Being part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, collectively referred to as the LGBT community, can be a proud and empowering fact. Around 91 percent of LGBT members are not ashamed to be part of this community.
However, being part of the LGBT community can be very difficult at times due to the intense societal discrimination that they sometimes face. These difficulties can have an adverse impact on their mental well-being, and indeed they are more prone to psychological disorders such as anxiety and depression. This article seeks to quantify the incidence of stress and depression in the LGBT community, identifies factors that contribute to this phenomenon, and suggests ways to counteract it.
Manifestations Of Stress And Depression
The incidence of stress and depression can be very high for the LGBT, with an incidence rate of around 30 to 60 percent that is 1.5 to 2.5 higher than that of non-LGBT members. The amount of stress that they receive can be enormous, and they are exposed to it whether they go.
Around 37% of LGBT feel unsafe at school due to their gender expression, 55% have experienced verbal harassment, and 11% became the target of the physical assault. Meanwhile, LGBT members are frequently also targeted even by family members. There are severe cases that their own family kicked them out of the house. Evidence of this is the fact that around 40$ of homeless youth identify as part of the LGBT community.
Around 70% of the LGBT experience feelings of worthlessness, while approximately 95% have sleep problems due to stress. The amount of pressure they receive can damage their mental health, making them prone to more disorders. They have a higher incidence of drug use, risky behavior such as drunk driving, and suicide. As will be shown later, several factors contribute to the vulnerability of LGBT members to mental health disorders such as stress and depression.
Stressors For The LGBT
We all live in a heteronormative world. Most people still treat homosexuality as deviance from normal behavior instead of just a regular occurrence. Hence, many LGBT members feel that they are not normal or that there is something wrong with them. Also, many of them are still afraid to embrace their gender expression or sexual orientation.
They may also be afraid of how others would react if they come out. These fears are not unjustified given that the incidence of LGBT-targeted violence and isolation is common. In summary, they are experience confusion between expressing themselves and protecting themselves from the world. This mental tension can cause their mental health to suffer.
Providing Adequate Mental Healthcare
However, all is not lost in ensuring that LGBT members receive adequate mental health care. LGBT members can be protected from mental health disorders. This is especially true if they have a good support system. They need a loving family and caring friends that will accept them fully and without judgment. They can also be provided a safe space to protect them from mentally damaging discrimination.
Social interaction with LGBT members can help forge their sense of identity and increase their confidence, knowing that they are with kindred souls. Finally, enabling easy access to professional mental health care providers can help them seek out therapy and counseling when they need it the most.
Mental health counselors probably have encountered a lot of heartbreaking stories from LGBT patients. And these stories are due to homophobia and heterosexualism. Many of the LGBT would feel different merely because they are not heterosexuals. They want to speak out but are afraid to do it.
The LGBT community, more commonly known as the gay community, is a group that pertains to the gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexuals who have come together as an organization bound together by a common culture. These communities are comprised individuals who practice freedom by celebrating gay pride, individualism, and diversity through rallies, parades, and campaigns.
Gay villages, LGBT conformist groups, gay student organizations and LGBT rights groups are considered part of the LGBT community, although not all LGBT individuals are not active participants and do not consider themselves a part of this community.
Like most men and women, there are also distinct LGBT individuals around the world who have made a difference one way or another. They have not only become famous for their unique appearances and personalities but also because of their ability to fight for their rights and excel in their careers of their current positions.
Here are some of the LGBT individuals/conformists/activists who have ignited change and made a name for themselves.
Ellen DeGeneres. Before she became the rich and famous TV show host that she is today, Ellen was ridiculed and lost her advertisements when she went public about her sexuality. In an interview a few years ago, she said she was so afraid to come out and let the world know that she was a lesbian, but she did – and in no less than her TV show!
Lynn Conway. Lynn Conway was an important property of IBM until she came out and spoke of her desire to become a female. IBM immediately fired her, a clearly biased move, which encouraged Conway to seek the help and support of the Board of Directors of the world’s biggest engineering professional society, the Institution of Electrical And Electronic Engineers. Her action was successful.
In 2014 a code of regulations and protections for transgender individuals was established. Conway was then included among the top transgender individuals who influenced the American culture by Time Magazine.
Laverne Cox. One of the stars in the popular series Orange is the New Black, Laverne continues her advocacy for the trans community, speaking about lesbians and gays around the world and how they are special and beautiful, just like everyone else.
Richard Isay. One of the headstrong and fierce gay activists in his time, Richard is remembered for charging a lawsuit against the American Psychoanalytic Association for discriminating LGBT individuals. After the deliberation, the association soon allowed lesbians and gays to train as analysts and in 1997 expressed its support for gay marriage.
Harvey Milk. The LGBT’s gay rights icon, Harvey was a politician and the first openly gay Mayor in San Francisco, California. He was also a visionary and a human rights activist. His battle for equal rights was short-lived, however, as he was assassinated a year after being elected. Various books and movies have been made about him, one being titled after his surname, “Milk,” which starred Sean Penn.
Janet Mock. Mock is a trans woman, an LGBT activist and a bestselling writer. She is an advocate for equal rights of transgender individuals, especially black trans women. Her book “Redefining Realness” topped the New York Times at no. 19, and she continues to shine as an editor at Marie Claire, where it all started for her in 2011.
Although most countries have embraced the transgender community as part of their own, LGBT individuals still suffer from bullying and discrimination, leading to a large majority of them to experience depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. BetterHelp is a reliable website to find more information about mental illnesses. The stigma is undeniably still present but continues to fade as they make beautiful noise in their career and their personal lives.
What I am or have hasn’t been clinically defined. Some say that I’m simply shy or an introvert. I sometimes feel like what I have is a disease, like there is something in my brain that prevents me from thoroughly enjoying another’s presence.
After the worldwide recognition of the LGBT community where most of the country considered them part of the minority, they have been more vocal about their relationship with same sex. This allowed them to express themselves and be open about their intimate relationship towards their other half. However, issues arise with regard to the healthcare problems especially on the act of sexual intercourse.
Impact on health and wellbeing
The World Health Organizations has always been adamant about having a sexual relationship with same sex. Ever since the rampant cases of AIDS and HIV came to their concern, they publicly announce the dangers of having unsanitized sexual intercourse. There have been reported cases that between 70% and 78% of gays had an STD and it is still growing in numbers up until today.
While monogamy among gay men is present in the community of LGBT, the potential infection can occur in acts such as oral sex, rectal sex, fecal sex, and urine sex. This can greatly increase the risk of medical consequences that often times associated with deaths. The list of sexual practices leads to numerous physical injuries and spread a higher risk of sexually transmitted diseases. It is reported that a huge percentage of the LGBT group is active on sexual acts and almost 80% of gays (mostly men) are recorded to have different sexual partners.
It is well recognized that homosexuals are engaged in more destructive activities which somehow backed up a study that they usually die young and lose 20 years of life expectancy. In line with mental health issues, a Dutch study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry found a high rate of psychiatric disease associated with same-sex sex. Several studies suggest that gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals appear to have higher rates of some mental disorders caused by emotional stress from rejection, depression, discrimination, and abuse.
The Oral-Anal Contact
One of the most common sexual acts that most gay men practice is oral-anal contact. Certain studies show that 90% of gay men have engaged in regular rectal intercourse. It gives an extremely high rate of parasitic and other intestinal infections due to the mixture of lubricant, saliva, and germs that is considered direct substances of infectious diseases. Apart from that, the internal bruising or tearing of the anal wall is very common during anal or penile sex which can also lead to a fast spread of bacteria such as Salmonellosis, Neisseria meningitides, Shigellosis, Pediculosis, scabies, Campylobacter, and etc.
The community is aware of the rampant cases of HIVs, STDs, and even AIDS. As far as the World Health Organization is concerned, parts of the LGBT community still have the freedom to express their rights to a marital union (in some countries) and allow them to experience intimate and sexual bond. Though it is frequently addressed as ‘inappropriate,’ the awareness of lesbian, gays, and bisexual sexual intercourse are put into consideration.
The Societal expectation of the LGBT community has arisen for more than a decade, and their fight against equality has always been their top priority. Though there might have been some enlightenment on their side of the issue and the world is now accepting them than it was years ago, there are still facts and figures around the world that doesn’t support their advocacies. In most cases, it happens to be the reason why coming out is an unfathomable struggle.
Intersectionality: An Overview
Intersectionality is most simply defined as the overlap of minority identities. For example, a woman who is both African American and bisexual would be a part of three different minority groups: gender (as a woman), race (as a woman of color), and sexuality (as a part of the LGBTQ+ community). The combination of different identities drastically increases an individual’s likelihood of discrimination, marginalization, and harassment.
Particularly in the LGBTQ+ community, people of color and individuals who identify as a woman are much more susceptible to oppression than the rest of the community. This is because of the oppression combined with being a part of more than one marginalized demographic.
LGBTQ+ Celebrity Activists
One of the biggest issues in the modern LGBTQ+ community is the lack of representation in the media. Thankfully, many different LGBTQ+ individuals have become BIG in the public eye, and many have used their fame to bring attention, awareness, and support to the community. Especially in the last ten to fifteen years, LGBTQ+ actors, singers, leaders, and activists, in general, have made their way into the media, which really helps the community to have a voice and the proper representation.
Continued Marginalization: Societal Expectations
Although the LGBTQ+ community has made tremendous strides in the fight for equal rights in the last decade, there is still quite a long way to go. Gay marriage was legalized by the Supreme Court through the Equality Act in 2015, which was a huge step for LGBTQ+ couples. However, members of the LGBTQ+ community are still being discriminated against and oppressed on a daily basis. There are people who are purposely cruel and belittling to LGBTQ+, but there are also a lot of cultural and societal norms that contribute to the discrimination of and stigma surrounding the community.
One of the most common societal norms that are prevalent in our culture is heteronormativity. Heteronormativity is best defined as the general assumption that everyone is heterosexual, or straight. This has been produced by the mindset that being straight is “normal”, while any other sexuality is strange or unfamiliar. These messages are supported by the media. There are rarely LGBTQ+ individuals portrayed in movies, television shows, commercials, and other mass media. Representation has gotten better, but it’s not always accurate or shown in a positive manner. (more…)
Being Transgender: The Basics
Identifying as transgender doesn’t necessarily mean that you would like to have or have had some kind of sex change. Quite simply, transgender is a collective term for anyone who identifies as a gender that doesn’t match the sex that they were assigned when they were born. This broader term is much more inclusive to all individuals who have decided that the sex they were born with doesn’t match how they feel, which includes quite a lot of different identities.