What you need to know about queer sexual health

July 6, 2022

Alongside disparities in mental health, LGBTQIA+ people have inequalities in their reproductive and sexual health. Reasons for this include previously negative experiences, limited access to inclusive services (particularly for regional and remote people), and a lack of practitioner knowledge around certain concepts (especially around gender identity). Most sexual health education provided in schools is centred around heterosexual and cisgender experiences, which leaves LGBTQIA+ people largely uninformed.

Q1: Can I get an STI if I don’t have penetrative sex?

A: YES! Many people lack understanding that sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) can affect anyone, regardless of gender or sexuality. Any couple, heterosexual, queer or same-sex that engage in genital-to-genital touching, manual stimulation, oral sex, or sharing sex toys, should get sexual health checks and wear protection. Click HERE for info about barrier methods.

Q2: Can transgender and non- binary people get pregnant or cause pregnancy?

A: Even if you are taking testosterone, if you have a uterus and are having sex with someone with a penis, there is a risk of getting pregnant. People assigned male at birth who take oestrogen can cause a pregnancy if they have sex with someone with a uterus. As such, using protection is very important.

Q3: I don’t feel interested in sex, am I ‘normal’?

A: What’s normal? If you are not interested in sex, you may be asexual. This is ‘normal’ and means you fit under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella! Hiiii!

Q4: I am transgender and take hormones, but my sexual desires and function have changed. What’s going on?

A: For some trans people, hormonal and/or surgical affirmation may change their sexual desires and function. Other medication can also impact sexual desire and function. It may be helpful to speak to your healthcare provider.

Q5: I am queer and want to have a sexual and/or romantic relationship with another queer person. Will my relationship be harder than for a heterosexual couple?

A: LGBTQIA+ relationships may face challenges. Homophobia and transphobia still exist. However, if you are in a loving, communicative, relationship, there is no reason you cannot be happy and thrive (AND be representation for others!).

For Allies:

Q1: What does LGBTQIA+ stand for?

A: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual. The + acknowledges the fact that there are more identities that are not represented in the acronym but are still included in the community.

Q2: How do I support LGBTQIA+ young people?

A: Make yourself a visible ally- a progressive pride pin, pronouns in your email signature and a rainbow lanyard can go along way. They suggest you may be a safe person to talk to and can really help a young person. Call out homophobia, transphobia or queerphobia. Educate yourself rather than asking that queer people educate you- this is asking for free emotional labour, and google exists for a reason.

Q3: How do I support and empower LGBTQIA+ young people with their sexual health?

A: Educate yourself on contraception, barrier methods, STI’s and transgender sexual health. Learn about your local services for referral as needed. Find healthcare providers that are LGBTQIA+ friendly. Encourage young people who are sexually active to get tested regularly.