Viewing mental health through the lens of intersectional feminism calls for us to examine the specific mental health issues faced by the LGBTI community. While all mental health issues are largely ignored by the greater West Indian community, another group of marginalized people face specific oppression at the hands of medical professionals; they face specific issues regarding their sexuality and gender expression that other West Indians do not face.
In a society where non-cisgender and non-heterosexual people face massive amounts of physical/emotional and sexual violence, there is no space for LGBTI+ individuals to receive help or support for their unique difficulties. Not to mention, the people who cause these difficulties don’t believe that their problems are real. While I’m not qualified to speak on behalf of anyone in the community, I can advise my readers, especially those in positions of privilege, to pay attention to how our society creates toxic conditions for the mental health of LGBTI+ individuals.
LGBTI+ individuals face bullying and abuse at the hands of their family and friends. Abuse has a definitive negative impact on mental health. (Source: CDC, Google it)
LGBTI+ individuals face legal discrimination at work and in society at large. (Source: Anti buggery laws, instances of hate crimes.) It’s not difficult to see how this large scale discrimination could lead to depression and anxiety, among other conditions which may end in suicide and overall impact society in a negative way.
LGBTI+ individuals must live in constant fear of hate crimes considering our Christian society’s inability to empathize with them. Living in fear is not a healthy position for anyone to exist in.
Transgender and non-binary individuals may experience gender dysphoria as well as a whole host of other psychological issues caused by living in a violently oppressive and intolerant society that prescribes one way for men/women to behave and a society that doesn’t except people who are neither.
LGBTI+ individuals might reasonably see no hope for the future considering their family/friend’s comfort in using harmful+violent slurs and may see nothing but hatred from people who are supposed to love them.
This is just a short list of ways that our violent society oppresses LGBTI+ individuals in a way that denies them the human right to live freely. Due to this violence, LGBTI+ individuals may need special therapy and medical professionals with deep understanding of their specific needs. Doctors here might be bigoted themselves or otherwise unable to provide LGBTI+ individuals with proper assistance or medical treatment.
Some particularly violent people might believe that this doesn’t matter… But it does. While there are commonly touted lies that LGBTI+ identity is a choice or a fad (two things which shouldn’t affect civil rights anyways), this is not the case. Most people don’t know who is on the LGBTI+ spectrum. You should safely assume that someone you know or someone in your family suffers due to our violence against this marginalized group. Even if this didn’t affect your friends or your family, anyone with the ability to empathize should be able to see how these issues are important… All people deserve the same human rights.
Differences are not a reason to continue enacting violent oppression. We would do well to shed these colonial habits of discrimination and prejudice!
Going further, I recommend reading up on LGBTI+ identity and learning FACTS outside of what religious fundamentalists present you with. I recommend listening to members of the community and learning about their demands and their specific needs. Since it’s LGBT history month, I also recommend learning about the stories of LGBTI+ identifying West Indians specifically… There ARE quite a few out there who are writing and sharing their stories.
This is a great primer to get you started: http://www.amazon.com/Our-Caribbean-Gathering-Lesbian-Antilles/dp/082234226X
The responsibility to care for LGBTI+ mental health is on everyone in our society regardless of your sexuality or gender identity. It’s time for the oppressors to take charge of making these changes and assisting in bringing acceptance and justice to our region. Speak out against those who use slurs. Speak out against those who spread misinformation and violent propaganda. We need to start protecting our greater Caribbean family.