Advertisement

Shifting Sands or Solid Foundation? Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Identity Formation

  • Michele J. Eliason
  • Robert Schope

Abstract

How do some individuals come to identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender? Is there a static, universal process of identity formation that crosses all lines of individual difference, such as sexual identities, sex/gender, class, race/ethnicity, and age? If so, can we describe that process in a series of linear stages or steps? Is identity based on a rock-solid foundation, stable and consistent over time? Or are there many identity formation processes that are specific to social and historical factors and/or individual differences, an ever-shifting landscape like a sand dune? The field of lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender (LGBT) studies is characterized by competing paradigms expressed in various ways: nature versus nurture, biology versus environment, and essentialism versus social constructionism (Eliason, 1996b). Although subtly different, all three debates share common features. Nature, biology, and essentialistic paradigms propose that sexual and gender identities are “real,” based in biology or very early life experiences and fixed and stable throughout the life span. These paradigms allow for the development of linear stages of development, or “coming out,” models.

Keywords

Gender Identity Sexual Minority Sexual Identity Identity Formation Bisexual Woman 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Alonso, A.M., and Koreck, M.T. (1993) Silences: “Hispanics,” AIDS, and sexual practices. In: Abelove, H., Barale, M., and Halperin, D.M. (eds) The lesbian and gay studies reader. Routledge, New York, pp. 110–126.Google Scholar
  2. Altman, D. (1971) Homosexual: oppression and liberation. E.P. Dutton, New York.Google Scholar
  3. Archer, B. (2002) The end of gay and the death of heterosexuality. Fusion Press, London.Google Scholar
  4. Beemyn, B., and Eliason, M. (1996) Queer studies: a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender anthology. New York University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  5. Blumenfeld, W. (1992) Squeezed into gender envelopes. In: Blumenfeld, W. (ed) Homophobia: how we all pay the price. Beacon Press, Boston, pp. 23–38.Google Scholar
  6. Bornstein, K. (1994) Gender outlaw: on men, women, and the rest of us. Routledge, New York.Google Scholar
  7. Brooks, V. (1981) Minority stress and lesbian women. Lexington Books, Lexington, MA.Google Scholar
  8. Cass, V. (1979) Homosexual identity formation: a theoretical model. Journal of Homosexuality 4:219–235.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cass, V. (1984) Homosexual identity formation: testing a theoretical model. Journal of Sex Research 20(2):143–167.Google Scholar
  10. Cass, V. (1990) The implications of homosexual identity formation for the Kinsey model and scale of sexual preference. In: Saunders, S., and Reinisch, J. (eds) Homosexuality/heterosexuality: concepts of sexual orientation. Oxford University Press, New York, pp. 239–266.Google Scholar
  11. Cass, V. (1996) Sexual orientation identity formation: a Western phenomenon. Journal of Homosexuality 9(2/3):227–251.Google Scholar
  12. Chan, C.S. (1989) Issues of identity development among Asian-American lesbians and gay men. Journal of Counseling and Development 68:16–20.Google Scholar
  13. Chapman, B., and Brannock, J. (1987) Proposed model of lesbian identity development: an empirical examination. Journal of Homosexuality 14(3/4):69–80.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Coleman, E. (1982) Developmental stages of the coming-out process. In: Paul, W., Weinrich, J.D., Gonsiorek, J.C., and Hotvedt, M.E. (eds) Homosexuality: social, psychological and biological issues. Sage Publications, Beverly Hills, CA, pp. 149–158.Google Scholar
  15. Coleman, E., Bockting, W., and Gooren, L. (1993) Homosexual and bisexual identity in sex-reassigned female to male transsexuals. Archives of Sexual Behavior 22(1):37–50.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Conerly, G. (1996) The politics of black lesbian, gay, and bisexual identity. In: Beemyn, B., and Eliason, M. (eds) Queer studies: a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender anthology. NYU Press, New York, pp. 133–145.Google Scholar
  17. Cox, S., and Gallois, C. (1996) Gay and lesbian identity development: a social identity perspective. Journal of Homosexuality 30(4):1–30.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Cross, W. (1991) Shades of black: diversity of African-American identity. Temple University Press, Philadelphia.Google Scholar
  19. DeCecco, J.P., and Shively, M.G. (1984) From sexual identity to sexual relationships: A contextual shift. Journal of Homosexuality 9(2/3):1–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Devor, H. (1997) FTM: female-to-male transsexuals in society. Indiana University Press, Bloomington, IN.Google Scholar
  21. Devor, A.H. (2002) Who are “We?” Where sexual orientation meets gender identity. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Psychotherapy 6(2):5–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Devor, A.H. (2004) Witnessing and mirroring: a fourteen stage model of transsexual identity formation. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatry 8(1/2):41–67.Google Scholar
  23. Devor, H. (1993) Toward a taxonomy of gendered sexuality. Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality 6(1):23–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Dube, E.M., and Savin-Williams, R. (1999) Sexual identity development among ethnic sexual-minority male youth. Developmental Psychology 35(6):1389–1398.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Eliason, M.J. (1996a) An inclusive model of lesbian identity. Journal of Gay Lesbian and Bisexual Identity 1(1):3–19.Google Scholar
  26. Eliason, M.J. (1996b) Identity formation for lesbian, bisexual, and gay persons: beyond a minoritizing view. Journal of Homosexuality 30(3):35–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Eliason, M.J., and Morgan, K. (1998) Lesbians define themselves: diversity in lesbian identification. Journal of Gay Lesbian and Bisexual Identities 3(1):47–63.Google Scholar
  28. Eliason, M.J., and Schope, R. (2001) Does “don’t ask, don’t tell” apply to health care? Lesbian, gay, and bisexual people’s disclosure to health care providers. Journal of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association 5(4):125–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Espin, O. (1987) Issues of identity in the psychology of Latina lesbians: explorations and challenges. In: Boston Lesbian Psychology Collective (eds) Lesbian psychologies. University of Illinois Press, Urbana, pp. 35–51.Google Scholar
  30. Esterberg, K.G. (1997) Lesbian and bisexual identities: constructing communities, constructing selves. Temple University Press, Philadelphia.Google Scholar
  31. Faderman, L. (1984) The “new gay” lesbians. Journal of Homosexuality 10(3/4):65–75.Google Scholar
  32. Fassinger, R.E., and Miller, B.A. (1996) Validation of an inclusive model of sexual minority formation on a sample of gay men. Journal of Homosexuality 32(2):53–78.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Fox, R.C. (1995) Bisexual identities. In: D’Augelli, A.R., and Patterson, C.J. (eds) Lesbian, gay, and bisexual identities over the lifespan: psychological perspectives. Oxford University Press, New York, pp. 48–86.Google Scholar
  34. Fuss, D. (1991) Inside/out: lesbian theories, gay theories. Routledge, New York.Google Scholar
  35. Goffman, E. (1963) Stigma: notes on the management of spoiled identity. Simon & Schuster, New York.Google Scholar
  36. Grossman, A.H. (1997) The virtual and actual identities of older lesbians and gay men. In: Duberman, M. (ed) A queer world: the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies reader. NYU Press, New York, pp. 615–626.Google Scholar
  37. Horowitz, J.L., and Newcomb, M.D. (2001) A multidimensional approach to homosexual identity. Journal of Homosexuality 42(2):1–19.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Isaacs, G., and McKendrick, B. (1992) Male homosexuality in South Africa: identity formation, culture, and crisis. Oxford University Press, Capetown.Google Scholar
  39. Jacobs, S.E., Thomas, W., and Lang, S. (1997) Two-spirit people: Native American gender identity, sexuality, and spirituality. University of Illinois Press, Urbana.Google Scholar
  40. Kitzinger, C. (1987) The social construction of lesbianism. Sage, London.Google Scholar
  41. Lee, J.Y. (1996) Why Suzie Wong is not a lesbian: Asian and Asian American lesbian and bisexual women and femme/butch gender identities. In: Beemyn, B., and Eliason, M. (eds) Queer studies: a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender anthology. NYU Press, New York, pp. 115–132.Google Scholar
  42. Levitt, H. (2003) The misunderstood gender: A model of modern femme identity. Sex Roles 48(3/4):99–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Loiacano, D.K. (1989) Gay identity issues among black Americans: racism, homophobia, and the need for validation. Journal of Counseling and Development 68:21–25.Google Scholar
  44. Marcia, J. (1987) Identity in adolescence. In: Adelson, J. (ed) Handbook of adolescent psychology. Wiley, New York.Google Scholar
  45. McCarn, S.R., and Fassinger, R.E. (1996) Re-visioning sexual minority identity formation: a new model of lesbian identity and its implications for counseling and research. The Counseling Psychologist 24(3):508–534.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. McIntosh, M. (1968) The homosexual role. Social Problems 16:182–193.Google Scholar
  47. Minton, H.L., and McDonald, G.J. (1984) Homosexual identity formation as a developmental process. Journal of Homosexuality 8(1):47–60.Google Scholar
  48. Morales, E.S. (1989) Ethnic minority families and minority gays and lesbians. Journal of Homosexuality 17:217–239.Google Scholar
  49. Nuttbrock, L., Rosenblum, A., and Blumenstein, R. (2002) Transgender identity affirmation and mental health. International Journal of Transgenderism 6(4).Google Scholar
  50. Plummer, K. (1975) Sexual stigma: an interactionist account. Routledge & Kegan Paul, Boston.Google Scholar
  51. Ponse, B. (1978) Identities in the lesbian world: the social construction of self. Greenwood Press, London.Google Scholar
  52. Reynolds, A.I., and Pope, R.L. (1991) The complexities of diversity: exploring multiple oppressions. Journal of Counseling and Development 70:174–180.Google Scholar
  53. Ringo, P. (2002) Media roles in female-to-male transsexual and transgender identities. International Journal of Transgenderism 6(3).Google Scholar
  54. Rosario, M., Schrimshaw, E.W., and Hunter, J. (2004) Ethnic/racial differences in the coming-out process of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths: a comparison of sexual identity development over time. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology 10(3):215–228.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Rosenfeld, D. (1999) Identity work among lesbian and gay elderly. Journal of Aging Studies 13(2):121–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Rust, P. (1993) Coming out in the age of social constructionism: sexual identity formation among lesbian and bisexual women. Gender and Society 7:50–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Rust, P. (1996a) Managing multiple identities: diversity among bisexual women and men. In: Firestein, B. (ed) Bisexuality: the psychology and politics of an invisible minority. Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA, pp. 53–83.Google Scholar
  58. Rust, P. (1996b) Sexual identity and bisexual identities: the struggles for self-description in a changing landscape. In: Beemyn, B., and Eliason, M. (eds) Queer studies: a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender anthology. NYU Press, New York, pp. 64–86.Google Scholar
  59. Schope, R.D. (2002) The decision to tell: factors influencing the disclosure of sexual orientation by gay men. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services 14(1):1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Schope, R.D. (2004) Practitioners need to ask: culturally competent practice requires knowing where the gay male client is in the coming out process. Smith College Studies in Social Work 74(2):257–270.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Siegel, S., and Lowe, R., Jr. (1994) Uncharted lives: understanding the life passages of gay men. Dutton, New York.Google Scholar
  62. Sophie, J. (1985/1986) A critical examination of stage theories of lesbian identity development. Journal of Homosexuality 12:39–51.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Swann, S.D., and Anastas, J.W. (2003) Dimensions of lesbian identity during adolescence and young adulthood. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services 15(1/2):109–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Taywaditep, K.J. (2001) Marginalization among the marginalized: gay men’s anti-effeminacy attitudes. Journal of Homosexuality 42(1):1–28.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Troiden, R. (1988) Gay and lesbian identity: a sociological analysis. General Hall, Dix Hills, NY.Google Scholar
  66. Troiden, R. (1989) The formation of homosexual identities. Journal of Homosexuality 17:43–73.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Wells, J., and Kline, W. (1987) Self-disclosure of homosexual orientation. Journal of Social Psychology 127(2):191–197.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Whisman, V. (1996) Queer by choice: lesbians, gay men, and the politics of identity. Routledge, New York.Google Scholar
  69. Yarhouse, M.A. (2001) Sexual identity development: the influence of valuative frameworks on identity synthesis. Psychotherapy 38(3):331–341.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michele J. Eliason
    • 1
  • Robert Schope
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute for Health and AgingUniversity of California-San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Social WorkThe University of Wisconsin OshkoshOshkoshUSA

Personalised recommendations