WTF Is IDAHOBiT?
Spoiler: it has nothing to do with hobbits
Today is IDAHOBiT or, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biophobia. It might be a day you’re clued up on, but if not fear not – we’re here to tell you WTF its is, and why should you care.
Started in 2004 as the slightly less difficult to say IDAHO (International Day Against Homophobia) and later grown to include further representation across the LBGTQI spectrum; IDAHOT (also sometimes known as IDAHOBIT, or still IDAHO, or whatever…let’s not get too bogged down in acronyms here) is described by its founders as “a worldwide celebration of sexual and gender diversities” and, also a day for highlighting the violence, discrimination and injustice experienced by LGBT+ people internationally. So it’s kind of a biggie.
WTF needs to be done about IDAHOT?
This year, though it’s open to anyone’s own interpretation, the theme of the day is focused on mental health and wellbeing.
Back in the dark ages (around the late 19th century), scientist’s early theories around gender and sexual identity variances revolved around chemical imbalances or mental deficiencies. Essentially, they considered anyone on the LBGTI spectrum to have mental health issues. The repercussions of this mistake are still being felt around the world today.
Globally, sexuality and gender diversities are still often treated as mental health issues. It wasn’t until 1990 (well out of the dark ages) that the World Health Organization published a revised version of the International Classification of Diseases Manual in which homosexuality was not considered a mental disease any more. What took you so long, guys?!
For transgender people, things are even further behind. In almost all countries (including the UK) an official diagnosis of “Gender Identity Disorder” is needed to gain access to health care or to transition.
Furthermore, around the world, mistreatment of LGBTQI people is still often justified through aims to “cure” what is a seen as a disease or illness. Historically and in extreme cases today “cures” such as electro-shock therapy, sterilisation, hormone treatments, brainwashing and in the case of lesbians and bisexual women, rape have been used as “treatments”. Shame we can’t try and ‘cure’ those who think being LGBTQI is anything other than totally normal.
This historic and often modern day stigmatisation and mistreatment can lead to what is often referred to as ‘minority stress’, a term used to describe the mental health consequences of stigmatisation, social exclusion, discrimination and harassment of minority groups. In LGBTQI individuals this has been widely attributed to the alarmingly high rates of mental illness and suicide, especially when it comes to young people. LGBTQI youth are four times more likely to commit suicide than their straight peers while 40% of all transgender people in the U.S. have attempted suicide. This is a problem rooted in social stigma and one that needs to change.
WTF can I do?!
Simple answer – lots.
Part of what you can do revolves around law. One of the main focuses of this year’s IDAHOT revolves around changing laws for transgender people that require mandatory diagnosis and psychiatric assessment before things like hormonal therapies can be undertaken. Others are campaigning to criminalise clinics worldwide that treat LGBTQI people for mental illness and for harsher punishment on those illegally doing so elsewhere.
You can find out about the organisations doing these things and how you can support them over at the IDAHOBIT website, here.
It’s not just about law though, IDAHOT is also about de-stigmatisation and the celebration and acceptance of LGBTQI people around the world. So you can start by tweeting your support for IDAHOT, using #May17IDAHOT. Or you could take time celebrate those who inspire you, or simply have a think about the way you support the LGBTQI community. The only bad thing you can do is do nothing – cos we all need to push for social and legal change. Head to IDAHOBiT website for more ideas.
So let’s do this - let’s get celebrating, get talking and most importantly, let’s make a change.
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