Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Sexual orientation and gender identity are broad identity terms that are often confused and used in reference to a community of individuals with diverse identities.  Individuals who belong to a minority sexual orientation or gender identity groups are often lumped together despite the fact that these are very different identities. Sometimes, this community is referred to as the LGBTQ community, although this acronym excludes many identities and is thus controversial for some. For the purposes of this article, the term queer community will be used to refer to this broad group of people. Below are listed some foundational terms to be familiar with:

Sexual orientation: An individual’s identity in relation to the gender to which they are sexually or romantically attracted. Most contemporary theorists view sexual orientation as occurring on a continuum (not categorical, but rather an issue of degree) and as fluid (it may or may not change over time).

Biological Sex: A person’s biological sex refers to an individual’s anatomy as male, female or intersex. Characteristics of biological sex include sex organs (such as the penis, ovaries, vagina), chromosomes and hormones. Most individuals are assigned to one of the biological sex categories at birth based on their external sex organs.

Gender Identity: A person’s inner concept as male, female, both or neither. It refers to individuals’ internal experience of their own gender. Gender identity can be the same or different than biological sex and is also thought of as occurring on a continuum and fluid by most contemporary theorists.

Gender Expression: The external appearance of one’s gender, usually through clothing, haircut, voice or behavior. A person’s gender expression may or may not be in line with broader social expectations typically associated with masculinity or femininity and may or may not be congruent with their gender identity.

Commonly Used Terms

This article will cover a list of terms and as well as issues that come up for members of the queer community. It is important to remember that all of these identities are unique to each individual and often, which terms a person chooses to identify with has great importance. It is essential to ask individuals which terms they prefer and identify with before making assumptions, as individuals may use different terms to define the same behaviors. Below are listed some widely accepted definitions of key concepts:

Sexual Orientation Terms

Straight: The term straight refers to the sexual orientation of an individual who is sexually or romantically attracted to people of the opposite gender. This is also known as heterosexual.

Gay: The term gay refers to the sexual orientation of an individual who is sexually or romantically attracted to people of their same gender. Most often this term refers to men who are attracted to other men, but has at times been used more broadly to refer to many individuals within the queer community. In the past, the word homosexual has been used to refer to men who are sexually or romantically attracted to the men, however this term is now outdated and at times is seen as derogatory.

Lesbian: The term lesbian refers to the sexual orientation of women who are sexually or romantically attracted to other women.

Bisexual:  The term bisexual refers to the sexual orientation of individuals who are sexually or romantically attracted to men and women.

Pansexual: The term pansexual refers to the sexual orientation of individuals who are sexually or romantically attracted to people regardless of their gender identity or biological sex. This would include men, women, transgender, agender or gender queer individuals.

Asexual: The term asexual refers to individuals who do not identify specific sexual or romantic attraction to any group of people.

Queer: The term queer is often used as an umbrella term for individuals who identify with a minority sexual orientation or gender identity and can also be used as a personal identity for individuals within this group. Queer was a derogatory slang term used in the past to identify people within these minority groups but has now been reclaimed and is used as a positive identity.

Questioning: Questioning refers to individuals who are in the process of exploring their sexual orientation.

Same Gender Loving:  This term is predominately used by African American/Black queer community to refer to individuals who are sexually or romantically attracted to people of the same gender. This term was created by people of color as an alternative to “gay” and “lesbian” because these terms were seen as associated with the white queer community and they saw their own struggle as separate.

Gender Identity Terms

Woman/Man: These terms are dominant in our society and presume that an individual’s biological sex and gender identity exist on a binary and are congruent. These terms usually include assumptions regarding characteristics and behaviors.

Transgender: Transgender is an umbrella term that refers to people who’s gender identity does not match their sex assigned at birth. Individuals who are transgender may or may not engage in a range of activities that seek to move their outward appearance into more alignment with their gender identity. Some of these activities include dressing in clothing more typical of another gender, cosmetic surgeries (such as hair removal), hormone replacement therapy or gender reassignment surgery. Individuals who do not identify with either male or female genders may also identify as transgender and fall under this umbrella.

Transsexual: The term is preferred by some individuals, and generally refers to a person who has or plans to have medical interventions to change their bodies to better match their gender identity. This term is not universally used, and many individuals prefer the term transgender.

FtM: FtM, also  known as transgender men or transmen, refers to individuals who were assigned a female sex at birth and have a male gender identity. These individuals fall under the umbrella term transgender and may engage in some or all of the processes of gender transitioning.

MtF: MtF, also known as transgender women or transwomen, refers to individuals who were assigned a male sex at birth and have a female gender identity. These individuals fall under the umbrella term transgender and may engage in some or all of the processes of gender transitioning.

Cisgender (cismale/cisfemale): Cisgender is a term referring to individuals whose gender identity is congruent with their sex assigned at birth. This term is controversial within the transgender community. Some individuals prefer the term “non-transgender woman/man.”

Queer/genderqueer: This term refers to individuals who may identify as both male and female or identify as neither. Individuals who identify as genderqueer often view their gender as more “fluid” and existing on a continuum rather than fitting into a male or female category. Queer is a non-binary gender identity and is often used interchangeably with the term “agender” or “non-binary.”

Agender: This term refers to individuals who identify as both male and female or as neither. It is a non-binary gender identity and is often used interchangeable with “genderqueer” and “non-binary.”

Non-binary: This is a gender identity used by individuals who do not identify as cisgender, specifically male or specifically female. The person may or may not identify as transgender.

Intersex: Intersex is a biological sex-related term. This term refers to individuals who are born with genitals, hormone or chromosome formation (XXY or XYY) that do not conform to society’s binary construct of male or female.

Gender Expression Terms

Androgyny: A gender expression that refers an appearance that is both masculine and feminine.

Passing: This is a term used in the transgender community to refer to an individual who is successfully presenting as their preferred gender. The term is somewhat controversial because it can imply deceiving others about gender expression and because some transgender individuals do not desire to “pass” as non-trans male or female.

Gender Transition: the process used by some individuals to move their outward appearance more into alignment with their internal experience of their gender. There are many different processes of gender transitioning, including: social transition, name changes, using different pronouns, wearing different clothing, surgeries and hormone replacement therapies. Individuals who identify as transgender may engage in some or none of these processes.

Gender Affirmation: Gender affirmation is a different term referring to the gender transition process and is preferred by some members of the transgender community.

Issues Impacting Mental Health Wellness for the Queer Community

Outlined below are several issues that impact members of the queer community. It is important to remember that each individual’s journey is different, and they may or may not have experienced any of the issues outlined on this page. Additionally, each person will react to these events differently, so it is important to ask questions about how people are experiencing what is happening. If you are wondering about making a referral to counseling for a child or for yourself in relation to one of these issues, one suggestion is to think about how the issue has impacted the individual’s ability to engage in relationships, work or play activities. It is also helpful to notice what changes have occurred since the issue came into awareness. Different sleeping or eating patters, decreased socialization, decreased engagement in pleasurable activities, increased irritability or changes in mood are all changes that may warrant further attention. If you feel that you or your child is not functioning as well or has experienced a significant change in mood in relation to one of these issues, it may be useful to consult with a mental health professional. 

Coming Out:

Coming out is a lifelong process for individuals who identify within the queer community. The process involves exploring, defining and sharing your sexual orientation or gender identity. While sometimes thought of as a single event, coming out is better understood as a process because individuals within the queer community have to make decisions throughout their lives about where and with whom to share their identities. During this time, individuals who identify within the queer community may experience increased anxiety, depression or social isolation.The process of coming out also impacts family members, as they now need to adjust their understanding of their son/daughter/sister/brother’s identity, future and must grapple with having a family member who is part of a minority community which faces discrimination.

Some queer individuals may choose never to come out, or may choose never to come out to certain people. These choices are may be motivated by fear of rejection or discrimination, personal struggle with accepting their own identity or  safety concerns, such as violence, losing housing or losing financial assistance.

Bullying:

Bullying is a common experience for youth who identify within the queer community.  While many young people experience bullying at school or online, recent statistics suggests that children who identify, or are perceived as identifying, within the queer community are at greater risk for bullying than their peers (American Society for the Positive Care of Children, 2015).  Some studies report that of sexual minority youth up to 70% report problems in school due to prejudice and discrimination based on sexual orientation (Mishna, F., Newman, P.A., Daley, A. and Solomon, S., 2008). Research has shown that youth who are victims of peer bullying have similar or worse long-term mental health outcomes than children who experience maltreatment by adults (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2015). Children who experiencing bullying are more likely to struggle with depression, self-harm, suicidality and anxiety (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2015).

Discrimination:

Individuals within the queer community face discrimination in many sectors of daily life including health care, law enforcement, legally, housing, and employment to name a few. Currently, sexual orientation and gender identity are not universally protected classes under discrimination laws. For example, more than three out of five individuals live in areas that do not provide legal protections against employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity (Human Rights Campaign, 2010). Mental health professionals know that stress related to discrimination and minority status can have negative impacts on psychological well-being over time.

Transitioning:

As mentioned above, transgender individuals may engage in a range of processes and actions to better align their gender expression with their gender identity. Many of these processes are expensive and individuals often face many barriers to completing the changes they seek. For example, many health insurance policies do not cover medical interventions for gender reassignment making the process very expensive, and often cost-prohibitive. Most insurance companies require that a transgender individual meet with a mental health specialist or psychiatrist prior to beginning hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Additionally, there are states where there are very few or no doctors who are trained to do the procedures required by transgender individuals.  Such barriers at times, make it impossible for trans-identified people to complete the process of transitioning, which can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety.

Reproduction:

For some individuals within the queer community who would like to have children, reproductive issues can become a source of stress. Options vary, but most common are adoption, surrogacy or artificial insemination. Many of these processes are not covered by insurance companies and can be very expensive, and some LGBTQ individuals report discrimination in terms of  policy coverage. Studies suggest that queer parents are more likely than straight parents to report financial challenges (Gates, 2013). Additionally, queer parents face many questions about their ability to provide stable, loving homes for their children, despite significant evidence suggesting that children from homes headed by queer parents fair just as well as peers with heterosexual parents (American Psychological Association, 2005).

Community Violence/Hate violence:

For many individuals who identify within the queer community, community or hate violence is a realistic fear. Current data suggest that between 20 and 25% of lesbian- and gay- identified individuals will be the victim of a hate crime within their lifetime (National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, 2014). In 2014, at least 12 transgender people of color were killed (National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, 2014). Unfortunately, there is currently very little data on the prevalence of hate crimes against queer, bisexual or transgender individuals, however based on recent reports transwomen are at higher risk than others within the queer community (National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, 2014). Such incidents can have a major psychological toll on an individual, including increased anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress-related syndromes.

Homelessness:

Homelessness has become an increasingly prominent issue within the queer community, particularly for queer youth. According to a 2012 survey of agencies serving the homeless youth, approximately 40% of their clients are LBGTQ (Durso & Gates, 2012). Family rejection due to sexual orientation and/or gender identity was the most frequently cited factor for homelessness, followed by being kicked out of their homes due to coming out as a queer identity (Durso & Gates, 2012). More than half of the service providers surveyed thought that the mental and physical health of their lesbian, gay and bisexual clients was worse than the health of their straight clients, and almost 60% of providers thought that the health of their transgender clients was poorer compared to other homeless youth (Durso & Gates, 2012). Homeless youth within the queer community are at higher risk for mental health concerns, substance abuse, violence, sexual exploitation and assault.

 

This article provides an overview of terminology and mental health concerns that may effect the queer community. If you are concerned that you or a loved one may be struggling with some of the issues presented above please consult with a mental health provider. While all mental health providers should be culturally sensitive to issues related to minority identities, it may be important to ask whether or not a provider specializes in treating issues related to sexuality or gender identity. While this article outlines many issues that individuals in the queer community face, it is important to remember that many queer communities are vibrant, proud and happy.

 

 Sources:

American Academy of Pediatrics. (2015). Victims of bullying fare worse in the long run than maltreated children.

American Society for the Positive Care of Children. (2015). Bullying Statistics and Information.

American Psychological Association. 2012. APA on children raised by gay and lesbian parents.

Durso, L.E., & Gates, G.J. (2012). Serving Our Youth: Findings from a National Survey of Service Providers Working with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth who are Homeless or At Risk of Becoming Homeless. Los Angeles: The Williams Institute with True Colors Fund and The Palette Fund.

Faye, M., Newman, P.A., Daley, A., & Solomon, S. (2008). Bullying of lesbian and gay youth: A qualitative investigation. The British Journal of Social Work, 39, 1589-1614.

Gates, G. (2013). LGBT parenting in the United States. The Williams Institute.

Human Rights Campaign. (2010). Workplace Discrimination Laws and Policies.

National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. (2015). Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and HIV-affected hate violence in 2014.

Resource Organizations » Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

In Massachusetts

Organizations with hotlines

Berkshire Stonewall Community Coalition

Crisis Hotline: (800) 252-0227, LGBTQ Adult Hotline: (888) 340-4528, LGBTQ Youth Helpline: (800) 850-8078

Main Line: 413-822-7268

Email: info@berkshirestonewall.org

The aim of the Berkshire Stonewall Community Coalition is to promote the well-being of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people from the Berkshire County area through communication, networking, support, education, political action, and fun. BSCC activities include discussion panels, speakers, infosocials, support groups, community action, social events and the publication of a bi-monthly calendar.

Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) of Greater Boston

Helpline: 866-427-3524

Greater Boston Office: 781-891-5966

National: 202-467-8180

Email: info@gbpflag.org

Greater Boston PFLAG works to create environments of understanding so that all people can live with dignity and respect through:

  • Support: to cope with an adverse society
  • Education: to enlighten the public
  • Advocacy: to end discrimination and to secure equal civil rights

Greater Boston PFLAG provides opportunity for dialogue about sexual orientation and gender identity, and acts to create a society that is healthy and respectful of human diversity.  Find a Chapter

The Network / La Red

Hotline: 617-742-4911, 800-832-1901 (Toll-Free)

Office: 617-695-0877

TTY: 617-227-4911

The Network/La Red is a survivor-led, social justice organization that works to end partner abuse in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, BDSM, polyamorous, and queer communities. Rooted in anti-oppression principles, their work aims to create a world where all people are free from oppression. They strengthen communities through organizing, education, and the provision of support services.

Organizations without hotlines

Bisexual Resource Center

617-424-9595

Email: brc@biresource.net

The Bisexual Resource Center envisions a world where love is celebrated, regardless of sexual orientation or gender expression. Because bisexuals today are still misunderstood, marginalized and discriminated against, the BRC is committed to providing support to the bisexual community and raising public awareness about bisexuality and bisexual people.

Boston Alliance of Gay and Lesbian Youth (BAGLY)

617-227-4313

Email: info@bagly.org

The Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth, is a youth led, adult supported social support organization, committed to social justice, and creating, sustaining and advocating for programs, policies and services for the LGBTQ youth community. 

Boston Gay, Lesbian Adolescent Social Services (BOSTONGLASS)

857-399-1920

Email: mtamanaha@jri.org

Boston GLASS (Gay & Lesbian Adolescent Social Services) provides a continuum of services to LGBTQQ+ youth of color and their allies in the Greater Boston area. As a leader in LGBTQ+ youth services, they also provide education and consultation to other providers and community organizations. An average of 25-30 youth go to GLASS each night to meet friends, talk to staff, or participate in formal programming. Boston GLASS provides counseling, advocacy and referrals for health care services and housing to LGBTQQ+ teens and young adults.

 

 

Boston LBGT ELDER Info

617-292-6211

Boston ElderINFO assists elders, disabled individuals and their families in accessing a comprehensive range of services that address health care needs. Boston ElderINFO is a program of the Elder Care Alliance. The Elder Care Alliance is a not for profit collaboration of three Boston home care agencies, also known as Aging Services Access Points (ASAPs): Boston Senior Home Care, Central Boston Elder Services and Ethos. For more than 25 years, we have provided the information, guidance and support necessary to identify, plan and secure alternatives that help make living independently possible for elder individuals with disabilities.

Fenway Community Health Center, Help Line and Peer Listening Line

LGBT Peer Listening (25 & under): 800-399-7337

LGBT Helpline (25+): 888-340-4528

Email: jwisch@fenwayhealth.org

Fenway's helplines are anonymous and confidential phone lines that offer lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning adults and young people a “safe place” to call for information, referrals, and support. Their trained volunteers are available six days a week to talk about safer sex, coming out, where to find gay-friendly establishments, HIV and AIDS, depression, suicide, and anti-gay/lesbian harassment and violence. No matter what is on your mind, they are there to encourage and ensure you that you are not alone.

 

Fenway Community Health Center, Violence Recovery Program

617-927-6250

Toll Free: 800-834-3242

Email: information@fenwayhealth.org

The Violence Recovery Program (VRP) at Fenway Community Health was founded in 1986. The VRP provides counseling, support groups, advocacy, and referral services to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) victims of bias crime, domestic violence, sexual assault and police misconduct. Other services include a support group for LGBT domestic violence survivors, the region's only support group for male survivors of rape and sexual assault, advocacy with the courts and police, and assistance with victim compensation.

Fenway Health: LGBT Aging Project

857-313-6590

Email: information@fenwayhealth.org

The LGBT Aging Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender older adults have equal access to the life-prolonging benefits, protections, services and institutions that their heterosexual neighbors take for granted. 

Fenway Health: LGBT Family & Parenting Services

617-927-6243

Fenway was one of the first in the nation to offer alternative insemination services to lesbians and today they continue to provide medical alternatives for achieving conception, as well as a support network, education, and advocacy. Fenway also provides resources, information, and educational services to LGBT-headed families. They hold educational presentations where parents can network.  They offer adoption resources, legal referrals, surrogacy resources and other information for prospective LGBT parents. 

Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN)

(617) 684-5736

Email: massachusetts@chapters.glsen.org

The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) is a national organization making schools safer for ALL students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. GLSEN strives to assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. They believe that such an atmosphere engenders a positive sense of self, which is the basis of educational achievement and personal growth. Since homophobia and heterosexism undermine a healthy school climate, they work to educate teachers, students, and the public at large about the damaging effects these forces have on youth and adults alike. GLESEN recognizes that forces such as racism and sexism have similarly adverse impacts on communities, and they support schools in seeking to redress all such inequities. GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes in creating a more vibrant and diverse community.

GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defender (GLAD)

617-426-1350

800-455-4523

Email: gladlaw@glad.org

Founded in 1978, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) is New England's leading legal rights organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, HIV status and gender identity and expression. GLAD has a full-time legal staff who focus on providing litigation, advocacy, and educational work in all areas of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights and the rights of people living with HIV. Through strategic litigation, public policy advocacy, and education, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders works in New England and nationally to create a just society free of discrimination based on gender identity and expression, HIV status, and sexual orientation.

HBGC (Hispanic Black Gay Coalition)

617-487-4242

Email: jsurlavargas@hbgc-boston.org

HBGC (Hispanic Black Gay Coalition) is one of few non-profit organizations in Boston dedicated to the unique and complex needs of the Black, Hispanic and Latino LGBT community. Founded in 2009 to unite and give a voice to LGBT individuals of color, HBGC works to inspire and empower Hispanic, Latino and Black LGBT individuals to improve their livelihood through activism, education, community outreach, and counseling.

Keshet Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender (GLBT)

617-524-9227

Email: info@boston-keshet.org

Keshet seeks to create a fully welcoming and inclusive Jewish community for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) Jews in Greater Boston. Keshet develops leadership for change among GLBT Jews and allies to affect concrete changes in Jewish institutions' policies and cultures. Keshet also creates opportunities for GLBT Jews to come together, celebrate, and explore their Jewish identities in an affirming environment.

Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC)

617-778-0519

Email: info@masstpc.org

The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition is dedicated to ending discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression. They envision a world where persons of all genders are treated with respect and fully participate in all areas of society, free from fear of prohibition, harassment or violence based on their gender identity and/or expression. To that end they educate the public, advocate with state, local, and federal government, engage in political activism, and encourage empowerment of community members through collective action.

North East Transgender Alliance (NETA)

978-712-0144

NETA  is dedicated to the health and well-being of transgender people living in New England. They provide a warm friendly and safe place for transgender people to meet and receive support, information, and community connection. Their mission is to support and empower transgender people wherever they are in their process of transition and identity. NETA  is here to help transgender people identify their priorities and address their concerns. NETA  offers up-to-date and informative narratives, editorials, and many resources. Their door is open to all transgender or gender variant individuals, however they identify, who feel NETA's services would be of benefit.

 

NETA  provides a monthly support meeting for the LGBTIQ community on the first Wednesday of every month from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM at a secure location.  Please call 978-712-0144 for more information.  Friendly welcoming well-trained and educated staff facilitates the group. Many activities and informative discussions take place on a monthly basis.

Queer Asian Pacific Alliance

Email: qapa@qapa.org

Founded in 1979, QAPA, formerly AMALGM, is the oldest Asian queer organization in the United States. QAPA is committed to providing a supportive social, political, and educational environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning people of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage (this is inclusive of A/PIs, A/PI Americans and those who are of mixed A/PI heritage) in the Boston and New England area. We currently have over 200 active members in the New England area, plus many more ex-members spread around the world.

SpeakOUT Boston

877-223-9390

Email: info@speakoutboston.org

SpeakOUT is a community of speakers working to create a world free of homo-bi-trans-phobia and other forms of prejudice by telling the truths of our lives. They do so by conducting educational programs about LGBTQIA* lives and issues, training individuals and organizations to use public speaking as a means of creating positive cultural change, and sharing their lives and experiences publicly in order to support those struggling with sexuality and gender identity. They engage audiences in honest dialogue, and in keeping with their motto "Ask Us Anything," invite any questions that may challenge harmful stereotypes and misconceptions.

 

 

TransCEND (Transgender Care and Education Needs Diversity)

617-450-1102

617-450-1060

TransCEND (Transgender Care and Education Needs Diversity) is a program of AIDS Action Committee and is affiliated with Fenway Health. Founded in 2005, TransCEND is Boston’s first program by and for Transgender Women.

TransCEND’s staff, Charel and Sara, work in Boston supporting disadvantaged Transgender people. In addition to connecting Trans clients to culturally competent health care, they do HIV, HCV, and STI counseling and testing, prevention counseling services, needle exchange for hormones, housing search, homelessness support, legal and mental health referrals, and transition advice, including navigating the fast-changing trans-inclusive health insurance coverage options in Massachusetts. They also help clients learn to negotiate social settings and safer sex.

TransCEND offers one-on-one support, group support, and appointment accompaniment for medical care and legal name change.

TransCEND primarily serves Trans Women and their partners, but always welcome all people regardless of how you identify on the gender spectrum.

TransCEND also offers information and support for medical and mental health professionals, educators, and allies interested in supporting transgender clients. Drop-ins welcomed, appointments recommended.

Outside Massachusetts

Organizations with hotlines

LGBT National Help Center

All Ages National Hotline: 888-843-4564, SAGE Elder Hotline: 888-234-7243

LGBT National Youth Talkline: 1-800-246-7743

Email: help@LGBThotline.org

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) National Help Center, founded in 1996, is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization that provides vital peer-support, community connections and resource information to people with questions regarding sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Utilizing a diverse group of LGBT volunteers, they operate three national hotlines, the LGBT National Hotline, the LGBT National Youth Talkline, and the SAGE LGBT Elder Hotline as well as private, volunteer one-to-one online chat, that helps both youth and adults with coming-out issues, safer-sex information, school bullying, family concerns, relationship problems and a lot more. The National Help Center also maintains the largest collection of resources for the LGBT community in the United States, with 15,000 local resources for cities and towns across the country.

SAGE

SAGE LGBT Elder Hotline - 1-888-234-SAGE (7243)

212-741-2247

Email: info@sageusa.org

Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) is the country's largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults. Founded in 1978 and headquartered in New York City, SAGE is a national organization that offers supportive services and consumer resources for LGBT older adults and their caregivers, advocates for public policy changes that address the needs of LGBT older people, and provides training for aging providers and LGBT organizations, largely through its National Resource Center on LGBT Aging. With offices in New York City, Washington, DC and Chicago, SAGE coordinates a growing network of 28 local SAGE affiliates in 21 states and the District of Columbia.

SAGE operates a hotline where older adults can call and talk to supportive, non-judgmental peer. Hours are: Monday to Friday: 4pm-midnight ET and Saturday: Noon-5pm ET.

The Trevor Project

866-488-7386

310-271-8845

212-695-8650

1-202-304-1200 (Text Line)

Email: info@thetrevorproject.org

Founded in 1998 by the creators of the Academy Award®-winning short film TREVOR, The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24.  In addition to providing a 24/7 national crisis intervention and suicide prevention lifeline for LGBTQ youth, the organization also provides TrevorChat, a free confidential, secure instant messaging service available from 3-9pm ET, and TrevorText, where youth can text a trained Trevor counselor for support and crisis intervention on Fridays from 4-8pm at 202-304-1200.

Organizations without hotlines

Campus Pride

704-277-6710

Email: info@campuspride.org

Campus Pride represents the leading national nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization for student leaders and campus groups working to create a safer college environment for LGBTQ students. The organization is a volunteer-driven network “for” and “by” student leaders. The primary objective of Campus Pride is to develop necessary resources, programs and services to support LGBTQ and ally students on college campuses across the United States.

Campus Pride Index

(704) 277-6710

Email: info@campuspride.org

Since 2007, the Campus Pride Index has been the premier LGBTQ national benchmarking tool for colleges and universities to create safer, more inclusive campus communities.  The FREE online tool allows prospective students, families/parents and those interested in higher education to search a database of LGBTQ-friendly campuses who have come out to improve the academic experience and quality of campus life.

The Campus Pride Index sets the bar higher for LGBTQ-inclusive policies, programs and practices.  The index is owned and operated by Campus Pride, the leading national nonprofit organization for student leaders and campus groups working to create safer, more LGBTQ-friendly learning environments at colleges and universities. The index is supported under the Campus Pride Q Research Institute for Higher Education as well as benefits from strategic partnerships with professional organizations in higher education and related LGBTQ nonprofit organizations.

Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere (COLAGE)

(504) 313-0555

(828) 782-1938 (Kaley-Program & Chapter Inquiries)

Email: colage@colage.org

COLAGE is a national movement of children, youth, and adults with one or more lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or queer (LGBTQ) parents. This origanization builds community and works toward social justice through youth empowerment, leadership development, education, and advocacy. They envision a world in which youth with one or more lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or queer (LGBTQ) parents are connected to a broad community of peers and mentors, are recognized as the authorities of their shared experiences, belong to respected and valued family structures, and have the tools and support to create and maintain a just society.

Forge

414-559-2123

Email: AskFORGE@forge-forward.org

FORGE is a national transgender anti-violence organization, founded in 1994. Since 2009, FORGE has been federally funded to provide direct services to transgender, gender non-conforming and gender non-binary survivors of sexual assault. Since 2011, FORGE has served as the only transgender-focused organization federally funded to provide training and technical assistance to providers around the country who work with transgender survivors of sexual assault, domestic and dating violence, and stalking.   In addition to providing over 50 hours of recorded webinars on a variety of topics, visitors to their website can find a range of information  including how to receive more education as a professional.  Survivors, family members, friends and other supporters can find a range of information about finding support locally or find information about how to support their loved one.

Gender Spectrum

510-788-4412

Email: info@genderspectrum.org

Gender Spectrum’s mission is to create a gender-inclusive world for all children and youth. To accomplish this, they help families, organizations, and institutions increase understandings of gender and consider the implications that evolving views have for everyone. Gender Spectrum offers resources to empower individuals' relationships, work, and interactions with youth and children. From how-to guides, to respected research, to sample training materials, this wesbite provides the tools necessary to create gender inclusive environments in homes, offices, and communities.

It Gets Better Project

The It Gets Better Project's mission is to communicate to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth around the world that it gets better, and to create and inspire the changes needed to make it better for them.

Growing up isn’t easy. Many young people face daily tormenting and bullying, leading them to feel like they have nowhere to turn. This is especially true for LGBT kids and teens, who often hide their sexuality for fear of bullying. Without other openly gay adults and mentors in their lives, they can't imagine what their future may hold. In many instances, gay and lesbian adolescents are taunted — even tortured — simply for being themselves.

The It Gets Better Project was created to show young LGBT people the levels of happiness, potential, and positivity their lives will reach – if they can just get through their teen years. The It Gets Better Project wants to remind teenagers in the LGBT community that they are not alone — and it WILL get better.

Lambda Legal

212-809-8585

Founded in 1973, Lambda Legal is the oldest and largest national legal organization whose mission is to achieve full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.

Lambda Legal’s Help Desk provides information and resources regarding discrimination related to sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and HIV status.

As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, they do not charge their clients for legal representation or advocacy, and they receive no government funding. They depend on contributions from supporters around the country.

National Resource Center on LGBT Aging

212-741-2247

Email: info@lgbtagingcenter.org

The National Resource Center on LGBT Aging is the country's first and only technical assistance resource center aimed at improving the quality of services and supports offered to lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender older adults. Established in 2010 through a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging provides training, technical assistance and educational resources to aging providers, LGBT organizations and LGBT older adults. The center is led by SAGE, in collaboration with 18 leading organizations from around the country.

Point Foundation

866-337-6468

Email: info@thepointfoundation.org

The Point Foundation provides financial support, mentoring and hope to meritorious students who are marginalized due to sexual orientation, gender expression or gender identity.

T-VOX

The advice site is the main focus of T-Vox. The primary goal of T-Vox is to create an extensive library of topics that cover every aspect of subjects relating to genderqueerness, intersexuality and transsexuality. We now have over 500 pages of information and resources and we recently launched our advice blog to provide more in-depth advice and information on specific topics of interest to our users’ real lives.

True Colors - Sexual Minority Youth & Family Services

(860) 232-0050

True Colors is a non-profit organization that works with other social service agencies, schools, organizations, and within communities to ensure that the needs of sexual and gender minority youth are both recognized and competently met. The organization trains more than 2400 people annually, organizes the largest LGBT youth conference in the country with more than 3000 attendees and manages the state’s only LGBT mentoring program. True Colors has been spotlighted by both national and local media for their expertise in LGBTI youth issues.