Gender Expression in the LGBTQIA+ Mental Health Community
I identify as a lesbian in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, etc. (LGBTQIA+) community as a whole. My gender expression follows a more masculine route regarding clothing and hairstyle. Gender expression for many of us in the LGBTQIA+ community can lead to judgment by a society which is used to gendering things such as clothing or hairstyle. These judgments and biases can lead to fear and anxiety for those of us in the LGBTQIA+ mental health community. My anxiety was heightened for years regarding my treatment from others who may not agree or understand my gender expression.
Judgment of My Gender Expression Affects My Mental Health
My mental health struggles begin and end with my posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This illness brings along symptoms such as heightened anxiety when I feel fear or unease. Not being able to express myself outwardly regarding my aesthetic is also something that triggers feelings of anxiety and unease.
When my anxiety flares up, my first instinct is to try and remove myself from the situation that has caused me to feel this way. If I am out in public and someone harasses me based upon how I look versus my chosen female gender, I find it difficult to remove myself. These scenarios have happened to me at the grocery store, gas station, and mall in my past. These are all places we need to venture into. These are also places I have been made to feel uneasy and unwelcome.
The LGBTQIA+ community has many members who experience harassment and discrimination on a regular basis. The non-binary community, who do not identify as male or female, can experience this type of judgment when dressing or presenting their gender expression in a way that society may not be used to seeing gender portrayed. If these individuals are also dealing with mental health concerns, this type of unease can lead to anxiety being heightened.
Gender Expression Should Benefit Our Mental Health
Being able to express ourselves as the authentic being we feel like is beneficial to our mental health. Worry is what leads me, most often, to the pits of anxiety. If I do not have to worry about going outside and facing judgment, there is one less worry to be carried into my day. Less worry allows me to better control my anxious feelings.
Removing gender from outward appearance can help us judge less based on simple things like clothing and hairstyle. The LGBTQIA+ mental health community has a right to the freedom of expression that we all enjoy. This includes freedom of our gender expression. Judgment only leads to the worry that can affect our mental health, such as anxiety.
See the video below for more on the topic of gender expression and mental health.
Nolasco, M. (2021, May 23). Gender Expression in the LGBTQIA+ Mental Health Community, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, January 28 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/thelifelgbt/2021/5/gender-expression-in-the-lgbtqia-mental-health-community