Though society slowly progresses and becomes more inclusive, the LGBTQIA community still faces challenges on a daily basis. It's not uncommon to hear or read stories of LGBTQIA members being discriminated against or attacked. This is one of many common LGBTQ challenges that every member must face.
We tend to forget that not every region in the world functions as our Western society. Members of the community in other countries may face prison and even death. For the sake of this article, though, we'll focus on the top LGBTQ struggles the community faces in Western society.
The LGBTQIA Community
As most people know, the community is formed by, but not limited to, queer, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and non-binary folks.
The collective sometimes adds a plus sign at the end. Why? Because one's sexuality and gender are different experiences for everyone. Remember it is a spectrum rather than defined, static categories.
What challenges do LGBTQ face?
1) Bullying and Harassment
We can't overlook this problem. Though many people believe that bullying someone because of their sexuality or gender is outdated and doesn't happen anymore, the stats prove them wrong. This is one of the very common and current LGBTQ struggles.
Two-thirds of LGBTQ students report having been sexually harassed, and 9 out of 10 queer students claim to have suffered bullying at some point. These are heartbreaking stats.
Unfortunately, the effects that bullying has on a person is often long-term. Many bullied students step into adulthood with low self-esteem, low self-confidence, and difficulty trusting others, among other consequences.
On the bright side, psychotherapy can help individuals recover from such traumatic events. While it can be challenging to find an inclusive therapist who understands you and what you've been through, don't let it discourage you from seeking help and support
Whether from one’s own family, friends, or society, rejection can deeply damage a person, both emotionally and psychologically. Unconditional love, openness and inclusivity are not always present or taught in childhood, therefore, family dynamics and norms often lead to prejudice towards the LGBTQIA community. Rejection is more often than not, taught at home.
Every human has the basic need for a sense of belonging. Humans are social creatures, and being rejected by others can negatively impact our self-esteem, sense of worth, and mental state - Even more when this rejection comes from loved ones.
Rejected members of the LGBTQIA community experience a higher suicide attempt rate, which is concerning and should be reason enough to engage in prevention and sensibilization campaigns.
3) Difficulty Finding a Job
There's a reason why the US and other countries have laws that prevent employers from rejecting candidates based on sexual orientation, gender, age, race, etc. LGBTQ problems are not limited to social injustice but in the corporate and professional settings as well.
It's not uncommon for LGBTQIA members to have difficulty securing employment. Especially in rural areas and states that support anti-LGBTQIA laws. This is particularly true for transgender individuals, who are often more rejected at job interviews or discriminated against by the workforce.
4) Depression and Anxiety
Though these are growing problems in modern society, LGBTQIA members face them more frequently.
This community does not only have to face discrimination and prejudice, but also the internal challenges of sexual and gender identity and the coming out process.
Mental health issues are on the rise for many people, especially since the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic. But additional difficulties and challenges the LGBTQIA community face, simply puts them at higher risk of becoming depressed or anxious.
Now that we've reviewed some of the most common challenges the LGBTQIA community face on a regular basis, the question is: Where do we go from here?
Education & Sensibilization
It's imperative that families and systems begin taking these matters more seriously. Educating both children and adults on inclusive values and diversity is key to building a better and safer world.
Though many schools and businesses host informative talks about gender identity, sexual orientation, and discrimination, these should be included as part of the in-class curriculum and employee onboarding and training.
It's also crucial to encourage critical thinking and debate. Be curious. Encourage people to think about where their beliefs come from and the validity behind the messages.
As mentioned, humans are social creatures that need connection, respect, validation, and support from others. LGBTQIA members particularly need this support from family, friends, and allies.
The first step is validation. Loved ones need to acknowledge what one is going through and support them through it. "I see what's happening to you, and I'm sorry. But I want you to know I'm here for you no matter what" is a good place to start.
Listen to what they have to say and don't make assumptions - We are all individuals with unique life experiences. When showing up for the LGBTQIA community, it is important to not project your world view and life experiences onto them, instead, focus on their experiences and what is true for them.
As a member of the LGBTQIA community or as an ally, it is important to take part in the fight for equality for the LGBTQIA community. Whether that is protesting, taking part of or starting organizations, speaking up and speaking out, or getting politically involved. It is our ethical duty to show up.
Psychotherapy and therapists in the industry have evolved over the years. The LGBTQIA community can now feel safe and comfortable knowing there are plenty of therapists who identify as LGBTQIA and as allies. There no longer has to be the concern or worry that their therapist is oblivious to their unique challenges or who is prejudiced and operates from antiquated beliefs.
If you or a loved one are trying to find a LGBTQIA informed psychotherapist, here are some tips for finding the best one:
Make sure the therapist has qualifications and skills
Look for an inclusive therapist - How do they react when you mention your gender or sexual identity?
Schedule a consultation to assess if they are a good fit for you
Ask them if they have experience working with the LGBTQIA community
If you don’t vibe with a therapist, move on until you find one that you do vibe with
Please know that we at Healing Collective Therapy group are here for you. We offer LGBTQ therapy online in groups and online individual therapy sessions. If you're not sure if this is for you feel free to call us for a quick chat and see the vibe you get. We'll guide you in the best way we know how.