comfortable identifying as in terms of your sexual orientation..

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Heterosexuality

Heterosexuality is defined as being attracted to people of the opposite sex/gender identity from you. The casual term for being heterosexual - which is what most people use in everyday conversation - is 'straight'.

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Homosexuality

Homosexuality is defined as being attracted to people of the same sex/gender identity as you. The casual terms for being homosexual are 'gay' (for men) and 'lesbian' (for women). Some gay men and lesbians also use the word 'queer', but this term was considered an insult for a long time, so if you're not gay or lesbian yourself it's best not to use it.

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Bisexuality

Bisexuality is defined as being attracted to both people of the same sex/gender identity as you, and people of the opposite sex/gender identity. The casual term for being bisexual is 'bi'.

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Asexuality

Asexuality is defined as not being attracted to either people of the same sex/gender identity as you, or people of the  opposite sex/gender identity, and having no interest in sexual activity. The casual term for being asexual is 'ace', but this isn't as well-known as terms like gay, lesbian and bi.

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Transgender

Transgender is an umbrella term that refers to people whose gender identity, gender expression or behaviour don't match those typically associated with the sex to which they were assigned at birth. American Psychological Association (APA)Link to APA page relating to Transgender in a new window . The casual term for being transgender is 'trans'.

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Intersex

Intersex is a term that refers to people born with physical, hormonal or genetic features that are not solely male or female. They may have a combination of male and female features, or neither, and they may identify as male, female or a combination of the two. Organisation Intersex International AustraliaLink to Australia's Intersex Organisation website in a new window .

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LGBTI

LGBTI is a well-known collective term for individuals who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans/Transgender, or Intersex. You may also see a longer version of it written as LGBTQIA, which stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Queer/Questioning, Intersex and Asexual.

 

 

 

 
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