Image of lotus and PRIDE in rainbow lettering

Two students one with rainbow headband

University is a time when many students begin to sort out their values and figure out who they are. It is not unusual for some students to question their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression and to explore how to integrate these with the rest of their life.

Students who are part of the Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, and asexual (2SLGBTQQIA+) community have enough on their plates navigating the usual pressures of post-secondary life without having to worry about feeling safe or discriminated against.   Student Health and Wellness provides a safe space, where you can find support, resources, information, and care. 

Pride at Lakehead

On-Campus Supports

Student Health and Wellness

Office of Human Rights and Equity

LUSU Pride Central

LUSU Gender Equity Centre

Off-Campus Groups and Supports

Thunder Bay

  • Thunder Pride
  • Rainbow Collective of Thunder Bay
  • Gender Journeys- group explores gender identity and expression and will provide reliable, up to date information on these topics
  • Umbrella Clinic- provides sexual health services for all ages, all genders, and all orientations
  • Elevate NWO- provides services, opportunities and programs to improve the lives and empower people living with, affected by or at risk of HIV, AIDS, and Hepatitis C 
  • The Other 10%- a group for youth and young adults between the ages of 12 and 25 who are interested in exploring what it means – and doesn’t mean – to be a part of the 2SLGBTQ community.

Orillia

Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Gender Expression

The Gender Unicorn

Image of Gender Unicorn that depicts the spectrum of gender identity, gender expression, sex assigned at birth, physical attraction and emotional attractionText-only version

Definitions:
Gender Identity: One’s internal sense of being male, female, neither of these, both, or another gender(s). Everyone has a gender identity, including you. For transgender people, their sex assigned at birth and their own internal sense of gender identity are not the same. Female, woman, and girl and male, man, and boy are also not necessarily linked to each other but are just six common gender identities.
Gender Expression/Presentation: The physical manifestation of one’s gender identity through clothing, hairstyle, voice, body shape, etc. Many transgender people seek to make their gender expression (how they look) match their gender identity (who they are), rather than their sex assigned at birth.
Sex Assigned at Birth: The assignment and classification of people as male, female, intersex, or another sex based on a combination of anatomy, hormones, chromosomes. It is important we don’t simply use “sex” because of the vagueness of the definition of sex and its place in transphobia. Chromosomes are frequently used to determine sex from prenatal karyotyping (although not as often as genitalia). Chromosomes do not always determine genitalia, sex, or gender.
Physically Attracted To: Sexual orientation. It is important to note that sexual and romantic/emotional attraction can be from a variety of factors including but not limited to gender identity, gender expression/presentation, and sex assigned at birth.
Emotionally Attracted To: Romantic/emotional orientation. It is important to note that sexual and romantic/emotional attraction can be from a variety of factors including but not limited to gender identity, gender expression/presentation, and sex assigned at birth. There are other types of attraction related to gender such as aesthetical or platonic. These are simply two common forms of attraction.

Pronouns

Pronouns are the terms used to describe someone in the third person in place of their name. For many — though not all — people who are trans or non-binary, a shift in pronouns is an affirming part of the transition process. It can help a trans person and the people in their lives start to see them as their affirmed gender. Getting a person’s pronouns wrong is a fairly common example of misgendering. When someone is referred to with the wrong pronoun, it can make them feel disrespected, invalidated, dismissed, alienated, or dysphoric (often all of the above.)

It is a privilege to not have to worry about which pronoun someone is going to use for you based on how they perceive your gender. If you have this privilege, yet fail to respect someone else’s gender identity, it is not only disrespectful and hurtful, but also oppressive.

There are no “male/female” or “man/woman” pronouns. All pronouns can be used for any gender and are gender neutral.

Gender pronouns table

Text-only version

Mental Health

Although 2SLGBTQQIA+ people are as diverse as the general Canadian population in their experiences of mental health and well-being, they face higher risks for some mental health issues due to the effects of discrimination and the social determinants of health. This list of supports is by no means exhaustive but it is a place to start. If we are missing something you know about, please feel free to email activities.shcc@lakeheadu.ca

Supports and Resources
  • Rainbow Health Ontario has a service provider directory
  • 2spirits.com- provides prevention education and support for 2-Spirit, including First Nations, metis and Inuit people living with or at risk for HIV and related co-infections in the Greater Toronto Area. Their work is based on indigenous philosophies of holistic health and wellness.
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bi & Trans Youthline – The Lesbian, Gay, Bi & Trans Youthline offers free peer support for youth aged 26 and under (1-800-268-9688).
  • Goodhead.ca is for guys into guys (G2G) — gay, bisexual, queer, questioning, two-spirit, genderqueer, gender non-binary, trans, and other guys who are sexually and/or romantically interested in other guys. It’s a place for G2G to learn and get curious about the mental health issues affecting them and their communities and to help them locate mental health services in Ontario.
  • Parents, Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) – PFLAG (www.pflagcanada.ca) is a resource for LGBT people and their families.
  • Trans Lifeline- A national trans-led organization dedicated to improving the quality of trans lives and fighting the epidemic of trans suicide. We are based in the US but do have a suicide hotline that is available to folks in Canada (1-877-330-6366)
  • Autostraddle-An online community and magazine for lesbian, bisexual and otherwise identifying people and their friends.
  • Empty Closets- Empty Closets is an LGBTQ website that offers a forum where you can join in on discussions or start your own, a chat room and useful articles and links. 
  • The Bisexual Resource Center- offers resources for individuals who identify as bisexual or pansexual and their families. These resources include mental and sexual health guides, youth resources, and coming out tips.
  • Jack.org Pride Resources- a list of organizations and resources that are available year-round to promote health and happiness for gender and/or sexually diverse people.
  • It Gets Better Campaign – In response to publicized suicides by LGBT youth, author Dan Savage initiated the It Gets Better campaign (http://www.itgetsbetter.org) through which supportive LGBT people and allies share supportive messages through online videos.

Sexual Wellness and Healthy Relationships

Sexual Health and Wellness

Before having sex with your partner(s), you should consider your individual risk for pregnancy and sexually transmitted illnesses (STIs). Your anatomy and the anatomy of your partner(s) are the key factors here, not your gender identity or sexual orientation. Visit our safer sex page to learn more about the risks of having an STI passed on to you depending on the kind of sex you are having and how to reduce those risks.

This LGBTQIA Safer Sex Guide gives further sexual wellness information that considers the complexity and diversity across gender identities, sexual orientation, attractions, and experiences.

Healthy Relationships

A healthy relationship is a healthy relationship regardless of your sexual orientation, gender expression or gender identity. You know your relationship is probably healthy if your partner:

  • Respects your chosen gender pronouns or name.
  • Respects your boundaries.
  • Gives you space to hang out with friends and family without thinking you’re cheating.
  • Doesn’t take your money or tell you what to buy.
  • Never threatens to out you to people.
  • Never tells you you’re not a real lesbian, gay man, trans person or whatever you identify as because you don’t have sex the way they want you to

If your relationship is abusive or unhealthy, you can face unique obstacles to seeking help as a member of the Pride community. Whether or not you’re ready to end the relationship, consider creating a safety plan. Know that you are not alone and there are places that can help.

Intimate Partner Violence
Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) refers to any behaviour within an intimate relationship that causes physical, psychological or sexual harm to those in the relationship. Such behaviours can include any combination of the following: 
  • Physical violence- such as hitting, punching, kicking, slapping. 
  • Psychological abuse- such as intimidation, belittling, humiliation 
  • Sexual violence- forced intercourse and unwanted sexual touching
  • Coercive control- various controlling behaviours such as isolating a partner from their family and friends, restricting their access to resources and controlling their finances 
  • Stalking- a pattern of threatening or harassing tactics that cause an individual to fear for their health, safety or wellbeing.

Social and legal stigma of being 2SLGBTQQIA+ broadens significantly the scope of abusive tactics available to an exploitative partner. These tactics often include taking advantage of an individual’s gender representation or sexual orientation.

  • Closeting- forcing a victim to hide they trans or sexual minority status from others by overtly demanding or pressuring the victim to remain quiet about their status.
  • Outing- the opposite of closeting. Disclosing a victim's trans or sexual minority status, either by directly telling others or indirectly forcing the victim to show public signs of affection like handholding and kissing.
  • Threats- Threats to out the victim's trans or minority status, threats against the victim or their loved ones, and threats of self-harm or suicide. 
  • Identity Abuse- Abusers may use a victim's marginalized social status to control or shame them. Using a transgender person's birth name or former pronouns without permission.
  • Other anti-sexual minority psychological IPV tactics can include: accusing a victim or not being lesbian, gay or bisexual enough, telling bisexual victims they are not a "real" sexual minority or accusing a sexual minority victim of making the abuser a sexual minority. 

For more information about how to recognize instances of IPV, victims’ rights in Canada, what to expect should the victim choose to report to police and the consequences of IPV-download this guidebook from the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity.

Learn more about Lakehead's sexual violence supports and response.

Gender-Based Violence

Gender-based violence (GBV) is violence committed against someone because of their gender expression, gender identity or perceived gender. GBV is not limited to physical violence and can include any word, action, or attempt to degrade, control, humiliate, intimidate, coerce, deprive, threaten, or harm another person. While violence affects all people, GBV has a disproportionate impact on 2SLGBTQQIA+ and gender non-conforming people.

The negative effects of GBV reach far beyond the individuals who directly experience them. Violence can have long-lasting and negative health, social and economic effects that span generations, which can lead to cycles of violence and abuse within families and sometimes whole communities. GBV holds us all back.

Learn more about Lakehead's Sexual and Gender Based Violence Response Policy by visiting the Office of Human Rights and Equity's website

Supports

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911, campus security or your local police.

Sexual Violence Support and Response

  • LGBT Youthline – confidential, non-judgemental and informed LGBTQ2S+ peer support
  • Trans Lifeline – a trans-led organization that connects trans people to the community, support and resources they need to survive and thrive

Navigating Religion and 2SLGBTQQIA+ identities

The relationship between religion and the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community is complicated and can be a source of both solace and suffering. If you are struggling to reconcile faith and your identity, expression, or sexuality, you are not alone. Check out some of the resources below to help you make your own decisions and find supportive faith communities.

Resources

Being an Ally

Your active and visible support can make a difference in a range of university environments. An ally for the sexual diversity community takes action. Allies work towards recognizing their own biases and privileges, offer support by working with individuals or groups that are teased, ridiculed, treated disrespectfully in and out of the classroom, bullied, and/or discriminated against based on their sexuality. 

Initial Steps

Make a commitment to:

  • Not assume that your friends, classmates, colleagues and professors are straight.

  • Speak up and address homophobic innuendo, comments and jokes. Let your friends, colleagues and classmates know that you find those kinds of comments hurtful and offensive. 

  • Be visible in your support. Introduce yourself with your own pronouns and ask which pronouns a person use.

  • Be mindful of people’s safety. Don’t out someone.

  • Reflect upon your own assumptions about sexuality stereotypes, intersections of race, class and other intersecting identities of 2SLGBTQQIA+ students, staff and faculty. 

  • Treat people with dignity and respect regardless of their sexuality, sexual identities or attractions.

  • Use gender-inclusive terms, say ‘Hi everyone’ instead of ‘Hi ladies.’ 

  • Respectfully ask if you don't know what pronouns to use. 

  • Respect the diversity of 2SLGBTQQIA+ lives. These identities are part of other intersecting identities, for example, with their race, class, and/or religion.

Asking about Pronouns

Start by sharing your own pronouns when you introduce yourself (e.g. Hi my name is x and my pronouns are x/x/x). Doing so is the best way to encourage other people to share their pronouns, to help make them more comfortable to share their pronouns with you. You can follow that statement by asking how you should refer to them. 

Asking people for their pronouns should ideally happen in small group situations. If people don’t want to disclose their pronouns, respect their wishes and do not push for them to give a response. You do not have the right to someone’s pronouns if the person is not comfortable discussing them with you.

If you don't have the chance to introduce yourself, don't assume pronouns based on appearance. Avoid gendered language and if you must use a pronoun, opt for non-binary pronouns such as they/them. Listen to the pronoun other people use when referring to the person, someone who knows them well will probably use the correct pronoun. If you accidentally use the wrong pronoun, apologize quickly and sincerely, then move on. The bigger deal you make out of the situation, the more uncomfortable it is for everyone.

Resources like the They/Them Project can teach you how to talk about gender identities in a respectful way.

Prevent Misgendering

Stopping your own misgendering behaviours and encouraging others to do so is an easy and effective way to support the trans people in your life.

Here are a few things you can do to prevent misgendering and affirm a person’s identity:

Don’t make assumptions. You might think you know how someone identifies, but you can never know for certain unless you ask.

Always ask what words you should use! You can ask people specifically or ask people who know a given person. Or, you can simply get in the habit of asking everyone their pronouns and terms they use for themselves.

Use the right name and pronouns for the trans people in your life. You should do this all the time, not just when they’re around. This signals the proper way to refer to your trans friends to other people. It also helps you get accustomed to saying the right thing.

Avoid using gendered language to speak to or describe people unless you know it’s the language that a particular person prefers. Examples of gendered language include:

  • honourifics such as “sir” or “ma’am”

  • terms like “ladies,” “guys,” or “ladies and gentlemen” to refer to a group of people

  • typically gendered adjectives such as “handsome” and “beautiful”

Practice using these gender-neutral terms and forms of address instead. You can say things like “my friend” instead of “sir” or “ma’am,” and refer to groups of people as “folks,” “y’all,” or “guests.”

Don’t default to gender-neutral language if you know how a person wishes to be addressed. It can seem like using the singular “they” to describe everyone is a safe bet, and sometimes that’s actually a good way to navigate a situation where you’re uncertain how a person identifies. But, it’s important to respect the wishes of people who have specific gendered language that they want you to use.

Avoid using passive language. Instead of saying: “X identifies as a woman” or “Y prefers he/him/his pronouns,” say things like “X is a woman” or “Y’s pronouns are he/him/his.”

Apologize and correct At the end of the day, know that it’s fine to make a mistake here or there so long as you don’t make a habit of it. If you do make a mistake, just apologize and move on.

More Resources