We’ve put together a full resource list for therapists and counsellors looking to understand more about LGBTQ+ and GSRD issues.
As counsellors, it’s easy for us to feel we are accepting of all identities, but what if we haven’t considered all the identities that are out there? Inevitably there will be identities and experiences that are new to us where we may lack understanding or hold incorrect assumptions (a common example being around those who are polyamorous, asexual or practice BDSM, to name a few). We may also feel we understand what it is to be gay, and yet we live in a heteronormative society so again there may be ways we’re limited in our views.
This could all sound negative, but the key is intention – to learn, understand and accept. Whilst it may feel like a lot is changing, none of these identities are new – people have felt how they do within themselves and in relationships for all of time, during which cultures have reacted differently, at times embracing gender and sexual diversity, whilst many other cultures condemned it.
We’re at a point, aided by people being able to present their own stories and experiences online, that people can increasingly start to understand who they are and live authentically. That is wonderful and cause for hope. Sadly, there is also pushback, with transphobia and misinformation at scary levels. That’s why it’s even more crucial we understand what we mean when we talk about LGBTQ+ identities and Gender, Sex and Relationship Diversity (GSRD).
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LGBTQ+ and GSRD Resources
There are so many wonderful resources to learn from, so we’re highlighting here the diversity of those resources in themselves including graphics and guides to longer more academic books or memoirs, TV and film, podcasts and more.
Increasingly there are more and more books we can learn from about gender, sexual and relationship diversity with new memoirs being released and non-fiction guides to subjects previously unpublished about such as non-binary identities and asexuality.
If cost is a barrier for you don’t forget about your local library. They may have more reading material around GSRD and LGBTQ+ issues than you realise. You can also request that they add books if they are lacking them, which many will be happy to do.
Books by Meg-John Barker
We’ll start off with Meg-John Barker’s books. Their books are insightful yet accessible introductions to these topics. Meg-John (along with Jules Scheele as illustrator) is the author of…
- A Graphic Guide to Gender
- A Graphic Guide to Sexuality
- A Graphic Guide to Queer History
- Life Isn’t Binary
- How to Understand Your Gender: A Practical Guide for Exploring Who You Are (a great one to recommend to clients)
They are also the author of the BACP’s Good Practice across the Counselling Professions guide to Gender, Sexual, and Relationship Diversity (GSRD) – a free 68-page document which introduces the key aspects of GSRD and what good practice looks like when working with these client groups.
Meg-John Barker was our trainer for a BTP workshop on *Gender, Sexual, & Relationship Diversity* in June 2021. Check out the BTP events page to find out about other great workshops and conferences that we’re hosting.
Other great books on GSRD and LGBTQ+ issues
In addition to Meg-John Barker’s books, we highly recommend looking at some of the following.
- Other great introductions to gender, sexual and relationship diversity
- The Modern Clinician’s Guide to Working with LGBTQ+ Clients: The Inclusive Psychotherapist (this also covers the often misunderstood areas of BDSM, kink and polyamory)
- From Ace to Ze: The Little Book of LGBT Terms
- Counselling Skills for Working with Gender Diversity and Identity
- On gender we recommend
- Person-Centred Counselling for Trans and Gender Diverse People: A Practical Guide (so valuable for all therapists regardless of modality)
- Gender Trauma: Healing Cultural, Social, and Historical Gendered Trauma
- The Gender Games
- Trans Like Me
- Not Just a Tomboy
- They/Them/Their: A Guide to Nonbinary and Genderqueer Identities
- Non-Binary Lives: An Anthology of Intersecting Identities
- In Their Shoes: Navigating Non-Binary Life
- Radiating Feminism: Resilience Practices to Transform our Inner and Outer Lives
- On sex and sexuality we recommend
- Sex, Sexuality and Therapeutic Practice: A Manual for Therapists and Trainers
- Out of the Shadows: The Psychology of Gay Men’s Lives
- Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
- We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir
- Purple Prose: Bisexuality in Britain
- How to Be Ace: A Memoir of Growing Up Asexual
- Can we talk about consent
- Becoming a Kink Aware Therapist
- On relationship diversity we recommend
“I dare to dream of a world where people can dress, speak and behave how they want, free from mockery, derision, judgement, harassment and danger. This is what I want. Who’s with me?” – Juno Dawson, author of The Gender Games
Websites and Articles
These organisations an individuals are worth following for their insightful articles and news on issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community.
- Pink News (website/Twitter/Facebook) are the world’s most read & watched LGBT+ digital media publisher. Follow them for articles on LGBTQ+ life and news. A recently posted article to start with is “What do the terms asexual and aromantic mean and what is the ‘asexual spectrum’?”
- Pink Therapy (website/Twitter/Facebook page/Private Facebook group for therapists) are the UK’s largest Independent Therapy organisation specialising in Gender, Sex & Relationship Diversities (GSRDs) – offering learning, peer support and a counselling directory. They have information pages and further learning recommendations on GSRD identities and experiences on their website.
- Gendered Intelligence (website/Twitter/Facebook) are the national trans-led charity, improving the lives of trans including non-binary people in the UK. They offer a network for therapists and counselling directory.
- Stonewall (website/Twitter/Facebook) – Stonewall are a charity supporting LGBTQ+ people in the UK. To get an insight into current lived experience read some of their reports including LGBT facts and figures, covering health and work amongst other areas, and LGBT in Britain – Hate Crime and Discrimination.
- Meg-John Barker (website/Twitter) – As mentioned, Meg-John is an expert on GSRD having authored several books and guidance documents. Follow their Twitter for articles, new podcast episodes, book updates and because their an all-round great person. You can read back through their blog here but this is a great post to start with – a Q&A on gender
- Karen Pollock (website/Twitter) – Karen is a counsellor with specialist LGBTQ/poly/kink training. They often share insights on GSRD awareness and acceptance, such as the post below, as well as blogposts. A recent one was called Whats love got to do with it? – an edited text of their workshop for Pink Therapies Non-Monogamy November strand.
- Chloe Foster (website/Twitter/Facebook) – Chloe is another great person to follow. She’s an LGBTQ Online Counsellor & Trainer, sharing resources such as her recent Free Top Tips Pronouns Guide and Do you know your LGBTQ History? – a whistlestop tour of key moments in LGBTQ+ history.
- Why I See a Black Queer Therapist – Steven Thrasher writes on his experiences in therapy. This quote is powerful and speaks volumes: “It can literally drive you crazy when your mental health care is ran by the people who are the reason you need mental health care.”
- Bisexuality, Biphobia and BiErasure – this article by Becki at Budding Therapy is well worth a read – considering the stigma and erasure of bi people.
“Generally people’s mental health improves a lot if they are able to find a gender expression and identity which feels congruent to them, especially if that is mirrored and supported by those around them.”
– Meg-John Barker
- Moonlight (watch a trailer) – This 2017 Oscar winning-drama is a stunningly shot and performed coming-of-age story with an African-American man’s journey through life, including his reckoning with his sexuality.
- Pride (watch a trailer) – This uplifting gem of a film is based on the true story of a group of lesbian and gay activists who came together to support those affected during the British miners’ strike in 1984.
- The Miseducation of Cameron Post (watch a trailer) – Chloe Moretz stars as a teenager Moretz plays a teenager sent to a gay conversion therapy centre by her parents.
- Boy Erased (watch a trailer) – This film based on Garrard Conley’s memoir tells his story of growing up the son of a Baptist pastor, being outed to his parents and entering conversion therapy in the hope of retaining his family and community relations.
You cut out what was once dear to you, ignore the ache in the back of your throat, erase the details you want to forget. – Garrard Conley in Boy Erased
While there is still some way to go thankfully these days there is much better LGBTQ+ representation in TV. Gay Times recently produced this list of 52 of the best LGBTQ+ shows you can watch right now on Netflix. These are a few programmes that we highly recommend.
- It’s a Sin (Channel 4) – Everyone is talking about this drama (it’s one of Channel 4’s biggest ever releases) and with good reason – it’s one of the most powerful pieces of television that will stay with you. From the creators of Queer as Folk, It’s A Sin focuses on a group of friends loving London life and being their authentic selves and, then, being hit by the AIDS crisis. The collective loss from this time was huge and we need to understand that.
- Hannah Gadsby: Nanette (Netflix) – This stand-up special by Australian comic Hannah Gadsby isn’t the kind of comedy you’ll expect – it’s funny but it’s also an incredibly emotionally powerful and moving personal story exploring gender, sexuality and trauma.
- RuPaul’s Drag Race UK (BBC) – We all need this joy-filled programme in our lives. As well as being a fun watch for all, you also get to know the contestants and how they identify. This recent conversation around being non-binary was moving and insightful.
“There’s an insidious, everyday homophobia, that’s so entrenched within us and within our society. I think it’s drummed into us from the TV shows we watched, the newspapers we read, the books you read, the culture we live in, and it adds together to make homophobia a thing that’s almost invisible. It’s still there. It’s been a journey just for myself to accept within myself who I am.” – Olly Alexander
- Disclosure (Netflix – watch a trailer) – Laverne Cox produces this powerful documentary featuring interviews with leading trans creatives and thinkers about Hollywood’s impact on the trans community.
- Lily: A Transgender Story (BBC iPlayer – watch a trailer) – Following Lily over 5 years as she transitions.
- Leo: Becoming a Trans Man (BBC iPlayer) – Following young Leo’s transition journey.
- Olly Alexander: Growing up Gay (BBC iPlayer – watch a trailer) – Produced in 2017, It’s A Sin and Years and Years star Olly Alexander explores mental health issues experienced by those who are LGBTQ+.
- The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson (Netflix – watch a trailer) Activist Victoria Cruz tackles the violence against trans women, and the trauma this causes. She explores the death of her friend Marsha P. Johnson – a gender-nonconforming gay liberation activist who had a prominent role in the 1969 Stonewall uprising.
- All in my Family (Netflix – watch a trailer) – This is filmmaker Hao Wu’s story telling his experience of adopting a baby with his husband, while navigating disapproval from his family in China.
“The ways in which trans people have been represented have suggested that we’re mentally ill, that we don’t exist. And yet here we are, and we’ve always been here.” – Laverne Cox
The great thing about YouTube is that, generally, there aren’t the gatekeepers that there are in mainstream media – LGBTQ+ individuals get to share their experiences and stories, or just general content, on their own terms. There are also some organisations doing a great job of platforming diverse voices to speak on GSRD. Here are just a few examples of the great videos that are out there.
- Get a glimpse of Meg-John Barker’s training style ahead of their GSRD CPD day for us via their 20-minute talk for Pink Therapy Bisexuality and mental health or their TEDx talk Rewriting the Rules.
- BBC Three’s YouTube channel series on Things Not To Say To… a non-binary person, a trans person, gay people, a bisexual person, people who don’t have sex, a sex worker
- There is a whole section on the TED Talks site with talks by LGBTQ+ speakers. A few examples include How to talk (and listen) to transgender people, The importance of using inclusive language and The danger of hiding who you are.
- This short 4-minute film HEADSPACE. Transgender daily struggles gives a rare insight into the day-to-day challenges when you’re trans.
- Philosophy Tube’s Identity: A Trans Coming Out Story (40 minutes)
- 5 Asexual People Explain What “Asexual” Means To Them – Tinder
- BFI at Home | It’s A Sin Q&A with Russell T Davies, creators & cast
Access these podcasts exploring GSRD from wherever you get your podcasts, or click their links below to listen via their websites.
- Meg-John and Justin – Meg-John Barker and Justin Hancock discuss sex and relationships, exploring various facets of GSRD, mental health and self-care.
- What the Trans – This weekly podcast is made by and for transgender and non-binary people, featuring news, interviews and fact checks of the latest stories affecting the trans community. They raise voices from the community and “top it all off with a generous helping of snark”.
- The GenderGP Podcast – GenderGP founder Dr Helen Webberley and Lead Therapist Marianne Oakes are joined by a range of inspiring guests to discuss issues affecting the trans community. Also, check out their list of 10 of the Best Trans and Non Binary Podcasts for more suggestions.
- Homo Sapiens – Hosted by singer and actor Will Young and film director Chris Sweeney, this is a lovely listen with frank conversations around life and a lot of laughs too. Will described the podcast as “queer Woman’s Hour”.
- Living in This Queer Body Created by a psychotherapist, this podcast explores “the barriers to embodiment and how our collective body stories can bring us back to ourselves”.
- Making Gay History – To understand our present we need to understand our past, and this podcast does a great job of bringing history to life through intimate conversations with “champions, heroes, and witnesses” to key moments.
- History is Gay – Staying with history, this podcast takes us further back into the past “sharing stories of those of us in the unexplored corners of history who have always been there”.
- Busy Being Black – Busy Being Black is “a growing compendium of queer Black voices, an oral history project and conversations with those who have learned – and are learning – to thrive at the intersections of their identities”.
- Rose and Rosie: Parental Guidance Follows comedy duo and married couple Rose and Rosie’s as they navigate life trying to start a family.
Charities and organisations to support and signpost to
These charities provide vital support to those who are LGBTQ+ regardless of the issues they are struggling with. It can also be helpful to research local support services such as
Brighton & Hove LGBT Switchboard.
These organisations can help explore concerns and signpost to further support where needed. For any clients with gender dysphoria, they can also be seen in the NHS and further information on how to access this support is available here.
- MindOut – a Mental Health Charity for the LGBTQ+ community providing support to individuals and campaigning around related issues.
- Switchboard provides an information, support and referral service for anyone who needs to consider issues around their sexuality. Phone: 0300 330 0630 (10am-10pm)
- LGBT Foundation offers a range of services, support and information to lesbian, gay, bi and trans people. Phone: 0345 3 30 30 30 (Daily 10am-10pm)
- Stonewall offers support and advice for LGBT people on a range of subjects.
- LGBT+ Hate Crime Helpline is open daily, Monday – Friday 10am-4pm offering support to anyone who has experienced anti-LGBT+ violence, abuse, or harassment. Call 020 77042040 or email HateCrime@galop.org.uk
- Mermaids have been helping gender-diverse kids, young people and their families since 1995.
- Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays offers support to parents, families and friends during the ‘coming out’ process.
- LGBT Domestic Violence Helpline Monday to Friday 10am – 4pm: 0300 999 5428 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Queer Menopause Resources to help support those going through menopause, and other health related issues, who identify as LGBTQIA+.
While a lot of research has gone into this resource, inevitably there will be things we’ve missed. We’ll keep adding to this over time but if you’d like to suggest an addition please do let us know. And if you’ve found this blogpost helpful sharing with your peers and colleagues so they can increase their learning is appreciated.
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