May 17 was International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia. It marked the day in 1990 when the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. This global celebration of sexual and gender diversity was created to draw the attention of policymakers, opinion leaders, social movements, the public, and the media to the violence and discrimination experienced by LGBTQ+ people internationally.
The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia is not an isolated campaign, rather a movement where everyone can take action. This growing international movement is challenging the discrimination, harassment and exclusion experienced by LGBTQ+ people world-wide. This year, CSC’s Positive Space Committee would like to take the opportunity to talk about the effect that stigma can have on the LGBTQ+ community and to remind our colleagues that through our collective efforts, we can help make CSC a safe and welcoming place for everyone.
Although homosexuality is no longer considered a mental disorder, there has been increased recognition of the negative effects of stigma and discrimination related to sexual orientation and gender identity or expression on the mental well-being of sexual and gender minorities. This is often referred to as ‘minority stress’, a term used to describe the mental health consequences of stigmatisation, social exclusion, discrimination, and harassment of minority groups. Minority stress also expresses itself through self-stigma, whereby individuals subject to discrimination buy into the negative stereotypes associated with them, negatively impacting self-acceptance, self-perception, self-efficacy, self-esteem, and self-confidence.
For gender identity, the stigma is even more complicated. Globally, most medical professionals still consider trans identities to be linked to mental disorders. “Gender identity disorder” (GID) or equivalent mental health diagnoses are mandatory in almost all countries for trans people to access gender affirming treatment and diagnoses. Keeping this diagnosis within the mental health category contributes to the continuing stigmatization and social exclusion of trans people.
The goal of the Positive Space Committee is to assist in building an inclusive, respectful and welcoming work environment for all. The committee reflects this by recognizing and valuing the dignity, rights, and contributions of all employees. It is a peer-based education and support program designed to increase acceptance for and inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ+) people.