What’s the difference between sex and gender?
Sex and gender are often used interchangeably but refer to different aspects of a person's identity.
Sex refers to perceived biological differences between males and females. Typically, a person is assigned a sex at birth based on these biological features.
Gender, on the other hand, refers to the social and cultural roles, behaviours, and expectations associated with being male or female. It encloses various characteristics and expressions, such as attitudes, interests, clothing, and hairstyles, associated with being masculine or feminine.
While sex is often considered binary (male or female), gender is more of a spectrum that includes a range of gender identities beyond just male and female, including non-binary and genderqueer identities.
How are sexual orientation and gender identity determined?
Sexual orientation refers to an individual's emotional, romantic, and sexual attraction to others. It can be determined by a complex interplay of genetic, hormonal, environmental, and cultural factors, but the extent of influence is still being researched. It's important to note that sexual orientation is a deeply personal aspect of a person's identity. Everyone's experiences are unique, and people may come to understand and express their sexual orientation and gender identity in different ways and times in their lives.
Is it possible to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity?
No, it is not possible to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity through therapy, medication, or other means. Sexual orientation and gender identity are fundamental aspects of a person's identity, and attempting to change them can be harmful and cause significant psychological distress.
Also, people may demonstrate fluidity in their sexual and gender identity, which can be positive for individuals. It allows them to explore and express their identities in ways that feel true to themselves. It's important to create a safe and supportive environment where individuals feel free to explore their identities without judgment or stigma.
What is the "LGBTQIA+?" mean?
A woman whose enduring physical, romantic, and/or emotional attraction is to other women. Some lesbians may prefer to identify as gay or as gay women.
The adjective describes people whose enduring physical, romantic, and/or emotional attractions are to people of the same gender. Note that sometimes lesbian is the preferred term for women.
A person who can form enduring physical, romantic, and/or emotional attractions to those of the same gender or more than one gender. People may experience this attraction in differing ways and degrees over their lifetime. Bisexual people don't need to have specific sexual experiences to be bisexual; they don't need to have any sexual experience at all to identify as bisexual. This term is similar to ‘pansexual’, which indicates physical, romantic, and/or emotional attraction to any person regardless their gender.
An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from what is typically associated with the gender they were assigned at birth. People under the transgender umbrella may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms— including transgender or nonbinary. Some transgender people are prescribed hormones by their doctors to bring their bodies into alignment with their gender identity. Some undergo surgery as well like the "gender confirmation surgery" or "sex reassignment surgery" (SRS) in which it changes the sex characteristics of one’s body, including genitals and/or secondary sex characteristics. But, due to psychological, financial, and physical reasons, many do not, and that doesn’t mean they’re not transgender. Thus, transgender identity is not dependent upon physical appearance or medical procedures.
Sometimes, people use the word ‘trans’ for short. The opposite word is ‘Cisgender’ which indicates a person who identifies with the gender assigned to them at birth. Sometimes it is written in a short form (“cis”)
You must wait to see how someone self-identifies or ask respectfully before assuming. In any case, you should allow individuals to express it and respect their choice even if this is not aligned with your culture, beliefs or any other form of expression like your religion.
An adjective used by some people whose sexual orientation and/or gender identity is different from the ones that are considered the standard. This umbrella term includes people with nonbinary, gender-fluid, or gender-nonconforming identities, as well as people with same-sex attraction. Once considered a pejorative term, queer has been reclaimed by some LGBTQIA+ people to describe themselves; however, it is not a universally accepted term even within the LGBTQIA+ community.
Sometimes, when the Q is seen at the end of LGBT, it can also mean questioning. This term describes someone who is questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity.
An adjective used to describe a person with one or more innate sex characteristics, including genitals, internal reproductive organs, and chromosomes, that fall outside of traditional conceptions of male or female bodies. Do not confuse having an intersex trait with being transgender. Intersex people are assigned a gender at birth — either male or female — and that decision by medical providers and parents may not match the gender identity of the child. The intersex movement has challenged the ethics of infant genital surgeries that are not medically necessary, pointing out that many intersex people who undergo such surgery in infancy later report feeling a sense of loss of an essential aspect of themselves. Keep in mind that not all intersex folks identify as being part of the LGBTQIA+ community.
The adjective describes a person who does not experience sexual attraction. Sometimes shortened to “ace,” it is an umbrella term that can also include people who are demisexual, meaning they do experience some sexual attraction; graysexual, meaning those who may not fit the strictest definition of the word asexual; and aromantic, meaning they experience little to no romantic attraction and/or has little to no desire to form romantic relationships. Many asexual people may feel romantic attraction to people of a certain gender without feeling sexual attraction.
The ‘plus’ is used to signify all of the gender identities and sexual orientations that letters and words cannot yet fully describe.
How does someone know they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender?
Some individuals say that they "felt different" or were attracted to people of the same sex since childhood or felt that their gender identity did not match parental and social standards. Others discover their sexual orientation or gender identity later in their life as adults. With a better understanding of LGBTQI+ people and their rights and by creating a more diverse and inclusive society, it is easier for people to identify and express their feelings safely.
What are the rights and protections afforded to LGBTQI+ individuals in Greece?
In Greece, LGBTQ+ individuals have some legal protections, but discrimination and social stigma still exist against this community. Here are some of the critical rights and protections afforded to LGBTQ+ individuals in Greece:
- Discrimination: Discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is prohibited in employment, education, housing, and access to goods and services, under Greek law.
- Hate speech and hate crimes: Hate speech and hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity are illegal in Greece.
- Civil partnerships: In 2015, Greece passed a law allowing same-sex couples to enter into civil partnerships. This provides some legal recognition and protection to same-sex couples, including rights related to property and inheritance. However, civil partnerships do not provide the same rights and protections as marriage.
- Gender identity: Greece legally recognizes gender identity changes for transgender individuals, but the process can be complicated and involves extensive documentation and legal requirements.
What are the common misconceptions about LGBTQI+ community?
There are many common misconceptions about the LGBTQI+ community, and here are some of them:
- Being LGBTQI+ is a personal choice that should be respected.
- LGBTQI+ individuals are mentally ill: Being LLGBTQI+ is not a mental illness. However, members of the LGBTQI+ community can experience mental health issues, which may be related to discrimination and social stigma.
- LGBTQI+ individuals are not religious: Many members of the LGBTQI+ community are religious and find ways to reconcile their faith and identity.
These misconceptions are harmful and can perpetuate discrimination and prejudice towards the LGBTQI+ community and individuals. Our society must challenge these beliefs to create a more inclusive and accepting society.
What kinds of challenges do members of the LGBTQI+ community face in Greece, including discrimination, violence, and social exclusion?
Members of the LGBTQI+ community in Greece face various challenges, including discrimination, violence, and social exclusion. While progress has been made in recent years, there are still significant obstacles that impact the lives of LGBTQI+ individuals in the country.
- Legal Protections: Although Greece has made strides in recognizing LGBTQI+ rights, certain legal protections are still lacking. Same-sex marriage is not legally recognized, although civil partnerships were introduced in 2015. Transgender individuals also face hurdles in legally transitioning, including requirements for sterilization.
- Discrimination and Social Stigma: LGBTQI+ individuals often experience discrimination in various aspects of their lives, such as employment, housing, and access to public services. They may face unequal treatment, harassment, or even be denied services based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Coming out can be challenging, and many face rejection.
- Hate Crimes and Violence: Hate crimes targeting LGBTQI+ people occur in Greece, ranging from verbal and emotional abuse to physical violence.
- Transgender Rights: Transgender individuals face specific challenges, including difficulties accessing gender-affirming healthcare, legal recognition, and societal acceptance. Legal gender transition can be complicated, requiring extensive medical and legal procedures.
I don’t feel safe in my community. What can I do?
We are sorry you do not feel safe in your community. Remember to prioritize your safety! You can always message our team on Facebook so we can refer you to organizations that can support you.
- Seek support from people you trust or a mental health professional who can provide emotional support and guidance.
- Connect with LGBTQI+ organizations to get resources, support, or even information on safe spaces.
- Take steps to protect your physical safety, such as avoiding unsafe areas or situations and being mindful of who you share personal information with.
- If you ever feel threatened or unsafe, do not hesitate to contact authorities or seek emergency assistance.
What are some resources available to LGBTQI+ individuals in Greece, including support groups, advocacy organizations, and legal services and especially for asylum seekers and refugees
If you need support to apply your rights or help in regards to accommodation, health, protection or any matter that you need someone to advise, you can reach out to the below organisations:
- LGBTQI+ Psychological Support Line «11528 – Dipla Sou»
- Emantes’ Support Line
- Community Workshops for LGBTQIA+
- Livelihood Workshops
- The Dream Academy
- Streetwork Project Athens
- Streetwork Project Thessaloniki
- Red Umbrella Athens - Empowerment Center for Sex Workers
- Red Umbrella Thessaloniki - Empowerment Center for Sex Workers
- Testing for HIV, HBV, HCV and Syphilis – Sexual health counseling (Athens “Checkpoint”)
- Testing for HIV, HBV, HCV and Syphilis – Sexual health counseling (Thessaloniki “Checkpoint”)
- Ref Checkpoint - Free HIV and Hepatitis B & C testing for refugees and asylum seekers
- Empowerment and Psychosocial Support services for people living with HIV (Athens)
- Empowerment and Psychosocial Support services for people living with HIV (Thessaloniki)
What should I do if I think someone is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, but they haven’t told me?
If you suspect that someone may be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBTQI+), it is essential to approach the situation with sensitivity and respect for their privacy. Here are some tips on what to do:
- Respect their privacy: Someone's sexual orientation or gender identity is personal information, and it is up to them to share it. Avoid pressuring them to come out or making assumptions about their identity.
- Create a safe and accepting environment: Make sure the person feels safe and comfortable around you and knows they can trust you. You can create a space of acceptance by learning more about LGBTQI+ people so that you can better understand and support the person if and when they choose to come out and be open-minded.
- Stand up against discrimination and prejudice and create a safe and inclusive space for them.
- Wait for them to come out: It is up to the individual to decide when, if and how to come out. While it may be tempting to ask them directly, respecting their timing and decisions is essential.
Remember that coming out can be a difficult and emotional process for many LGBTQI+ individuals, and they may need support and understanding from those around them.
What should I do if my child is LGBTQI+?
If you have a child who identifies as LGBTQI+, it is essential to prioritize their emotional well-being and show your support for them. Show your love and acceptance, and reassure them that their sexual orientation or gender identity does not change your feelings about them. Give your child space to talk about their feelings and experiences. Listen to them without judgment, and encourage open and honest communication.
It can be helpful to seek support from other parents of LGBTQI+ children or mental health professionals specialising in LGBTQI+ issues.
It is challenging to explore my sexual orientation while following my faith. What can I do?
If you feel that your sexual orientation is not following your faith, here are some steps to consider:
- Give yourself time: It's important to remember that self-discovery is a journey that takes time. It's okay if you don't have all the answers right now.
- Reach out to trusted individuals: Consider confiding in a trusted friend, family member, or people who are friendly to or belong to the community and can provide support and guidance. Talking with others who have had similar experiences can also be helpful.
- Seeking professional help: If you are experiencing a lot of distress, anxiety, or confusion, consider speaking with a therapist familiar with your religion and LGBTQI+ issues. They can provide support and guidance as you navigate your feelings and identity. You can also reach out to LGBTQI+ organisations acting on this.
Remember, you are not alone in your journey; many people and resources are available to support you. If you feel unsafe, you can message the Refugee.Info team on Facebook or WhatsApp.
Can anyone help me leave my country due to my LGBTQI+ identity?
Some organizations offer assistance and support to LGBTQI+ individuals seeking to leave their country due to persecution or discrimination. Rainbow Railroad and ORAM are international organizations that specialize in protecting refugees fleeing persecution based on their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.
It's important to note that leaving your country can be a complex and challenging process, and not everyone may be eligible for asylum or refugee status. It's best to contact these organizations for guidance and support in exploring your options.