What is IDAHOBIT and why is it important to the people of the LGBTIAQ+ community?
To answer that lets first look at what it is. IDAHOBIT stands for International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersex-phobia, Transphobia. It's important because it’s one day that the whole world stands up and says it’s not ok to discriminate against people based on their sexual preference or their gender non-conformances.
Let’s break this down a little bit though. What are these phobias and why is it important we stand up against them?
According to Harvard Health, a phobia is an unrealistic fear. So, when that is applied to Homosexuals, Bisexuals, Intersex and Trans people it basically translates to an unrealistic fear of Homosexual, Bisexual, Intersex and Trans people. Most people have either witnessed or experienced this fear/phobia expressed through hatred. Its visible in countries where anything outside the heterosexual experience is illegal. It’s also visible in countries where these things aren’t illegal but people who live outside the heterosexual experience are still subjected to violence, verbal abuse, hate speech and more.
What a lot of people aren’t aware of however is the other types of homo/bi/trans/intersex-phobia. This is because these types of prejudice are more subtle and more pervasive as well. Subtle phobias against these people are expressed often in little ways, with intent but also often without intent. The two main ways phobias are expressed subtly are through what’s known as heteronormative behaviour and microaggressions.
Heteronormative behaviour is basically when people behave as though heterosexuality and heterosexual experiences are the norm and should be treated with preference or priority over other people’s experiences. This behaviour places pressure and coercion on non-heteronormative people to disguise or repress their true self as well as other long-term effects that will be discussed further in this blog. Microaggressions are exactly that, instead of openly stating prejudice microaggressions are little statements frequently directed toward someone that is gay/bi/trans/intersex. They often may not seem phobic at first but when you look at their meaning it becomes obvious the statement was made to make someone feel uncomfortable.
The big problem with heteronormative behaviour and microaggressions is that a lot of the time people don’t always realise they are being phobic. There are two reasons for this, the main one being that because society has been built around the heterosexual experience and heteronormative behaviours are hardwired into most people so they don’t question whether these behaviours could be hurtful. The other reason brings us directly to the third form of phobia and probably the most damaging of them all, Internalised phobia.
Internalised Homo/Bi/Trans/Intersex-phobia is a product of the constant prejudice that people from the non-heteronormative community face. Internalised phobia is the fear and prejudice non-heteronormative community members direct at each other and themselves, and therefore it can be extremely damaging. LGBTIAQ+ people learn this behaviour as they grow. Identity formation forces us to accept our own identities however many of us are still hardwired with heteronormative scripts that direct us to hate and fear others who do not fit those scripts and, in some cases, even ourselves.
This is the reason why it is so important to stand up against these types of phobias. It is these types of phobias that teach children to hate themselves and each other. Fear and hatred that is then carried into adult life and manifests as mental health problems. It is a well-established fact that non-heteronormative people experience much higher rates of poor mental health and mental health related issues than heteronormative people. In a research paper by Strauss et al., as many as 31% of young trans people experience suicidal ideation and as many as 17.2% attempt suicide. In a study by Lae et al., where young gay/bisexual men and women were interviewed, 5.1% of the young women who were interview reported suicidal ideation and 1.7% of the men reported suicidal ideation.
Suicidal ideation and attempts are just two of the many mental health issues within the community due to homo/bi/intersex/transphobia. The reason I didn’t list more is because the list of mental health issues within the LGBTIAQ+ community due to the previously mentioned phobias is extensive and the numbers are not small. It all amounts to the same thing and that is that these phobias are damaging not only to the LGBTIAQ+ community but the wider community in general. This is because every LGBTIAQ+ person is someone’s child, someone’s parent and someone’s extended family or friends. We are your co-workers, your employees, and your employers. We might be your grocer, your baker, your banker, or your doctor.
So, this Tuesday 17th May and all week you can show your support for the LBGTIAQ+ and stand up against Homo/Bi/Intersex/Transphobia by wearing purple the international colour for IDAHOBIT. You can also visit the website at the link provided below.
Here at Rowan Tree Counselling, we value your opinion so we would love to hear how you will be celebrating IDAHOBIT this week and what IDAHOBIT means to you. You can do this by either signing up to the webpage using the button below and leaving feedback in the feedback form or by heading over to our Facebook page and leaving a comment there.