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Sunday, March 8 • 8:30am - 9:45am
Sexual Minority Female Identity Across the Life Span

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The experience of sexual identity for females no longer represents a strict adherence to a static course of development (Diamond, 2008). Thompson & Morgan (2008) reported that 42% of their female sample expressed a degree of sexual identity uncertainty and label difficulty. This point has become contentious as many are pushing away from the oppressive nature of the gender and sexual binaries (Iantaffi & Bockting, 2011). Method This study utilized a qualitative research method to explore the differences in the ways three generations of sexual minority females viewed the process of sexual identity labels, development, and gender identity. Eighteen participants (13 cisgender, 4 transgender, and 1 agender/gender non-conforming), ranging in ages from 20 to 67 years old, completed a semi-structured interview. Preliminary Results Currently, data has undergone open and comparative-coding procedures utilized in the grounded theory method (Charmaz, 2006). Two teams of graduate students have assisted in the coding process. While data is currently undergoing analysis, this project will be complete by the March conference. At this time, a number of themes have emerged. First, struggling to define and express an authentic identity is the strongest theme. Participants noted how labels that represent the gender binary and restrictive notions of sexuality did not fit their sense of self. Second, negative perception and rejection within the LGBTQ community. Third, participants discussed the importance of feminism on both their sexual and gender identities. Many participants in the oldest generation reported involvement in feminist organizations, culminating in a fusion between feminism and sexual identity. In younger generations, feminist ideals pervade struggles for representation and equality. Discussion It is expected that themes representing an intersection of sexual and gender identities will emerge. Such findings will further an understanding of female sexual identity that is fluid and requires greater social protection to achieve equal standing.

Sunday March 8, 2015 8:30am - 9:45am