Understanding Homophobia and Transphobia
A person is a member of the LGBTQ+ community if their gender preferences and sexual orientations are diverse. LGBTQ community dates back many centuries, even before the term's use.
In the past, having a same-sex partner was considered taboo. Lovers disguised their same-sex relationships as friendships. Lesbians or gays would shy away from expressing love publicly to prevent being discriminated against. However, times have changed.
Openness to the LGBTQ+ community is increasing. Advocacies are shared everywhere, and the implementation of equality laws exist in some countries. But, some are still discriminative towards the community. The discrimination other people show is 'transphobia' or 'homophobia.'
Related: What is Gender Identity? Terms and Definitions
What is Homophobia or Transphobia?
Homophobia is caused by feelings of fear, discomfort, or mistrust towards LGBTQ+ people, specifically homosexuals. These feelings manifest through behavior and shows as prejudice or discrimination. This means that homophobics are abrasive towards homosexuals.
Transphobia's the same as homophobia. What separates the two terms are the individuals who are discriminated against. This means that transphobics are individuals who are discriminative towards trans-people.
Dangers of Homophobia
Homophobic and transphobic people are prejudiced towards the LGBTQ community. Avoiding and not interacting with the LGBTQ+ people helps them control their phobia. Some of them are triggered or angered just by an LGBTQ person's presence.
The hatred homophobics feel can translate into different forms. It can be posed verbally through name-calling, inflicting physical harm, or by giving hateful comments on the internet. It can lead to verbal abuse, harassment, violence, or even death.
Related: What is Clinical Anxiety?
Effects of Homophobia
When LGBT people are repetitively exposed to homophobic or transphobic remarks, it takes a toll on their mental health. This is why the second leading cause of death for LGBT people is suicide. The following are effects of homophobia on an LGBT+ person:
- Inability to appreciate oneself
- Increased feelings of stress
- Inability to relax in an environment
- Depressed mood
- Anger or self-loathing
- Low-self esteem
- Mood swings
- Feelings of helplessness
- Withdrawal from friends or loved ones
Exposure to a stressful environment and inability to get support can turn mental health problems into disorders. Common mental disorders that form in LGBT+ people are Gender Dysphoria, depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.
Related: Understanding Depression
How to prevent Homophobia or Transphobia
Homophobia is one of the reasons why an LGBT person is afraid to come out of the closet. They’re afraid of getting picked on and treated differently. They’re afraid of the discrimination they’ll be facing when they admit to their family and friends their real selves. They’re afraid to get physically hurt just because they don't fit in society's normal gender roles.
Here are tips you can do to prevent homophobia:
Start them young
Educate the youth about the LGBTQ+ community. It’s important to teach them about equality and diversity at a young age because that would change the way they view people.
Educate the adults
It’s fear of the unknown that they’re most afraid of. It’s as equally important to educate the adults as it is to educate the youth. That way, adults can be more mindful of their actions and words towards the LGBTQ+.
Make LGBTQ+ a regular topic
You don’t have to be part of the LGBTQ+ community to help them out. You can be an ally and support can be shown through small ways. The best way is to talk about it and share stories to help others become aware.
How to deal with Homophobia
If you're part of the LGBTQ+ community, it's common to experience homophobia. You might experience it in different places. Here are some tips on how you can deal with homophobia:
Give them space
Whether you’re dealing with homophobia from your loved ones, the best thing to do is to give them time to process things. When you come out of the closet, it's a big change and you're not the only one affected. Some families are unaccepting because they fear change. It's normal for families to feel anxious or afraid of change. Give them space to wrap their head around the idea. Eventually, the more they understand and accept you, the less they’ll have any fear.
If they’re coming from strangers, turn the other way and don’t let it get to you. You don't have to apologize to other people just because they hate your existence. Straight, gay, or gender fluid, everyone has haters. What you can do is to ignore the ones who really aren't helping you grow in life.
If you’ve had enough of all the rude comments about your sexuality or you’ve been physically hurt, it’s time to call the authorities and let them handle the situation. Don’t be afraid to report them because you have rights, too. The following are LGBTQ+ resources that can give you support when things get out of control:
- LGBT National Youth Hotline (for those under 23 y/o)
- Trevor Project (crisis and suicide intervention)
- LGBT National Hotline (anonymous hotline for interventions)
- True Colors United (LGBTQ+ for the homeless youth)
- Pride Institute LGBTQ Dependency (for LGBTQ+ who are suffering from Substance Use Disorder)
In a world where you can easily hate what you don’t understand, choose to respect and accept others. Pause and allow yourself to see the good in everyone.