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International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia
International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia 495 401 CJ Bourque

International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia

International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia

International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia

By Leo Kirkham

The International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia is celebrated on May 17 every year.

The holiday was imagined in 2004 by grassroots activists, and commemorated for the first time on May 17, 2005. The day of May 17 was chosen to represent the day in 1990 that the World Health Organization removed “homosexuality” from its classifications of mental disorders.

The committee of grassroots activists went by the acronym IDAHO (International Day Against Homophobia). In 2009, the phrase transphobia was added to recognize the violence and discrimination against transgender people. By 2015, biphobia was added as well, to recognize the unique discrimination experienced by bisexual, pansexual, and other multisexual people. The complete acronym is now IDAHOBIT, recognizing lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people together.

Petitions were launched by IDAHOBIT in 2005 and 2009, attracting historical support from many non-profit organizations and countries across the world. In 2005, activities for the day took place worldwide, including the first LGBTQ events ever to take place in the Congo, China, and Bulgaria. In 2009, when transphobia was added to the campaign, the petition was supported by more than 300 non-governmental organizations from more than 75 countries, as well as three Nobel Prize winners. Shortly before May 17, 2009, France became the first country in the world to remove transgender people from their list of mental disorders.

The goal of the day is to create an event that can be visible at the global level without requiring a specific form of action, allowing LGBTQ people and allies to approach the day in a way that feels authentic and actionable for them. Petitions, protests, marches, letters to newspapers, letters to politicians, celebrations, and more are welcome on the IDAHOBIT. The goal is a worldwide day of raising awareness and taking action.

How will you take action this May 17?

  • Post on social media: Find an IDAHOBIT media kit here and here and post with the hashtag #IDAHOBIT2023
  • Join your local school board meetings and speak up in support of LGBTQ students
  • Join your local neighborhood council meetings and speak up in support of LGBTQ rights in your neighborhood
  • Write to your local politicians and vote!
  • Write a letter to the editor for your local paper supporting transgender rights
  • Listen to music by transgender musicians
  • Watch TV and movies starring transgender actors
  • And last but not least, VOLUNTEER with Kaleidoscope! We can use your help this summer, whether it’s at a social event or a resource fair, to support our LGBTQ+ youth and give them safe spaces to connect with each other and be their authentic selves.

From all of us at Kaleidoscope, thank you for reading and taking the time to honor International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia.

Allies: Speak Up on the Day of Silence
Allies: Speak up on the Day of Silence 496 401 CJ Bourque

Allies: Speak up on the Day of Silence

Allies: Speak Up on the Day of Silence

Allies: Speak up on the Day of Silence

By Leo Kirkham

We all remember – or for some of us, currently experience – how cruel kids can be in school. Bullying is a major problem for students who are marginalized in some way, whether it’s kids of color experiencing racism, disabled children experiencing ableism, or LGBTQ kids experiencing homophobia and transphobia.

52% of LGBTQ middle and high school students report being bullied in school or over the internet. These numbers are higher for middle schoolers (65%), transgender and nonbinary students (61%), Native and Indigenous students (70%), and multiracial students (54%).

Mistreatment by others, including bullying, is a strong and consistent risk factor for youth suicide. Youth who are bullied are three times more likely to attempt suicide. This is true whether the bullying takes place in person at school or online.

However, LGBTQ students who report that their schools are LGBTQ-affirming are less likely to be bullied, by 30% (The Trevor Project).

Started in the mid-90s by two college students, the National Day of Silence is an annual day of action to raise awareness about the effects of bullying and harassment against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning students. Students – both LGBTQ and allies – who participate in the Day of Silence spend the entire day without speaking, to represent the way that bullying and harassment silences LGBTQ youth.

What can you do to honor the Day of Silence? Speak up! LGBTQ youth need adult allies to talk to their school administrators and teachers. Attend a school board meeting and voice your support for an LGBTQ-affirming school environment and anti-harassment and anti-bullying policies. Support LGBTQ-history and inclusive sex education. Support gender-neutral bathrooms in your local schools. A great example of affirming and safe spaces are The Help Group schools and Kaleidoscope programs.

Bullying is a significant area of concern for LGBTQ youth, particularly Native youth, transgender and nonbinary youth, and middle school students. Taking action to support bullied students can save lives.

For resources and support on how to support your LGBTQ+ students and youth, please reach out to us with any questions at [email protected].

Celebrating Transgender Day of Visibility
Celebrating National Transgender Day of Visibility 495 400 CJ Bourque

Celebrating National Transgender Day of Visibility

Celebrating Transgender Day of Visibility

Celebrating National Transgender Day of Visibility 2023

By Leo Kirkham

National Transgender Day of Visibility, celebrated on March 31, was founded in 2009 by transgender activist Rachel Crandall as a response to the lack of holidays celebrating transgender people, citing frustration that the only well-known transgender holiday was the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Transgender Day of Visibility is a day to celebrate the transgender community and our diverse experiences and identities. It is a day to celebrate trans joy and the ways that transgender people are alive and well and living joyous, fulfilling lives.

Yes, trans people experience discrimination and tragedy, but that is not our whole story. We also experience love, friendship, happiness, chosen family, and long, happy lives. Here are five ways to celebrate Transgender Day of Visibility and honor your transgender sisters, brothers, and siblings.

1. Attend or volunteer at a local Transgender Day of Visibility event and celebrate with others in the community.

2. Follow and engage with transgender advocates and organizations on social media. Some people and groups to follow are:

3. Reach out to transgender people in your life and show them your support.

  • Check in about your loved one’s pronouns and name – their feelings may have changed, and they may wish to be referred to by a different name or pronoun.
  • Ask if your loved one wants help legally changing their name or starting a medical transition.
  • Ask your loved one how you can best support them in their journey and identity.

4. Educate yourself on transgender-related topics to be more informed and to better understand the community.

Some topics to research include:

  • Transgender homelessness
  • Transgender employment
  • Transgender housing
  • Transgender healthcare access
  • Transgender mental health
  • Nonbinary identities
  • Transgender education, students’ rights in school
  • Transgender media representation
  • Violence against transgender people
  • Marginalization of transgender women of color; intersectionality

5. Donate to organizations that are working to advance transgender rights and equality.

From all of us at Kaleidoscope, we want our Trans community to know that we see you, we hear you, and we uplift your stories and voices.

National LGBTQ+ Health Awareness Week
National LGBTQ Health Awareness Week 495 401 CJ Bourque

National LGBTQ Health Awareness Week

National LGBTQ+ Health Awareness Week

National LGBTQ Health Awareness Week

By Leo Kirkham

Sponsored by the National Coalition for LGBTQ Health, the 21st annual National LGBTQ Health Awarness Week is March 20-24, 2023. This week celebrates good health for LGBTQ people, and brings awareness to the health disparities faced by the community.

Looking for therapy for a teen or young adult?  The Help Group’s Lumina Counseling has appointment availability throughout the week and weekends, both in-person and online. To schedule an appointment or inquire for more information, call 818-779-5100 or visit our website to get started.

What is a health disparity?

A health disparity happens when one group of people has a different health outcome than another group, all other things being equal. For example, Black women are more likely to die from breast cancer than white women. This has to do with many factors – racial discrimination from healthcare providers, financial barriers to obtaining medical care, cultural norms around preventative breast cancer screenings (such as a white actress being chosen for a breast cancer screening commercial), and racism at a systemic level that keeps all of these connected factors in place.

For the LGBTQ community, health disparities are strongly related to discrimination, hostility, and social rejection. Whether it is from a family member, friend, teacher, boss, doctor, or another person, discriminatory behavior and words have an impact on the health of LGBTQ people.

Specifically, LGBTQ people have poorer outcomes with mental health, physical health, and access to healthcare. LGBTQ people are at a greater risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts and behaviors, mood disorders and anxiety, eating disorders, alcohol and substance use, and tobacco use.

These mental health concerns tie into physical health, such as liver disease, lung disease, heart disease, chronic pain, and the many health impacts of eating disorders. Those suffering from mental health distress may also be more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior, which can lead to trauma, STIs, and unwanted pregnancy. Gay and bisexual men are at a higher risk of HIV, as are transgender women, Black men, and Latino men. Lesbian and bisexual women and transgender men are at a higher risk of breast cancer (source).

Access is also an issue. LGBTQ people are less likely to have a regular healthcare provider or health insurance. Older LGBTQ adults report poorer health, more chronic conditions, and less social support. LGBTQ people are also more likely to report poor quality healthcare, unfair treatment by providers, and general lack of cultural competence by providers.

What causes these disparities for this population?

First, the minority status of LGBTQ people causes stress. Stress is a leading cause of both mental and physical health problems.

Discrimination against LGBTQ people creates systemic barriers to accessing quality healthcare. Discrimination and harassment in the workplace against queer and transgender employees makes it more difficult for LGBTQ people to stay employed at queer-friendly jobs that provide healthcare. Discrimination from healthcare providers themselves creates lasting harm for LGBTQ patients, who carry trauma and fear around medical care for the rest of their lives. 15% of LGBTQ people report delaying care or avoiding care altogether as a result of fear of discrimination. This number doubles to 30% for transgender patients (source).

Even a well-meaning doctor who considers themself an ally to the LGBTQ community can cause harm to an LGBTQ patient through ignorance and lack of knowledge. Many transgender patients find themselves doing research on transition care and teaching their own doctors how to care for them. 1 in 3 transgender patients have reported needing to teach their doctor about their identity in order to receive adequate care (source). Medical schools do not teach hormone therapy as a standard practice; a general practitioner would have to actively seek out education in this area to become informed. The lack of education around LGBTQ health issues and LGBTQ culture and identity creates a medical environment where LGBTQ people are not included, welcomed, or accommodated.

Many insurance plans do not cover transition-related healthcare procedures, such as hormones or surgery, or the cost of these procedures after insurance is still prohibitive for transgender people with higher rates of poverty, unemployment, and homelessness. Additionally, insurance plans sometimes mistakenly reject requests, such as rejecting a transgender man’s claim for a pap smear because his insurance profile reads as “male” (source).

Lastly, there is also a lack of clinical research on LGBTQ-related health issues. Where funding and research does not exist, neither does quality healthcare.

The good news is that change is being made. Advocates, students, medical professionals, and community members are working to improve the quality of healthcare that LGBTQ patients receive. Groups like the LA LGBT Center have programs like the Trans Wellness Center which provide low-cost transition-related health and wellness services for transgender and non-binary people in Los Angeles. Legislation like S.B. 107 in California will protect transgender children and their families fleeing states like Texas, Idaho, and Florida, which are trying to criminalize access to trans healthcare for youth.

If you are searching for an LGBTQ-affirming medical provider for yourself or your child, please see GLMA or OutCare.

Here’s to good health for us all.