Every year on May 17th the International Community (not so much the United States for some reason) celebrates International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, currently known as IDAHOT. The internet, the social networks and media are filled with messages of support for LGBT Rights in all the languages and in all forms of digital expression. In some countries like in El Salvador there are marches, rallies and protests advocating for structural change in a system that discriminates because of sexual orientation or gender identity.
This Blog covers some of the questions you may have about IDAHOT.
Why do we do this? Isn’t Pride month right around the corner? What happened on the 17th?
On May 17, 1990, the World Health Assembly of the World Health Organization approved the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems and for the first time it no longer listed homosexuality as a diagnosis.
In other words homosexuality was no longer classified as a disease by the medical community. (Yay!)
So homosexuals are not sick then?
No we are not, and neither are heterosexuals.
Sexual orientation is a part of a person’s identity, it refers to whom you are sexually and romantically attracted to, sometimes it can be a person of the opposite sex, sometimes someone of your same sex and sometimes both. It is not a psychological disorder, it is not something coming from trauma or sexual abuse what causes a person to be gay, and frankly most of us don’t care what the reason is. Have you ever wondered what causes heterosexuality?
I hear what you are saying but I’ve also heard that with the right treatment one can become “normal” I know someone who used to be gay.
I’d like to challenge that last part by asking: what is normal? In my opinion nobody is normal and nobody should be… Viva la Diversité!
Going back to the treatment part of the question, sexual orientation is not a condition that happens because of a virus or a psychological disorder, in fact this year President Obama called to end conversion therapy practices across the United States. California, New Jersey and the District of Columbia in the United States have passed laws that prevent conversion therapy practices that claim can change a person’s sexual orientation most often targeting LGBT youth causing physiological and emotional damage in the process.
These practices are frequent all across the globe even though homosexuality is no longer considered a disease many pseudo mental health professionals continue to sell the idea that one´s sexual orientation can be change for a profit.
I see that you are talking about homosexuals a lot, what about lesbians?
True. Sadly when we speak about sexual orientation and gender identity we tend to leave some groups behind. In fact today IDAHOT officially stands for “International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia” I don’t know why but for some reason the reference to bisexuality was taken out of the tittle.
In the case of lesbian women they are also left out of the title, in part because many argue that homosexual behavior includes women too.
The truth is that the struggle of lesbian women it’s real, hard and quite different than the one gay men face. In many countries conversion therapy practices for lesbian women include engaging in forced sexual relations with men as a way to “normalize” they sexual conduct (yes that´s rape)
During 2013 a Scandal broke in Ecuador when they discovered that around 200 clinics that operated under the promise of “curing homosexuality” used torture techniques, rape and other Human Rights violations to “dehomosexualize” their patients. President Correa appointed as the new Heath Minister a former lesbian activist who sworn to end and close down clinics that promote such practices in Ecuador.
What about trans people? They are sick right?
No, Trans people are not sick but this is a complicated question partly because Gender Dysphoria is still part of the the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, (DSM-5) of the American Psychiatric Association‘s (APA) and other manuals of diagnosis like the ICD of the World Health Organization follow a similar approach.
When they officially took homosexuality out of the black list of deadly diseases they forgot about trans people, maybe because there weren’t enough trans voices out there to do the advocacy work needed or maybe society and those white male folks in the medical community didn’t quite understood/cared.
In any case although gender dysphoria is still considered a psychological disorder, however nowadays We understand that there is nothing wrong with been trans, that trans identities are not a disease they are just identities.
Many Human Rights organizations and trans communities across the world are currently advocating for the non pathologization of trans identities, an approach that would recognized their right to self-determination but still grant access to hormonal treatment and sex reassignment surgery if desired.
So it’s not a psychological thing but what if it’s a genetic thing, maybe We should look for the gay gene and save future generations.
You can advocate for anything you want as long as you don’t hurt others and don’t end up doing experiments on people like the Nazis did.
But maybe if We put our efforts in understanding why society has such a big interest in labels and conformity and less time worrying about why people are gay or lesbians We would all live in a better world.
I came to understand homosexuality as condition that is part of my humanity, not a disease of any kind; to me homophobia, in contrast, is one of the greatest sickness of the world that need to be eradicated, maybe we should invent a pill for that instead.
Hope this blog helps you understand why We have so many gay holidays around these days, they are in fact historical landmarks that need to be remembered.