The Unique Traumas Facing the LGBTQ+ Community

LGBTQ

Though much has been done to advance the cause of the LGBTQ+ Community, the constituents of this group still face many unique challenges and stigmatisation, with the occurrence of trauma amongst the community being over-represented.

Gender mainstreaming means that LGBTQ+ people’s struggles, both mental and physical, often go under the radar. They are left to try to deal with serious psychological and physical health issues on their own for fear of rejection or reprisal, which at the furthest end of the spectrum, can manifest in serious physical abuse and even death. Help is at hand, but let’s first try to understand some of these unique challenges.

Acceptance, Recognition and a Sense of Place in the World (but Not for Everyone)

Up until 1990, homosexuality was still considered to be a mental disorder and, in some countries, was criminalised for being ‘against the order of nature’. In May of that year, the World Health Organisation redressed this arcane ruling, ‘recognising it as a natural variant of human sexuality’ (although corrective therapy still exists in some countries today).[1] Whilst this was a massive step-change for society as a whole, many people within the community are still not afforded respect, equal rights, or the requisite sense of personal dignity that this affords.

As a result, discrimination, hate crimes, and other forms of marginalisation (and in the worst case, honour killings) can prevent people from confidently taking their place in the world and can lead to a prevalence of behavioural issues and corresponding mental health challenges. As this intensifies, trauma is stored by the body over time, leading to a heightened response state and placing a huge amount of stress on the nervous system, often leading to PTSD and a litany of other mental and physical health disorders and substance abuse.[2]

Universal Health Care but in Which Universe?

Members of the LGBTQ+ community can still struggle to access basic health care, with some healthcare professionals behaving inappropriately and discriminating against them.[3] This is particularly prevalent with transgender people who can suffer shame, humiliation, and outright rejection whilst trying to secure medical care and even struggle to find toilet facilities, which is an infringement of their human rights.

Keeping on top of their sexual health can also be a serious issue. An Australian study found that LGBTQ+ people were ‘far more likely to be psychologically depressed than non-members’.[4] In some countries, even acquiring proper identity documents which can enable civil activities such as voting, the right to education, and relevant health insurance coverage can be difficult – if not impossible. This can lead to mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and a sense of hopelessness. Without treatment, all of these issues can compound and become more serious than they ever needed to be.

Bullying, Rejection, Disassociation and Other Coping Mechanisms

LGBTQ+ community members often feel and can appear ‘different’ (to currently socially accepted norms) from an early age. This can lead to playground bullying that carries over into adulthood and often spills over into violence and physical abuse. Perhaps more insidious is the kind of psychological abuse and marginalisation that can occur in the workplace and other areas where physical abuse is not commonplace. Being rejected by family and other loved ones is often even harder to cope with as the lack of unconditional love, support, and acceptance can leave lasting scars or traumas on the mind and body.

Everybody Down on the Floor – When Harassment Turns to Violence

They are words nobody wants to hear, but when people in your community hear them en masse just because of who they are and how they choose to live their lives, this can make feeling safe in the world seemingly impossible. The Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando added another layer of complexity to the lives of LGBTQ+ people. It resulted in the death of forty-nine members of their community and the wounding of fifty-three others who were targeted for no other reason than how they chose to live their lives.[5] To have a key environment where you feel safe, free, and liberated turned into a killing field is about as traumatic as you can get. Every human needs a judgement-free place where they can be themselves and dance like no one is watching. The removal of the equivalent of a safe house is an extremely traumatic event which in turn leads to fear, anxiety and hyper-vigilance.

Finding Safety and Solace Within

Society still has a lot of work to do, and everyone, including hard-working LGBTQ+ lobbyists, can play their part. Still, each person must be responsible for mastering their own coping mechanisms and self-healing. The particular kinds of problems experienced require specific methods and solutions and should be trauma-informed. We can’t always control what is happening around us, but if we are shown ways to try and deal with pain and discomfort caused by others, we can learn to rise above it and lead happy prosperous lives.

 

If you have a client or know of someone struggling to heal from psychological trauma, reach out to us at Khiron Clinics. We believe that we can improve therapeutic outcomes and avoid misdiagnosis by providing an effective residential program and outpatient therapies addressing underlying psychological trauma. Allow us to help you find the path to realistic, long-lasting recovery. For more information, call us today. UK: 020 3811 2575 (24 hours). USA: (866) 801 6184 (24 hours).

 

[1] Sharma, Dr. Shilpa. “Challenges Faced By The LGBTQ Community- A Comparative Study Between India And Australia.”. Turkish Journal Of Computer And Mathematics Education (TURCOMAT), vol 12, no. 4, 2021, pp. 1105-1109. Auricle Technologies, Pvt., Ltd., doi:10.17762/turcomat.v12i4.607. Accessed 16 June 2021.

[2] Chasser, Yvonne M. “Profiles of Youth with PTSD and Addiction.” Journal of child & adolescent substance abuse vol. 25,5 (2016): 448-454. doi:10.1080/1067828X.2015.1081115

[3] Logie, Carmen H et al. “”Automatic assumption of your gender, sexuality and sexual practices is also discrimination”: Exploring sexual healthcare experiences and recommendations among sexually and gender diverse persons in Arctic Canada.” Health & social care in the community vol. 27,5 (2019): 1204-1213. doi:10.1111/hsc.12757

[4] Sharma, Dr. Shilpa. “Challenges Faced By The LGBTQ Community- A Comparative Study Between India And Australia.”. Turkish Journal Of Computer And Mathematics Education (TURCOMAT), vol 12, no. 4, 2021, pp. 1105-1109. Auricle Technologies, Pvt., Ltd., doi:10.17762/turcomat.v12i4.607. Accessed 16 June 2021.

[5]  Egbert, Rae, and Gina M. DePalo. “Finding Safety, Building Community, And Providing Hope: The Creation Of Pride Healing Center”. Violence Against LGBTQ+ Persons, 2020, pp. 241-264. Springer International Publishing, doi:10.1007/978-3-030-52612-2_19. Accessed 16 June 2021.

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