Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgendered Department

Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other staff.


I think my sister, who is 20, is a lesbian. She's real athletic and likes to fix cars, and she gets teased about being gay, but she says she's not. She doesn't date anyone, guys or girls. What should I do?


This is a very good question. It addresses a common stereotype about lesbians, one that says all lesbians are butch and do things like fixing cars, things that many people think are masculine activities. While some lesbians are athletic and do like to fix cars, some are not athletic, and like to sew. In addition, some heterosexual and bisexual women are athletic, and some of them like to fix cars. In addition, some gay men like to sew and others like to fix cars. The same is true for heterosexual and bisexual men. It's important to remember that each individual is unique, with a unique set of interests. Assumptions and stereotypes interfere with seeing people as they really are.

Your sister may be bisexual, a lesbian, or heterosexual. I suggest you let her know you care about her and want to hear about her life and her interests, no matter what they are. Thanks for writing.


Author and psychologist Gail S. Bernstein, Ph.D. has a psychotherapy practice in Denver, Colorado. Dr. Bernstein speaks and writes about gay, lesbian and bisexual people for both general and professional audiences, and is the author of the new audiotape, NOT HETEROSEXUAL: An Educational Program About Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual People.


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