LGBTQ+ people are individuals whose gender, sexual orientation, and/or romantic orientation is different from the heterosexual, cisgender norms most commonly-accepted in our society. LGBTQ+ is an umbrella acronym that references an incredible diversity of nuanced human identities, including: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Agender, Two Spirit, Nonbinary, Gender Fluid, Genderqueer, Gender Non-Conforming (GNC), Asexual, Aromantic, Demisexual, Demiromantic, Pansexual, Graysexual, Questioning, and many more.
LGBTQ+ people belong everywhere. They deserve to live open, authentic lives without fear of discrimination, harassment, judgement, or violence. Despite decades of tireless advocacy, however, LGBTQ+ people still experience disproportionately worse health outcomes, endure ongoing discrimination, and are four times more likely to experience violence than their straight and cisgender peers. These disparities are often further compounded by isolation and a lack of access to appropriate primary and mental health care. LGBTQ+ individuals who are Transgender, disabled, youth, and/or people of color are most impacted, with risk factors including:
50% of transgender people have been sexually assaulted in their lifetime
53% of transgender people have been harassed in a public place like a bathroom
Transgender people are seven times more likely than cisgender people to experience violence from law enforcement
White transgender people are twice as likely to be unemployed due to discrimination, while transgender people of color are four times more likely
Ninety percent of transgender people have experienced harassment, mistreatment or discrimination in their workplaces
LGBTQ+ youth are over five times more likely to die by suicide than their heterosexual, cisgender peers
There are many factors–both historical and contemporary–which give rise to and perpetuate these harsh disparities. One significant factor is the lack of consistent legal protections regarding gender identity, expression, and sexual/romantic orientation. Decisions and policies—such as appropriate use of force by law enforcement, bathroom rights, businesses’ rights to refuse service, HIV criminalization laws, and transgender healthcare standards—vary dramatically by state and local jurisdiction. When layered with similar lack of protections against racial injustice, the risks are even more significant for LGBTQ+ people of color.
Equal rights, personal safety, equitable health outcomes, and social inclusion and belonging are all fundamental building blocks of individual and community wellbeing. LGBTQ+ people deserve to live fulfilling lives as their authentic selves, safe in their home communities. When we advocate for the wellbeing of marginalized community members, we advocate for the wellbeing of entire communities.
Changes to policies and laws that protect LGBTQ+ people at home, at work, and in public, regardless of their state or local jurisdiction, can improve LGBTQ+ peoples’ wellbeing at scale. Local communities can support LGBTQ+ businesses, create safe spaces for LGBTQ+ youth, push for EDI (Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) trainings, and advocate for policies that protect LGBTQ+ people from violence, harassment, and discrimination in all aspects of their lives.