New research provides evidence that sexual identity changes tend to be associated with increased psychological distress among young women.
“There is a perception in our society that sexual orientation, and thus a person’s sexual identity (e.g., bisexual, lesbian, straight), sits inside them from the day they were born and does not change across their lives,” said study author Alice Campbell, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Queensland and author of the upcoming book “Sexual fluidity among millennial women: journeys across a shifting sexual landscape.”.
“I was interested in understanding this sexual fluidity – how many women change their sexual identity?
To investigate whether changes in sexual identity were linked to changes in psychological distress in young women, the researchers analyzed data from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health, a longitudinal study of more than 57,000 women in four age cohorts for over 20 years.
Women whose sexual identity changed in a more same-sex-oriented direction tended to report greater psychological distress compared to women whose sexual identity remained stable.
In contrast, women whose sexual identity changed in a less same-sex-oriented direction tended to report less psychological distress compared to women whose sexual identity remained stable.
“In this study I found that young women’s levels of psychological distress increased when they changed their identity away from the heterosexual norm, especially when they changed to a bisexual identity,” Campbell told PsyPost.
“A significant (and growing) minority of young women are exhibiting sexual fluidity, and changing between heterosexual, mostly heterosexual, bisexual, and other identities.
The study, “Sexual Fluidity and Psychological Distress: What Happens When Young Women’s Sexual Identities Change?“, was authored by Alice Campbell, Francisco Perales, Tonda L