International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia: May 17th

International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia

The goal of the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia is to raise awareness regarding the ways sexual orientation and gender variance are discriminated against and to strive for the ideal of a world in which everyone can freely choose their own sexual and gender identity.

In 2008, sexual relations between persons of the same sex were punishable by death in 7 countries and considered to be some form of crime in more than 80 others. In most countries in the world, people from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transexual, intersex, queer, … community are being denied their fundamental human rights as defined, inter alia, by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. –IDAHO committee

Homophobia and transphobia can have deadly consequences. Very recently in the United States there have been several  highly publicized examples of youth suicide spurred on by anti-gay harassment and bullying. Research has shown that lesbian, gay and bisexual adolescents attempt suicide at a rate three to six times that of comparably aged heterosexual youth. There is also increasing evidence that much of the self-harm behavior reported among gay youth is related to anti-gay stigma expressed through bullying, harassment and violence.  Further, studies show that children and adolescents whose appearance and personality traits do not conform to prescribed gender roles are often the target of anti-gay stigma, regardless of whether they consider themselves to be gay or lesbian.  Such harassment can lead to feelings of isolation and despair, which in turn can also contribute to suicidal behavior.

“I’m Proud to Be Gay” messages from around the world:

What can be done about this?  How can deeply ingrained prejudices regarding sexual orientation and gender be changed?

Have you experienced bullying, stigmatization due to your identity?

How have you reacted, coped?

Have you seen others bullied, harrassed? What have you done? What could you do?

For more information:

Oprah Winfrey Talks About Anti-Gay Bullying And Suicides

GLSEN Calls on Schools, Nation to Embrace Solutions to Bullying Problem

Anti-Bullying Resources

Kathleen Young, Psy.D.

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14 Responses to International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia: May 17th

  1. Sarah says:

    One of the single most important things that needs to happen overall in order to break down social stigmas is to start breaking past the need for classifications and see people as people. Someone who is born attracted to those of the same sex is no different than someone born attracted to the opposite sex just as someone who is born of Asian or African descent is no different – fundamentally – from someone who is born of European descent. While it’s true that there are cultural differences, fundamentally, no one person is more important or more flawed than another.

    My personal experience involves recognizing that I wasn’t straight but choosing abusive relationships because they were “safer” than being myself. My parents had really strong reactions when I came out, so I spent years hearing – from them – that the person I was wasn’t and would never be good enough; and that happened long after I had been diagnosed with anorexia.

    Flash forward to now and the fact that all of sudden, my parents have finally started to tell people that I’m gay and they haven’t been rejected and they’re able to look at things a bit more rationally. My mother has come around and finally even made statements of “if marriage is a religious institution and a sacrament and that’s the key argument, why does the government recognize marriages officiated by a judge or a justice of the peace.”

    Getting back on track, the key is recognizing that there are similarities. The key is recognizing that it’s the differences between us and others that allow us to learn and to grow.

    In terms of trauma and recovery, everyone whose shame holds them back has a great deal to learn from the GLBT community. In most states, anyone in the GLBT community can be denied housing or a job simply because of whom they love and the gender traits that they embrace. In many countries, simply loving someone of the same gender can lead to public lynchings and state sanctioned execution. But even in those countries, there are people who step forward and say “love does not make me wrong.”

    Is there shame? Yes. Are there struggles? Absolutely. Just this past week while starting a contract position that I’m hoping will lead to full-time job, I had to make the choice as to whether or not I’d “come out.” Not knowing anything about the company’s views initially, the reality is that just because I’ve said that my partner is also female, I may be looking for work again in a few weeks, but I wasn’t comfortable not being myself.

    Getting to that point is something that has taken a great deal of time and energy. We can look at the media now and see that there’s a lot of discussion about how far the GLBT community has come (and, for the record, it’s important to note that the community itself has it’s own tensions and discriminatory elements within it) and say it’s not so bad; but there’s a lot of awareness that still needs to come.

    Moving past the fear of what we may not understand or – often in the case of transphobia – what some people may not want to understand is critical. Until people take the opportunity to see that there are others who overcome their own sense of shame and live their lives openly, it’s going to be even harder for those who have experienced and internalized trauma to see that there is a path that’s already been forged to living a richer, fuller life – one that celebrates who a person is and not whom they love or what their bodies look like.

    • kyoungpsyd says:

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and experiences, Sarah!

      You said “My parents had really strong reactions when I came out, so I spent years hearing – from them – that the person I was wasn’t and would never be good enough”, very powerful words. This is exactly the kind of trauma many of my LGBT clients have encountered, whether from parents or friends or institutions. Being told that you, as you are, are flawed and unacceptable is deeply painful.

      I am glad to hear there has been movement and progress made on their part, for your sake.

      And yes, I understand that the ongoing “should I come out struggle” is also painful. To have to choose between the possible discrimination vs. living as your authentic self is not a choice anyone should have to face!

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  3. Lola says:

    I think awareness is important. I’m a lesbian and consider myself fairly well connected and I was not aware of “International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia”.

  4. KARON says:

    Viewing this video almost made me cry. I can really relate to this video as well as being ridiculed by “ignorant” people because of my sexual preference. I use the word “ignorant” not in a demeaning way but in the sense that most people are not educated about GLBT that “they” are as normal as everyone else. Granted, I feel that times have changed for the better for the GLBT community and hopefully it will continue to go in that direction but only time will tell. Being raised in a very old-fashioned, Filipino & Catholic family, there were two main things against me. I moved out of the house before I got married (you just don’t do that especially if you’re a female) and I was a lesbian. I didn’t come out to my parents until 1992 (my dad was 82yrs. old & my mom was 72yrs. old), and I only decided to tell my mom at that time because I knew both my parents were getting old and I didn’t want to stand at their graves telling them then. I felt they had a right to know about me before they died. I was so scared to tell my mom because I felt she was going to kill me (literally). After I did tell her and she cried (because I’m also the youngest and she hoped I’d marry a good man that would love & take care of me), I did go through several attempts to commit suicide because I hurt my parents and I was mad at myself. Sorry about jumping off track there. I just wanted to say that hopefully in time with Awareness Days and things of this nature, more people will love one another as we should. Just because you love someone the same sex as yourself does not mean a “death sentence”, it’s just human nature. Because pain is pain and it hurts. Time may go by and the physical scars may fade but the internal scars…they may never go away. There’s just too much hate, war, death and fundamental darkness in the world. Thanks for letting me share and comment.

    • kyoungpsyd says:


      Thank you for sharing in such a heart felt way! Yes, to be rejected because of who you are and how you love causes deep emotional scars.

      How courageous of you, to “come out” o your parents despite what they believed.

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