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Women who adopt a lesbian identity share experiences that form an outlook similar to an ethnic identity: as homosexuals, they are unified by the heterosexist discrimination and potential rejection they face from their families, friends, and others as a result of homophobia. Lesbians may encounter distinct physical or mental health concerns arising from discrimination, prejudice, and minority stress.Political conditions and social attitudes also affect the formation of lesbian relationships and families in open.
Far less literature focused on female homosexual behavior than on male homosexuality, as medical professionals did not consider it a significant problem. However, sexologists Richard von Krafft-Ebing from Germany, and Britain's Havelock Ellis wrote some of the earliest and more enduring categorizations of female same-sex attraction, approaching it as a form of insanity.
Throughout history, women have not had the same freedom or independence to pursue homosexual relationships as men, but neither have they met the same harsh punishment as homosexual men in some societies.
Instead, lesbian relationships have often been regarded as harmless and incomparable to heterosexual ones unless the participants attempted to assert privileges traditionally enjoyed by men.
The term lesbian is also used to express sexual identity or sexual behavior regardless of sexual orientation, or as an adjective to characterize or associate nouns with female homosexuality or same-sex attraction.
The concept of "lesbian", to differentiate women with a shared sexual orientation, is a 20th-century construct.
The development of medical knowledge was a significant factor in further connotations of the term lesbian.