June is Pride Month, a time established to celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community. As more and more folks begin to live their truth and honor their queer identity, there is an increased need to understand the many “buzzwords” associated with these conversations about sexual orientation and gender identity. MiraCare hopes to be a resource to help families navigate these conversations in a healthy, respectful and supportive way.

Common LGBTQIA+ Terms to Know

Sex Assigned at Birth: This is sometimes referred to as biological sex, or natal sex. “Sex” refers to the anatomy and physical differences between people who are born male, female or intersex, including their genitalia and chromosome composition. Intersex people are born with reproductive or sexual anatomy characteristics that don’t fit into the category of male or female.

Gender Identity: This is the internal sense of identifying as male, female or somewhere along the spectrum. Someone who identifies with their sex assigned at birth is cisgender. Someone who identifies with a sex different from their sex assigned at birth is transgender. Because gender is a spectrum, some people prefer to identify as gender fluid if they are feeling more male one day or more female another day, while others disregard the binary spectrum of man and woman altogether and identify as non-binary.

Gender Expression: People communicate their gender to others through gender expression. These are the traits you prefer to express on the spectrum of femininity and masculinity. People will do this through their clothing, hair, mannerisms and interests.

Sexual Orientation: This expresses what traits you are attracted to physically, emotionally and romantically. Gender identity develops separately from sexual orientation. Remember that identity is how I feel about myself, while orientation is how I feel about others. Someone born male can continue to be attracted to men or male presenting people regardless of if they identify as male or female.

What to Do When Your Child Begins Expressing Interest in Identifying Their Gender or Sexual Orientation

Lead with Love and Support: The most important thing you can do for your child is provide them reassurance that they are loved and supported.

Try Keeping Qualities Gender Neutral: Traits such as liking sports or fashion, preferring certain colors, or expressing traits that are typically gendered but are not exclusive to one gender, such as being brave or strong or sensitive or passive.

Find Support for Yourself: When your child starts conversations like this that may be challenging to navigate, it is ok to feel confused, shocked or afraid. Your child sharing this piece of themselves with you may have a major impact on you, and it is important for you to learn tools and skills to confront your feelings and to help you support and interact with your child.

How MiraCare Supports LGBTQIA+ Families:

Family-Inclusive, Non-Gendered Language: Our team at MiraCare takes the time to use intentional language that helps all families feel represented and valued. Staff will use the term “family” or “support system” when a child does not have a traditional family unit.

Use of Preferred Name and Pronouns: We want our patients to feel supported during their stay with us, and our team recognizes that one way to support a patient exploring their identity is by using their preferred name and pronouns. We keep the conversation around identity open and ongoing, so the patient feels comfortable making a request to go by a different name or pronouns.

People and Culture Committee: To prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion, MiraCare developed their People and Culture Committee. This committee meets to discuss how MiraCare is able to deliver value-based care to our community in a way that honors the many cultural and social differences of the populations we serve. A major way this committee acts on this is by creating training and learning opportunities, including topics such as pronoun use training, trans identity education and a firm non-discrimination policy.

If you or someone you care about is looking for LGBTQIA+ friendly treatment, call MiraCare at (708)726-MIRA (6472) to schedule an appointment, or visit miracaregroup.com to learn more about our Inpatient Hospital Care, Partial Hospitalization Program and Outpatient Services.

Written by:
Brit Williams of MiraCare Group
Operations Coordinator