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OCD and your LGBTQIA+ identity

While OCD affects people from all walks of life, individuals within the LGBTQIA+ community may experience unique challenges related to their identity. OCD symptoms can intertwine with their journey of understanding and accepting their gender and sexuality. Obsessions may focus on concerns, such as "What if I’m not truly gay?" or "What if I'm not really the gender I identify as?" These experiences of doubt and uncertainty then lead to significant distress. Individuals then engage in compulsions like excessive checking, reassurance seeking, mental rituals to try neutralizing these concerns or ritualistic behaviors aimed at proving or disproving their identity.

Because OCD is so black and white, it feels as thought there is no room for doubt and there should be a 100% guarantee of absolute certainty. Any hint of doubt or ambiguity, feels unacceptable. This then goes against the natural and normal course and journey of sexual and gender identity development and exploration. An important component of working on sexual identify and gender identity OCD, focuses on honoring and giving space for each individual's journey of finding themselves and their identities. The gray areas within the journey can feel stressful when OCD is present, but this should not rush the journey!

It's crucial for mental health professionals to provide culturally competent care, recognizing the unique experiences and stressors faced by LGBTQIA+ individuals with OCD. Safe spaces where individuals can share their experiences without fear of judgment can help reduce the isolation that often accompanies both OCD and the challenges of being LGBTQIA+. Treatment should then focus on helping individuals recognize how OCD can get in their way, and better tolerate anxiety while eliminating compulsions. The goal is to increase the ability to have positive relationships, positive functioning and overall well-being, living a life that is most authentic and affirming of who they are.

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