The impact of homophobia and transphobia on health 2


The impact of homophobia and transphobia on health

Conference given by Bill Ryan

Version française

Bill Ryan spoke about the impact of homophobia and transphobia on one’s health. He defined homophobia as feelings of fear and aversion to homosexuality, to people who are homosexual, to any behaviour or appearance that doesn’t conform to the stereotype of masculinity or femininity. Transphobia is defined in the same way only the feelings of fear and aversion are directed towards trans people. He discussed heterosexism as the social norm, meaning that all people are heterosexual and that is the standard to live up to. Ryan discussed internalized homophobia or transphobia as feelings of inferiority, hatred, and most importantly, shame that is felt from someone who is homosexual, bisexual or trans based on their sexual orientation or identity.

In regards to the impacts of stigmatization and prejudice, it is separated into three different categories. The first is societal perceptions and the impacts include mental illness, stereotypes, sufferance and solitude. The second was societal attitudes and it includes hatred, prejudices, fear and pity. Lastly, the impacts of those perception and attitudes include discrimination, ridicule, intimidation, abuse and violence.

These three broad categories all have an impact on the way we see ourselves. In order to not be negatively impacted by these, one must have three things. Firstly, positive influences because without them, it may be hard for some to stay away from the negative. Secondly, one must have social support from family, friends, partners, organizations, etc. Lastly, one must have strategies to help deal with these negative factors or ways in which to eliminate them.

Ryan also separated youth, adults and the elderly regarding the different aspects of our health and how we live them (interior [inside of ourselves] and exterior [our environment]). There are five different health related impacts: mental, physical, social, developmental and relational.

With regards to youth, these are the possible internalized impacts of homo- and transphobia
•    Mental health: depression, anxiety, minor stress and suicidal thoughts
•    Physical health: STI’s, auto-mutilation and violence
•    Social health: isolation, dropping out and alienation from family
•    Developmental health: developmental delays
•    Relational health: solitude

For each category of health, there is an absence of something in their environment
•    Mental health: absence of specific services
•    Physical health: absence of information and services
•    Social health: absence of support
•    Developmental health: absence of pair groups
•    Relational health: absence of a secure environment, a safe space

All these have impacts on the way LGBT youth see their future. The developmental impacts of those who are stigmatize are as follows: they have a more difficult time asking for help, they believe they have less career choices and they have less models. There is also a risk of suicide for those who are just discovering new attractions, gender non-conformity, family and church rejection as well as homophobic violence.

With regards to adults, these are the possible internalized impacts of homo- and transphobia
•    Mental health: depression, anxiety, PTSD, minor stress and scars
•    Physical health: STI’s, consultation delays and violence
•    Social health: isolation and alienation from family
•    Developmental health: “Gay/ trans adolescence”: period of open and uninterrupted affirmation of one’s sexual orientation and identity
•    Relational health: steps for their coming out can be delayed

For each category of health, there is an absence of something in their environment
•    Mental health: absence of specific services
•    Physical health: social representations are not inclusive
•    Social health: absence of specific services
•    Developmental health: judgement from others
•    Relational health: difficulties meeting people

With regards to the elderly, these are the possible internalized impacts of homo- and transphobia
•    Mental health: depression, anxiety, PTSD, minor stress, isolation and scars
•    Physical health: consultation delays in the health system
•    Social health: isolation and alienation from family

For each category of health, there is an absence of something in their environment
•    Mental health: invisibility
•    Physical health: no recognition (there are no LGBT elderly)
•    Social health: no recognition (there are no LGBT elderly)

If you’d like more information, you can also visit the website of La table nationale de lutte contre l’homophobie et la transphobie des reseaux de l’education. It will give you access to the English and French resources from this year’s seminar. You have access to folders, guides, literature, teaching materials, policies, legislation and action plans, research as well as multimedia resources! 🙂

To read more on all of the seminar’s conferences, click here for the main article!


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