How can I get support after a LGBT loved one has come out to me?
You may be experiencing an array of emotions such as grief, guilt, and denial, and you could be facing new questions about your relationship with your LGBT loved one. Whatever your reaction, remember that your loved one is sharing one part of his/her identity with you and is ultimately the same person as yesterday.
How are sexual orientation and gender identity determined?
No one knows exactly how sexual orientation and gender identity determined. However, experts agree that it is a complicated matter of genetics, biology, psychological and social factors. For most people, sexual orientation and gender identity are shaped at any early age. While research has not determined a cause, homosexuality and gender variance are not the result of any one factor like parenting or past experiences. It is never anyone's "fault" if they or their loved one grows up to be LGBT.
If you are asking yourself why you or your loved one is LGBT, consider asking yourself another question: Why ask why? Does your response to a LGBT person depend on knowing why they are LGBT? Regardless of cause, LGBT people deserve equal rights and to be treated fairly.
Is there something wrong with being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender?
No. There have been people in all cultures and times throughout human history who have identified themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). Homosexuality is not an illness or a disorder, a fact that is agreed upon by both the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association. Homosexuality was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of the American Psychiatric Association in 1974. Being transgender or gender variant is not a disorder either, although Gender Identity Dysphoria (GID) is still listed in the DSM of the American Psychiatric Association. Being LGBT is as much a human variation as being left-handed - a person's sexual orientation and gender identity are just another piece of who they are. There is nothing wrong with being LGBT - in fact, there's a lot to celebrate.
Discriminatory laws, policies and attitudes that persist in our schools, workplaces, places of worship and larger communities, however, are wrong and hurt LGBT people and their loved ones. PFLAG works to make sure that LGBT people have full civil rights and can live openly, free from discrimination and violence.
Can gay people change their sexual orientation or gender identity?
No – and efforts to do so aren’t just unnecessary – they’re damaging.
Religious and secular organizations do sponsor campaigns and studies claiming that LGBT people can change their sexual orientation or gender identity because there is something wrong.
These studies and campaigns suggesting that LGBT people can change are based on ideological biases and not peer-reviewed solid science. No studies show proven long-term changes in gay or transgender people, and many reported changes are based solely on behavior and not a person's actual self-identity. The American Psychological Association has stated that scientific evidence shows that reparative therapy (therapy which claims to change LGBT people) does not work and that it can do more harm than good.
How does someone know they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender?
Some people say that they have "felt different" or knew they were attracted to people of the same sex from the time they were very young. Some transgender people talk about feeling from an early age that their gender identity did not match parental and social expectations. Others do not figure out their sexual orientation or gender identity until they are adolescents or adults. Often it can take a while for people to put a label to their feelings, or people's feelings may change over time.
Understanding our sexuality and gender can be a lifelong process, and people shouldn't worry about labeling themselves right away. However, with positive images of LGBT people more readily available, it is becoming easier for people to identify their feelings and come out at earlier ages. People don't have to be sexually active to know their sexual orientation - feelings and emotions are as much a part of one's identity. The short answer is that you'll know when you know.
Should I talk to a loved one about his or her sexual orientation or gender identity before the person talks to me?
It’s seldom appropriate to ask a person, "Are you gay?” Your perception of another person’s sexual orientation (gay or straight) or gender identity (male or female) is not necessarily what it appears.
No one can know for sure unless the person has actually declared that they are gay, straight, bisexual, or transgender. PFLAG recommends creating a safe space by showing your support of LGBT issues on a non-personal level. For example, take an interest in openly discussing and learning about topics such as same-sex marriage or LGBT rights in the workplace. Learn about LGBT communities and culture. Come out as an ally, regardless of if your friend or loved one is LGBT.
How do I come out to my family and friends?
There are many questions to consider before coming out. Are you comfortable with your sexuality and gender identity/expression? Do you have support? Can you be patient? What kind of views do your friends and family have about homosexuality and gender variance? Are you financially dependent on your family? Make sure you have thought your decision through, have a plan and supportive people you can turn to. Just as you needed to experience different stages of acceptance for yourself, family and loved ones may will need to go through a similar process.
Can gay people have families?
Yes! LGBT people can and do have families. Same-sex couples do form committed and loving relationships. In the United States many same-sex couples choose to celebrate their love with commitment ceremonies or civil unions, although these couples are not offered the rights and benefits of marriage. More and more LGBT couples are also raising children together, although state laws on adoption and foster parenting vary. And of course, many LGBT people have the support of the loving families they were born into, or the families that they have created with their other friends and loved ones. As the saying goes, all it takes is love to make a family.
How can I reconcile my or my loved one's sexual orientation with my faith?
This is a difficult question for many people. Learning that a loved one is LGBT can be a challenge if you feel it is at odds with your faith tradition. However, being LGBT does not impact a person's ability to be moral and spiritual any more than being heterosexual does. Many LGBT people are religious and active in their own faith communities. It is up to you to explore, question and make choices in order to reconcile religion with homosexuality and gender variance. For some this means working for change within their faith community, and for others it means leaving it.
What does transgender mean?
As the name implies, someone who is transgender is someone who transgresses gender boundaries. Transgender behavior encompasses everything from a boy wearing fingernail polish to someone having surgery to change their sex. The term transgender is often used as an umbrella term to include transsexual, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, cross-dressing, and fluid gender individuals, although a person must self-identify as transgender in order for the term to be appropriately used to describe them.
Who may identify as transgender?
Transsexuals are people whose gender identity is opposite of their anatomical sex. Many (but not all) transsexual people take hormones and/or undergo sex reassignment surgery. FTM (female to male) individuals are people who were assigned female at birth yet identify as male, live as a man or identify as masculine. MTF (male to female) individuals are people who were assigned male at birth yet identify as female, live as a woman, or identify as feminine. Transsexuals may feel most comfortable living within the gender binary and identify as a transsexual man or woman, or may present their gender in a fluid manner and identify as transgender.
Those who identify as genderqueer, fluid gender, and/or gender non-conforming are those who may identify their gender to be somewhere on the continuum in between or completely outside the binary gender system. The gender binary is the classification of sex and gender into two distinct and disconnected forms of masculine and feminine. It can describe a social boundary that discourages people from crossing or mixing gender roles, or from creating an alternative gender expression. Genderqueer, fluid gender, and/or gender non-conforming individuals are those who transgress this gender binary.
Cross-dressers are people who, on occasion, wear clothing considered typical for another gender, but who do not necessarily desire to change their gender. Cross-dressing runs significantly counter to those norms and, therefore, can be seen as a type of transgender behavior. It does not, however, necessarily indicate transgender identity; a person who cross-dresses does not always identify as being of the opposite gender. This is also true for drag kings and drag queens, who wear clothing of the opposite gender in an exaggerated, stereotypical manner to perform gender as parody, art, or entertainment. Again, a person must self-identify as transgender in order for the term to be appropriately used to describe them.
What is the transgender community like at UCSB?
There are a number of folks who frequent the Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity (RCSGD) who are non-gender conforming. Identities and labels are fluid, and some identify as gender queer, transgender, MTF trans (pre-op and post-op), FTM trans (pre-op and post-op), and gender fluid. The resource center provides a home for everyone in our community, regardless of (and especially because of) their gender identity or sexual orientation.
In what ways can I get involved?
Individuals of the transgender community are more than welcome to get involved with any student group on campus. Here is a full listing of queer student organizations on campus. For the most updated information, feel free to stop by the RCSGD. More information can be found here.
Are there gender neutral restrooms on campus?
Currently there are a very limited number of accessible, single-occupancy gender neutral restrooms located on UCSB’s campus. A coalition to disabled and transgender individuals formed the group PISSAR (People in Search of Safe and Accessible Restrooms) in 2003 in order to address issues of restroom accessibility on campus. This group would go on “PISSAR patrols” around campus to assess the restroom situation while wearing bright yellow t-shirts with spray-painted stenciling: “PISSAR” on the front and “FREE 2 PEE” on the back. The individuals would go down the PISSAR checklist, which assessed if the restroom was ADA compliant, if there was proper signage to indicate a unisex restroom, and if there were changing tables and feminine products available in the restroom.
As a result of the patrols, PISSAR came to the conclusion that campus restrooms do present obstacles for disabled and transgender students, staff, and visitors. Only 50 single-stall restrooms at the time were both accessible and gender-neutral, while majority of restrooms were not up to ADA codes and gender-neutral restrooms were incorrectly marked with poor signage.
Here is a list of all the gender neutral bathrooms on campus.
Is on-campus housing transgender-friendly?
Transgender students are valued members of the on-campus living community at UCSB. In order to provide support for the needs of incoming and current transgender students, UCSB’s Housing and Residential Services has created a gender-neutral housing option.
Although not a Living-Learning Community, Gender Neutral Housing is another option open to students. Rooms are located in various houses throughout Manzanita Village and/or San Rafael Residence Halls. We may also have space in our University owned Undergraduate/Graduate Apartment community.
The primary purpose of Gender-Neutral Housing is to provide support to students who need or request accommodations due to gender identity/expression. Students that are interested in more information should contact Assignment Services and, as space permits, an appropriate housing assignment will be made. Assignment Services will not ask for more information than is required to meet students' housing needs and disclosed private information will be kept confidential. Please feel free to contact Residence Hall Assignment Services at (805) 893-4240 or Apartment Living Assignment Services at (805) 893-7391.
Students may also be interested in living in the Rainbow House. This house is a supportive residential community for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students (LGBT) and their allies. The Rainbow House is committed to provide a specifically LGBT-friendly atmosphere for students to live and interact. It also serves the general residential population as a safe space for any student to visit when facing challenges in their life regarding their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression, such as roommate problems and coming out issues. Through social programs, residents connect with the greater UCSB LGBT community and their allies.For more information on both programs: UCSB Housing
Is there a non-discrimination policy regarding gender identity?
The University is committed to a policy against legally impermissible, arbitrary, or unreasonable discriminatory practices, including discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, pregnancy, disability, age, medical condition (cancer-related), ancestry, marital status, citizenship, sexual orientation, or status as a Vietnam-era veteran or special disabled veteran. This nondiscrimination policy covers admission, access, and treatment in University programs and activities, and application for treatment in University employment. All groups operating under the authority of The Regents, including administration, faculty, student governments, University-owned residence halls and apartments, and programs sponsored by the University or any campus, are governed by the policy. The intent of the University’s policy on nondiscrimination is to reflect fully the spirit of the law. In carrying out this policy, the University also shall be sensitive to the existence of past and continuing societal discrimination. (See also: Policy 4105-Student Grievance Procedures at http://www.policy.ucsb.edu/policies/policy-docs/student-grievance-proced.pdf; and Policy 1035-Sexual Harassment Policy and Procedures which are available at the Office of Student Life.)
What is the procedure for reporting a hate crime?
It is an unfortunate fact that some individuals can become targets of hateful acts simply because others are intolerant of differences based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, or disability. At UCSB we strive to maintain an environment that is welcoming and safe for every member of our community. In the event that a hate crime or incident does occur, the Hate Incident Response Coordinator serves at the campus reporting point, and can work with the victim(s) in coordinating a response. For more information or to report a hate crime or incident, please contact Angie Tozier Bryan, Assistant Director of Judicial Affairs/Hate Incident Response Coordinator at (805) 893-5016 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are the police on campus transgender-friendly?
For more information please visit the Office of Judicial Affairs’ website: Judicial Affairs
The Chief of Police, Dustin Olson, received an award from the RCSGD this past year for his service to the LGBT community. The University of California Police Department at Santa Barbara includes the RCSGD in their annual training. The purpose of this training is to help educate the police about specific issues the LGBT community deals with and how to better serve our community as a whole. If there are any problems or concerns with the UCPD, please contact the RCSGD or the Office of Judicial Affairs.
For more information on the UCPD hate crime policy please visit:UCSB Police
Are their academic programs that focus on transgender issues?
The Department of Feminist Studies is proud to offer the newly created minor in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Studies. The Minor provides a comprehensive and interdisciplinary examination of the lives, experiences, identities, and representations of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals; their families and communities; their cultures and subcultures; their histories, institutions, languages and literatures; their economics and politics; and their complex relations to the culture and experience of a heterosexual majority.
The minor emphasizes the intersection of sexuality and gender with race, class, ethnicity, and nation. The student seeking to minor in LGBTQ studies will take core courses offered in the the Department of Feminist Studies as well as a variety of courses elected from other disciplines within the humanities and social sciences.You can declare the minor at any time; you do not have to complete the preparation for the minor before declaring. You also must let the Advisor know when you declare candidacy or she cannot credit you with completion of the minor. When you graduate with successful completion of the LGBTQ Minor, credit for your minor will appear on your diploma as "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Studies Minor.
All meetings with the advisor are confidential, and we strive to maintain the safest space possible. If you would like to set up an alternative space for a meeting or advising session, please feel free to discuss this with the advisor. Please contact the undergraduate advisor with any questions you have at (805) 893-4330 or e-mail email@example.com.
Download the 2010-2011 LGBTQ Studies undergraduate minor sheet: LGBT Minor
How does Career Services cater to transgender students as they navigate their way into the workforce?
There are a myriad of resources designed to promote diversity in the workplace and to assist those who are underrepresented in high paying jobs/fields break through the “glass ceiling.” Career Services is committed to ensuring students, regardless of their ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, citizenship, or differing abilities, get access to whatever jobs match their goals and desires.Please feel free to make a confidential appointment with one of the Career Counselors to consult about any special issues that you may face as you prepare for your future.For more information: Careers
How can I change my name and gender on campus records?
The Registrar is currently aware of the desire and necessity to utilize preferred names and preferred genders as a step towards improving safety and campus climate for our transgender community. However, the current data systems do not provide opportunities for using preferred names or preferred genders.
In the interim, transgender students may appeal directly to the Registrar regarding name changes. Changes must be accompanied by evidence of current use or legal change. Acceptable documentation includes but is not limited to: marriage license, state identification card, driver’s license, social security card, court order, or passport.
Names can be changed on campus records by completing the Petition for a Change of Name form available from the Office of the Registrar.
Petition for name change.pdf. The Registrar is located on the first floor of the Student Affairs and Administrative Services Building (SAASB).
There is no easy official way to change your gender on your campus records. However, changing your gender through the Social Security Administration and the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will make the process as simple as changing your name.
For more information about how to legally change identity documents please read the Transgender Law Center publication "ID PLEASE. . .A Guide to Changing California & Federal Identity Documents to Match Your Gender Identity." This is an extensive guide that can help take you through all the necessary steps:Click Here