Discrimination and its impact on mental wellbeing
With growing acceptance and recognition in society, most LGBTIQA+ people have good mental health. However, many others experience discrimination that can have a big impact on their health and wellbeing.
Hetero-cisnormativity and Hetero-cissexism
Learn more about why the LGBTIQA+ community experiences discrimination.
Heterosexism is a form of discrimination that views heterosexuality as the norm and superior to other sexual/romantic identities. Cissexism is a form of discrimination based on cisnormativity where trans, gender diverse and non-binary identifying are treated as lesser than cisgender people.
In society, hetero- and cisnormativity pressures people to fit binary gender and heterosexual roles, while stigmatising any other behaviours, identities, relationships, communities and/or experiences. Because of this, hetero- and cisnormativity is related to heterosexism, cissexism, homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.
Cisnormativity is the expectation that sex assigned at birth matches gender where the only options are binary (male or female).
People with hetero-cissexist attitudes and beliefs view the LGBTIQA+ community as second-class minorities, which leads to discrimination of their legal rights, civil rights and socio-economic opportunities.
Examples of heterosexism and cissexism in Australia and its recent history have included: restricting who can marry, forcing already married couples to divorce (eg. ‘forced divorce laws’), not recognising gender variations for legal documents, laws that discriminate against non-heterosexual and gender diverse people (eg. ‘gay panic defence’) and stereotyping the LGBTIQA+ community in media.
Heteronormativity is the expectation that heterosexuality is favoured and assumed to be the norm in society. Heteronormative attitudes and beliefs include believing that relationships are only morally acceptable when they are between people of the opposite sex.
What is Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia?
There are several common terms to describe the fear, hatred, discomfort or mistrust people experience toward the LGBTIQA+ community:
Homophobia: Discrimination and prejudice towards people who identify as Gay, Lesbian or Homoromantic Asexual.
Biphobia: Discrimination and prejudice towards people who identify as Bisexual or Pansexual.
Transphobia: Discrimination and prejudice towards people who are transgender, genderqueer or don’t follow traditional gender norms.
Homo/bi/transphobia can be carried out by anybody – even within the LGBTIQA+ community.
These attitudes and beliefs are usually due to the irrational fears and misunderstandings learnt in families, communities, cultures or religions.
People who don’t identify as being straight or cisgender can experience internalised homo/bi/transphobia, turning these negative attitudes and beliefs toward themselves. They may feel uncomfortable or disapproving of their own feelings, thoughts and behaviours and never identify with the LGBTIQA+ community or even discriminate against them.
Although homo/bi/transphobia continues today, the LGBTIQA+ community and their allies have made major progress in fighting for equality in areas like marriage, employment, housing, health and protection from hate crimes.
For example, LGBTIQA+ youth attending schools that have anti-discrimination policies are more likely to feel safer. They have almost half the rate of abuse and negative mental health impact compared to schools without these in place.
Discrimination towards LGBTIQA+ people can be overt or subtle. Here are some examples:
Overt discrimination involves direct and intentional action taken by an offender towards a person's sexual or gender identity, like:
Subtle discrimination (microaggression) involves indirect, sometimes unintentional, actions that make people feel just as hurt, unwanted or inferior about their sexual or gender identity, like:
How can I help stop homo/bi/transphobia?
Everyone has the right to feel safe and be free from discrimination. Here are some things you can do to take action against homo/bi/transphobia.
If you're experiencing homo/bi/transphobia, you don't have to deal with it alone.
It's important to get support from people you trust in the LGBTIQA+ community or their allies.
Talking helps! We’re here for you.
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