As a clinical sexologist and certified sex therapist, I get asked many questions every week about sexuality. I find that many people struggle with shyness or uncertainty when discussing sex because it is viewed as a taboo subject. I appreciate people who want to learn more and find the answers they are looking for.
People’s views of human sexuality are often affected by how they were educated about sex and their experience, or lack thereof with sexuality. Through the years of working with individuals, couples, and families there are a few questions that continue to surface. Here are the three most common questions about sexuality.
“My partner wants sex more than I do, what’s wrong with me?”
Every person is different which means their desires, libidos, and sexual interest varies. A common dilemma many couples face is when one person wants to have sex more than the other person. Many factors can affect a person’s sexual drive, libido, and desire. From medications to activity level, as well as medical and mental health issues, there are a variety of things that can decrease interest.
The worse thing a person can do is attach their lack of sexual desire or interest to their self-worth. Don’t assume that something is wrong with you or you're flawed because of your level of sexual desire. If the difference in sexual desire is affecting you or your relationship reach out to a clinician who is trained in sex therapy.
“Isn’t sexual and gender identity the same thing?”
Even though there has been an increase in education and conversations around LGBTQIA+ topics, there are people who don’t understand the difference between sexual and gender identity.
Sexual identity is based on your feelings, attractions, and desires. Think of it as who you find romantically and/or sexually attractive. Keep in mind that sexual behavior doesn’t always align with sexual identity. Gender identity is how you identify, present, and live your life in reference to your gender. Your sexual and gender identity may be fluid throughout your life.
“Is being transgender a mental illness or medical diagnosis?”
This question comes my way a lot due to my specialty in transgender healthcare. Being transgender, gender nonbinary, or gender queer isn’t a mental illness or medical diagnosis. When a transgender person visits a therapist or medical doctor they will not receive a diagnosis for their gender identity because it isn’t a disorder.
Some individuals struggle with gender dysphoria which is outlined in the DSM-5. This is a set of criteria where an individual may feel distress about their gender in different parts of their lives. The criteria for gender dysphoria are specific for children versus adolescents and adults. Some individuals undergo social and/or medical transition to elevate their gender dysphoria. Not every transgender, nonbinary, or gender queer person has gender dysphoria.
These three common questions come up often for clinicians working in the field of human sexuality. I encourage people always to ask questions as long as they are appropriate and come from a genuine interest. As a society, if we embrace human sexuality and improve the conversations around it, we will continue to improve our acceptance of all people.
Dr. Kristie Overstreet is a clinical sexologist, certified sex therapist, licensed professional clinical counselor, author, speaker, and consultant. She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Sexology, Master of Arts in Professional Counseling, and a Bachelor of Science in Biology. She is a licensed counselor in California, Florida, Georgia, and Louisiana. She is also a Certified Sex Therapist and Certified Addiction Professional. She has over 12 years of clinical experience specializing in sex therapy, transgender healthcare, relationships, and helping counselors build their private practice. She is president of Therapy Department, a private practice that provides counseling, training, speaking, and consulting services across the United States. For more information about Dr. Kristie's work visit www.KristieOverstreet.com.