May 17 Is IDAHOT: The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia

The following guest post comes to us via Kelley Dupps, public policy manager for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona.

Pride flags in Reykjavík. Photo: Dave

Pride flags in Reykjavík. Photo: Dave

Tomorrow marks the annual celebration of IDAHOT — the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia. Established in 2004, the day was originally focused on combating homophobia and quickly began to consolidate with other identity groups. Transphobia was included in the title in 2009 and biphobia was included in 2015 to acknowledge the unique challenges faced by the trans and bisexual communities. In actuality, all expressions of sexuality and gender are acknowledged and celebrated: queer, asexual, and pansexual. IDAHOT is commemorated each May 17 — the day the World Health Organization (WHO) removed homosexuality as a mental disease from the WHO Standards of Care in 1990.

No one is free until we are all free.

IDAHOT is a day both to celebrate LGBTQI identities worldwide, but also to draw attention to the violence and discrimination LGBQI communities face. LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex) people have more visibility, and with that comes increased violence and discrimination. This year, more than 130 countries are scheduled to participate — nearly 40 of those participating countries criminalize same-sex relationships. Interestingly, participating countries like Egypt, Russia, and Ghana are just a few of the countries around the world that punish same-sex attraction, behavior, and relationships — often by harassment, arrest, imprisonment, public humiliation, and even death.

This year’s theme for IDAHOT is mental health and well being. Individuals who identify as LGBTQI are often overlooked and left out of health systems around the world. Research has shown individuals in the LGBTQI community drink more alcohol, smoke more tobacco, and are at unique and increased risks for cancer, HIV, and other significant health events. Most LGBTQI folks are not aware of these risks and do not see a health care provider on a regular basis.

In the United States, we have witnessed both gains and setbacks for LGBTQ folks. Currently in the United States, there are no nationwide protections for LGBTQ people and it’s completely legal to discriminate against lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) people in 29 states and trans and queer (TQ) people specifically in 34 states. Arizona is one of those states where it is legal to discriminate against someone based on their LGBTQ status. As a nation, we saw the outpouring of love and commitment with the marriage equality ruling in 2015; today we see the backlash as inhumane lawmakers push so-called “bathroom bills” targeting the transgender community and gender nonconforming individuals who simply need to pee.

A law recently passed in North Carolina mandates that individuals use the bathroom according to the gender assigned on their birth certificate. Not only are fringe politicians in your doctor’s office, but are now in, of all places, public restrooms. Last I checked, more of these politicians have been caught misusing the men’s room than anyone being attacked by a trans person.

Similar to abortion bills pushed by our opposition, these “bathroom bills” are not about the safety of other bathroom patrons. They are surely not about the safety of the trans person trying to use the facilities. They are about exploiting fears and stoking the fires of misinformation for political gain. It’s now even more dangerous for anyone who does not fit the mold of what a “woman” or “man” looks like to use the bathroom (or they may kick you out!).

While this is the American distillation of one vocal and public instance where LGBTQI folks face discrimination and increasing violence; there are other countries where folks are harassed, injured, and killed for simply being who they were born to be. No one is free until we are all free.