LGBTQ+ Facts vs. Myths

Even though there is now increased awareness about sexual orientation, gender identity, expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC), many myths and misconceptions, about lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, and queers (LGBTQ+) still abound. This misinformation cause members of the LGBTQ+ community to face stigmatization, discrimination, and harassment, leading them to experience mental health concerns like depression and anxiety at higher rates than their heterosexual and cisgender counterparts. 

We asked Amber Gonzales Quiban, Director for Policy and Campaigns of the Philippine Anti-Discrimination Alliance of Youth Leaders (PANTAY) to provide the straight facts to the 8 most common myths and misconceptions applied to our LGBTQ brothers and sisters.

“Conversion therapies cause more harm than good because the trauma that the person experiences can lead to the development of mental illnesses like anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders.”

Amber Gonzales Quiban, Director for Policy and Campaigns of the Philippine Anti-Discrimination Alliance of Youth Leaders (PANTAY)

Myth #1: LGBTQ+ people are just going through a phase/experimenting/confused.

Fact: This misconception is especially prescribed to adolescents, as they are labeled as “misguided” and “confused” for feeling and/or experiencing a sexual attraction to someone of the same sex, both sexes, or for identifying with a gender different than the one assigned to them at birth.  But decades of research have shown that being an LGBTQ+ individual is an identity; it is a part of who they are and not a choice, lifestyle, or phase that someone grows out of. 

“If it were a phase or we were just experimenting, then it would have been an easier choice to just choose to be straight and not have to face the stigma and discrimination that comes with being a member of the LGBTQ+ community,” Amber explains. “But being gay, bixesual, or transgender is who we are, it is our reality.”

Myth #2: LGBTQ+ people are mentally ill; if they receive therapy, they will be cured.

Fact: Although homosexuality and transgenderism were once thought to be mental illnesses or diseases, both the World Health Organization and the American Psychiatric and Psychological Associations have declassified them as such. The WHO even went on to emphasize that homosexuality is a natural and non-pathological variation of human sexuality.

Furthermore, studies have proven that psychiatric attempts to “cure” lesbians and gay men are not only unethical and inhumane, they have failed to change the sexual orientation of the patient. “Conversion therapies cause more harm than good because the trauma that the person experiences can lead to the development of mental illnesses like anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders,” Amber points out.  

Myth #3: They became LGBTQ+ because they were brought up the wrong way.

Fact: There are no studies that show that children from dysfunctional families are more likely to grow up to gay, bisexual, or transgender any more than children who were raised in loving homes. 

Additionally, many scientists and researchers have studied a variety of reasons that may contribute to a specific sexual orientation or gender identity, including genetics and environmental influences. To this day, there is no consensus that sexual orientation or transgenderism is determined by any single factor or even a combination of factors.

“No one is raised to become gay,” Amber reiterates. This is why when LGBTQ+ members are asked  “When did you choose to be gay/lesbian/bi/trans?” most of them would say that there was no sense of choice regarding their sexual orientation and gender identity; that is just the way they feel. “It’s like asking a heterosexual person ‘When did you choose to be straight?’ There’s no answer to that,” she adds.

Myth #4: I should not expose myself or my loved ones to LGBTQ+ peers/relatives or watch shows with LGBTQ+ themes to prevent them from becoming gay, bisexual, or transgender. 

Fact: Learning about or spending time with people who are LGBTQ+ does not influence the sexual orientation or gender identity of a person or harm the well-being of minors. What it can do is help build empathy and respect towards others, potentially reducing homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia for years to come. 

Myth #5: There is no such thing as trangenders. Transwomen are gays, and transmen are lesbians. 

Fact: Transgender is an umbrella term for persons whose gender identity, gender expression, or behavior does not conform to that typically associated with the sex to which they were assigned at birth. Transpersons have been documented in many indigenous, Western, and Eastern cultures and societies from antiquity until the present day.

“Gender is a social construct, it varies from society to society and can change over time. This means you can break it,” Amber stresses. “And we should not stop people from breaking gender norms because at the end of the day, these gender roles are just imposed upon us.” 

Myth #6: Letting transgenders use the bathroom matching their gender identity is dangerous.

Fact: One of the main arguments against trans-inclusive bathrooms is the perception that sexual predators can gain access to female-only bathrooms. “If people are worried about men who would disguise themselves as transwomen to enter female bathrooms to sexually harass women, then transwomen are not the problem,” Amber stresses. 

Amber also stresses that having a bathroom exclusively for transgenders is counterproductive. “Creating a separate bathroom is just a form of exclusion,” she explains. “We should not be made to feel bad using the restrooms of the gender that we identify with. Creating gender-neutral restrooms would be more inclusive and affirmative.”

Myth #7: Letting my son play with dolls or my daughter play with cars will affect their gender identity.

Fact: Research has shown that behaviors such as playing with feminine toys or wearing feminine-colored clothes do not cause a boy to become gay or transgender, just as those same activities do not cause a girl to become heterosexual or cisgender. 

Myth #8: If someone comes out to me, it means they are attracted to me. 

Fact: “We don’t come out to people because we are attracted to them; we do because we trust them and they are a safe space for us,” Amber emphasizes. “Coming out entails so much fear and burden so when someone comes out to you, be thankful and proud of yourself because someone believes in you and they are willing to risk their lives just to come out to you.”

As an ally and a friend, it’s important that you take a stand for LGBTQ+ rights and join in the fight for equality. By educating yourself about what it means to be LGBTQ+, normalizing conversations related to LGBTQ+ matters with loved ones, and calling out myths and microaggressions, you can play an active role in helping build a kinder and more inclusive community. 

To our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters and allies in the Philippines, you are not alone. MindNation’s psychologists and WellBeing Coaches are available 24/7 for teletherapy sessions if you need someone to talk to. Book a session now through FB Messenger http://mn-chat or email [email protected]


8 Things To Do When Someone Comes Out To You

Coming out is defined as the process by which someone accepts and identifies their gender identity and/or sexual orientation, and shares their identity willingly with others. It is sometimes one of the hardest things a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ+) community can do.

“While coming out is a big thing for the LGBTQ+ member because it means they are finally speaking their truth, it is also scary and difficult because of the stigma that is associated with being homosexual, bisexual, or transgender,” says Anton Paderanga, MindNation Marketing Officer and a gender equality advocate. “So when someone comes out to you, it means they trust you and consider you a safe space where they can be free to be themselves.”

“Choosing to come out to you means that they have a great deal of respect and trust for you.”

Anton Paderanga, MindNation Marketing Officer

If you are on the receiving end of a coming out confession, it’s important to make the other person feel seen, heard, and respected. Below are some things you can do:

  1. Thank your friend for having the courage to tell you. Choosing to come out to you means that they have a great deal of respect and trust for you. Anton says that the best immediate reply to give is “Thank you for telling me.” “Saying this also honors the bravery of your loved one and reassures them that nothing will change in your relationship,” he adds.

Do not say things like “Are you sure?” “I knew it!” or “Duh, it’s so obvious” because even if your intention is to lighten the atmosphere, it invalidates the gravity of the coming out process and inadvertently offends the one coming out. 

2. Respect your friend’s confidentiality. A person’s sexual orientation and gender identity should never be the subject of gossip, so don’t go around telling other people in your circle that so-and-so is gay, bisexual, or transgender even if your intentions are good. Every person’s coming out process always involves private and personal information that deserves to be treated with respect. 

Now, if someone else asks you point blank, “Is your friend X gay/transgender?” Anton advises that you respond with a non-committal response like “Why do you want to know?” or “Is it an issue?” This gently lets the other person know that it is inappropriate to engage in idle talk about a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. You can also reply with “Sorry, it’s not my place to say.”

  1. Be the friend you have always been. “Immediately assure them that nothing will change,” suggests Anton. The main fear for people coming out is that their friends and family will reject them, so tell your friend that you still care about them, no matter what. Then continue to do what you have always done together, whether it’s playing sports or catching up online on weekends.
  2. Feel free to ask questions that you may have.
    Anton says that some good follow-up questions include:
  • “Who else knows?” (because they may need you to keep their sexual orientation or gender identity a secret)
  • “What can I do to help?” (because they may need it down the road)
  • “What pronouns do you want me to use?” (important if your loved one is coming out as transgender)
  1. But refrain from asking about the following:

— Anything about their sex life (just as you would not ask a straight person)
— If you can set them up with another LGBTQ+ person that you know (because for all you know they are already in a committed relationship with someone else) 

— Your gay friend if he can help you with shopping, make-up, fashion, etc. (because this is propagating the stereotype that all gay men express themselves in a feminine manner, when in truth they can also be masculine)

  1. Offer and be available to support your friend as they come out to others. “Your role is to be a stage parent — to give them support and confidence they need when their anxiety makes them forget what to say,” Anton points out. However, this does not mean that you should pressure your friend to come out to other people when they are not ready.
  2. If possible, connect your friend with the LGBTQ+ community. If you know of other LGBTQ+ individuals or organizations, tell your loved one about it without giving specific names (because, again, it is not your place to out other people). “You can just say ‘Oh, I have a friend who has gone through the same experience as you if you want to talk to them about it’ or ‘I know of this group if you want to hang out with other LGBTQ+ members,’” Anton advises. Then seek the permission of the other person or organization before introducing your friend to them. 
  1. Learn about the LGBTQ+ community. Doing this will allow you to better support your friend, and knowing about their world will help prevent you from drifting apart. “When a loved one comes out to you, you automatically become an ally — a heterosexual and cisgender person who supports gender equality,” says Anton. “This means you take on the responsibility to help educate other people and amplify the voices of the LGBGTQ+ community.”

By being a supportive friend to someone who comes out to you, you help establish more safe spaces for those in the LGBTQ+ community and help them take one step closer to attaining the rights that they deserve.

If you need someone to talk to, MindNation psychologists and WellBeing Coaches are available 24/7 for teletherapy sessions. Book a session now through http://mn-chat or email [email protected]