On this day year 1990, the World Health Organization (WHO) erased "homosexuality" as a diagnosis of mental illness from the International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD.) This is in-line with the scientific consensus that the stigma and discrimination may lead to mental health issues among the gender minorities but being homosexual in itself is not a disorder (Mysorekar, 2019). Started in 2004, the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOTB) was launched to commemorate the progress and it has become a global occasion to educate about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, and to advocate for sensible public policies regarding LGBT+ people.
Before that, American Psychiatric Association (APA) removed homosexuality from the revision of their own nosology, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - Second Edition (DSM-II) on 1974 which led the scientific community to focused more on general health and mental health of the LGBTQIA+ populations rather than on what and how can practitioners treat homosexuality (Drescher, 2015).
Are Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia considered as a Phobia?
Dr. George Weinberg the psychotherapist who introduced the term homophobia in 1969 described this as a phobia about homosexuals or extreme aversion in the presence of the gay men and gay women as what he observed from his colleagues. When he published his book "Society and the Healthy Homosexual" in 1972, he set firmly that those who were prejudiced against gay people were irrational and that gay people themselves were not intrinsically disordered (Bauer, 2021). Contemporary researchers generally agree that homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia are form sexual prejudice rather than an irrational fear or what we clinically defined as phobias (Logan, 2010). It is a preconceived judgement in view of same-sex behaviors, an implicit emotional bias about homosexual interests, and a negative attitude toward sexual minorities (Herek and McLemore, 2013). These are hatreds which are not considered as clinical in sense but a result of ignorance from diverse sexual identities.
What is Internalized Homophobia?
We often read on social medias that when an openly gay man discriminates his fellow gay man that is a form of internalized homophobia. Or when a bisexual shame a transwoman that is internalized homophobia. However, those cases are considered as a sexual prejudice or the general term “homophobia”. When we say internalized homophobia that means it is an internal hate of the self from having sexual identity outside of the cultural norm. It is when you feel distressed that you are part of the LGBTQIA+ community. It is when you cannot accept your sexual orientation and try to reject yourself. Internalized homophobia occurs when a person is subject to society’s negative perceptions, intolerance, and stigma toward people with same-sex attraction. They turn those ideas inward which results the experience of self-hatred from being a socially stigmatized person. Internalized homophobia affects the general health and wellbeing, this can predict poor relationship quality, mental health conditions, chronic stress, push the person to engage in a sexually compulsive behavior, and even concealment of once identity and feeling of uncomfortableness towards the self (Villines, 2021).
Where are we so far?
Even it has been 31 years since the WHO and 47 years since the APA removed homosexuality from their nosology; the misconceptions, microaggressions, stigmas, and discriminations against the gender minorities are still existing issues. Here are some statistics:
1. From meta-analysis, gender minority youths were 3.5 times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual people. Lesbians and gay adolescents were 3.71 times more likely. While transgender adolescents were 5.87 times more likely. And bisexual youths were 3.69 times more likely than heterosexual peers to attempt suicide (Carroll, 2018). Gender minorities demonstrated particularly high levels of victimization (3.74) and mental health difficulties (2.67) when compared to cisgender, heterosexual counterparts who also had these experiences (Williams et al., 2021).
2. Fifty five percent (55%) of LGBT students report having experienced homophobic, biphobic or transphobic bullying. Almost 1 in 4 lesbian, gay, and bisexual pupils experience cyberbullying. Worryingly, 9% of LGBTQ+ pupils are subjected to death threats (Bullies Out, 2021.)
3. Homosexuality is still a crime in 71 countries and among those 11 where it is punishable by death (Human Dignity Trust, 2021.)
4. In the Philippines, only 15% of Filipinos resides in the area which are protected by ordinances against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (Human Rights Watch [HRW], 2017.)
We always long for the day of ending Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia and we can achieve that by being more vocal about the challenges of our LGBTQIA+ siblings. Read more contents about their experiences and associate ourselves with the community. And by supporting legislations that will promote gender-affirmative health care and safe spaces for people of diverse sexualities.
Happy International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia!