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J Homosex. 2009;56(8):1030-45. doi: 10.1080/00918360903275443.

Women's sexual identity patterns: differences among lesbians, bisexuals, and unlabeled women.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA.


To better understand women with same-sex attractions who do not identify as lesbian or bisexual (i.e., unlabeled women), we examined differences and similarities among self-designated lesbian, bisexual, and unlabeled women. Two hundred eight non-heterosexual women ranging in age from 18 to 69 years (85% identified as White) completed an online survey examining indicators of sexual orientation and beliefs and self-perceptions associated with sexual identity. Compared to lesbians, unlabeled women reported the weakest collective sexual identities and, along with bisexuals, they were less likely to view sexual orientation as fixed, being more focused on the "person, not the gender." Unlabeled women reported the greatest likelihood that their sexual identity would change in the future. These findings highlight the complexity of women's sexual identities and question the adequacy of categorical approaches.

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