Homophobia, transphobia and biphobia
If he identifies as non-binary then I identify as a pineapple 😂
Uh, that’s pretty transphobic
What? I’m not afraid of trans people
Despite the “phobia” root of the word, homophobia does not look like somebody seeing a lesbian and running out of the room in terror. Homophobia means discomfort, dislike or prejudice towards people who are or who are perceived to be gay, lesbian or queer. Biphobia is discomfort, dislike or prejudice towards bisexual people. Transphobia is, you guessed it, discomfort, dislike or prejudice towards trans people.
Here are some examples of homophobia:
- Bullying a person online because he’s gay or assumed to be gay.
- Spreading rumours about a person being queer or telling other people that someone is questioning their sexual identity when they haven’t said you can share.
- Parents kicking their bisexual kid out of the house for not being straight.
- Not wanting to be friends with somebody after she comes out as lesbian.
Bisexual people often experience both homophobia and biphobia. Here are some examples:
- Thinking a bisexual person is really just gay.
- Not wanting to date a bisexual person because of the assumption that they’re not sure about their sexuality.
- Assuming that bisexual people have more sexually transmitted infections.
Transphobia can look like this:
- Violence, especially if a cis person feels “tricked” if they find out a trans person is trans.
- The expectation that trans people should only use single stall washrooms, not gendered washrooms.
- Assuming that trans women are just guys in drag.
- Not being provided with gender options other than ‘male’ or ‘female’ on medical forms.
- Not being able to purchase clothing that matches your gender and fits your body.
Microaggressions, aka your “daily dose of discrimination”
Not all forms of homophobia, biphobia or transphobia are aggressive or overt.
Microaggressions against LGBTQ folks are everyday assumptions or put-downs by straight and cis people. They’re usually not intended to be rude, and in fact sometimes they are even wrapped up as compliments!
Microaggressions are often stereotypical comments or non-verbal communications. They hurt like tiny mosquito bites. One or two aren’t a big deal but if you get a ton of mosquito bites every day, they go from annoying to awfully painful.
Microaggressions against lesbians often include assumptions about what “real” women are like. Here are some examples:
|"Which one of you is the guy?"||Relationships between women should follow the same script as straight relationships.||Relationships between women can look a lot of different ways and don’t require anyone to take on a male role.|
|"Lesbian? That’s cool, as long as I can watch."||Lesbians exist for straight men’s sexual desire. This is objectification.||Lesbians, and women in general, are not sexual objects for men’s enjoyment.|
|"You wear dresses. How can you be a lesbian?"||All lesbians are masculine.|
Gender expression determines sexual orientation.
|Lesbians may have many different gender expressions.|
There is no one way to look like a lesbian.
Gay men experience microaggressions that are often based on stereotypes about what “real” men are like. Here are some examples:
|"Gay? That’s fine. Just don’t hit on me, bro."||Gay men are attracted to all men, everywhere, all the time.|
Gay men want to hit on straight men.
Straight men need to be worried about unwanted sexual attention.
A gay man’s identity is all about sex.
|Gay men are attracted to men, but not all men.|
Gay men have no desire to hit on someone if they expect a negative, and possibly violent, reaction.
|"OMG, will you be my gay best friend?"||Gay men will want to do stereotypically feminine things with straight women, such as shopping or getting a pedicure.
Gay men will make you more popular because you have more check marks on your diversity list. This is called tokenism.
|Some gay men – like some straight men! – love shopping and pedicures with women. But not all do. And even the ones that do usually don’t want to be treated like a sitcom character. It’s disrespectful to be friends with someone because of their identity and not their personality.|
|"No homo."||Straight men can only express affection to each other if they’re clear it’s not sexually motivated.|
Straight men don’t want to come across as gay, because gay is inherently “bad”.
|If you’re okay with people being gay, then you shouldn’t have to worry if someone mistakenly thinks you are.|
This fear really sucks for straight men, too.
|"That haircut is so gay."||The word "gay" used this way, means silly, ugly, bad or wrong. Lesbian comedian Wanda Sykes explains it best.||Hearing the expression ‘that’s so gay’ makes many LGBTQ people feel unsafe, even if it isn’t meant that way.|
|"But you don’t act gay."||All gay men are feminine. There is a certain “right” way gay men should act and look.||Gay men can be masculine, feminine, both or neither.|
Microaggressions against bisexuals often come from thinking that bisexuality isn’t real. Bisexuals regularly feel invisible and unwelcome in straight and lesbian and gay communities.
Here are some examples:
|"You’re dating a guy now? Then you’re definitely gay."|
"Maybe you haven’t figured it out yet?"
"Pick a side already!"
"So, are you like, 75% straight and 25% gay?"
|People can either be gay or straight, nothing else.|
Bisexuality is a phase or state of confusion on the way to becoming gay or straight.
|Bisexuals are not confused about their sexuality. |
Bisexuals aren’t part gay and part straight, they’re their own identity.
Bisexuality is a valid identity. Sexual orientation can shift over time, but not for everyone.
Bisexuality isn’t a phase for many.
|"Do you just, like, sleep with everyone?"|
"Bisexuals are greedy."
|Bisexual identities are about sex only.|
There is something wrong with really liking sex. (This is called sex-negativity.)
|Bisexual people may be attracted to a lot of people, a few people, just one at a time, or sometimes nobody at all. Sex is great whether you want a little, a lot or none of it, with a lot of genders or with just one.|
|"Bi folks cheat on their partners."||To be fulfilled, bisexual people need to be sexually involved with people of more than one gender at all times and so they can't be monogamous.||If folks want to be consensually non-monogamous, that’s great, but not all bisexuals are non-monogamous. |
Bisexuals can be awesomely slutty or awesomely celibate or anywhere in between, just like gay and straight folks.
People of any sexual identity may cheat on a partner.
Microaggressions against trans people often reinforce the gender binary or the idea that there are only two genders, men and women.
"I can’t keep track of all your pronouns!"
"If you go by ‘they’, then I’m going by ‘Spiderman’, lol."
|Trans people think they are special and entitled to create their own language.|
It’s not worth the effort to learn new ways to use language that are respectful of trans people.
If I don’t share an experience that trans people have, then those experiences aren’t valid.
|People have always used ‘they’ when referring to one person.|
Learning new terminology can take time and is important to allyship.
You don’t have to understand someone’s experience to respect it.
"Have you had the surgery?"
"How do you have sex?"
"When are you going on hormones?"
"Do you have a penis or vulva?"
|If you’re trans, then you have to medically transition.|
It’s fine to ask trans people invasive questions that no one would ask a cis person.
All trans people want and have access to gender- affirming surgeries or hormones.
There is only one type of surgery.
|Not all trans people medically transition.|
Asking what’s in someone’s pants is rude and invasive.
There are many different kinds of gender affirming surgeries and procedures available to trans people who can afford them and want them.
"What’s your real name?"
"You were so cute as a little boy."
"So you're trans? Did that mean you were born a boy or a girl?"
|A person’s sex assigned at birth is more real than their current authentic gender.|
It's okay to grieve a trans person's gender identity that was assigned to them at birth in front of them.
|Who a trans person is now is their real self.|
How a trans person identifies now is their real self.
No one is born a boy or a girl. We can consensually determine our gender identities when we are older.
While it can be challenging to support a friend through transition, it isn’t okay for you to make it about your grief.
|"You’re really beautiful—for a trans woman."|
"Wow, I would have never known you used to be a woman."
"Let me help you with your makeup, you probably don’t know how to do it properly."
|Trans people’s ability to pass as cisgender determines their worth or success as a trans person.|
Trans people can never be as attractive as cis people.
Trans people want to look like cis people.
There is something fake about trans people’s genders.
Cis people are the authority on whether or not trans people have authentic genders.
|Gender identity has nothing to do with being able to pass as a certain gender. You can be a real woman with a beard* or a real man with breasts*. What makes someone a real woman or man is if they tell you that’s who they are.
Trans people’s genders can be binary or non-binary, and this isn’t related to wanting to be like cis people.
Trans people are the authority on their own genders.
Trans men are men and trans women are women.
|*Gawking at someone with a genderqueer presentation.*||Staring will help you figure out someone’s gender identity.|
It is important to know a stranger's gender identit.
|Staring at trans or genderqueer people, even in a friendly way, can be scary for trans and genderqueer people because transphobic cis people can be violent toward them.|
You don’t need to know if someone is trans or not.
Impacts of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia
On top of discrimination and microaggressions, LGBTQ youth face many other serious and even life-threatening challenges:
- LGBTQ youth don’t feel as safe at school.
- Almost 50% of LGBTQ youth surveyed in Canada said they felt didn’t belong at school compared to only 3.5% of straight and cis youth.
- LGBTQ youth are bullied at a higher rate and are more likely to drop out of school.
- Sexual health education usually doesn’t focus on LGBTQ identities, or relationships.
- LGBTQ youth often lose family support and sometimes housing. ¼ of Canadian homeless youth are thought to be LGBTQ-identified.
"As I began discovering my sexual orientation, high school became a time of major insecurity. My family was always important to me and when I gained confidence in myself I decided to begin telling them one by one.
I wanted to start with my brothers so that they could help me tell my parents, but when I came out to my older brother he said: “I think you should come back to me when you’re 19, just to be sure.” This made me feel like my feelings weren’t valid, and only made me question myself even more. Funny enough, I did come back to him when I turned 19 to remind him that I was still gay, but I really wish he had taken my word for it then. I’ve always known who I am." – Andrea B.
- LGBTQ youth have less access to income. 50% of trans people surveyed in Ontario live on less than $15,000/year.
- LGBTQ youth experience many challenges around health care.
- They have less access and are less likely to get preventative care for fear of stigma and mistreatment.
- Trans and non-binary people may have to jump through hoops if their names don’t match their ID, or their genders aren’t listed as options on basic forms.
- Gay and bisexual men are restricted from donating blood in Canada, due to HIV stigma and homophobia.
- LGBTQ youth experience increased violence, including hate crimes.
- LGBTQ youth have lower self-esteem and higher rates of mental health issues.
- 33% of Canadian LGBQ youth attempt suicide compared to 7% of youth in general. For trans youth, it’s just under 50%.
- LGBTQ youth have twice the rates of substance use and post traumatic stress disorder than cis and/or straight youth.
- Bisexuals experience stigma from both lesbian/gay communities and straight communities, and so experience higher rates of mental health issues than lesbians and gays
* Not everyone uses these words for their bodies. It's important to respect the language that people use for their own parts!
- Homophobia, biphobia and transphobia go beyond discrimination and physical acts of violence. Microaggressions, or off-hand comments or non-verbal gestures based in stereotypes, can wear you down when they happen a lot.
- Some examples of microaggressions: Asking a queer woman how she has sex, assuming that all gay men want to have sex with straight men, avoiding dates with bisexual people because you fear they may cheat on you, asking a trans person what their real name is.
- The best way for allies to combat microaggressions is to understand the faulty assumptions behind them.
- Discrimination really harms LGBTQ people. They have higher rates of suicide attempts, homelessness, bullying, mental health issues and more.
- How is saying “that’s so gay,” homophobic? Isn’t that just how everyone talks?
- What about freedom of speech? Social justice warriors can be too sensitive, and take all of this language stuff way too seriously.
- What about self love? Trans people are oversensitive about transphobia and microaggressions and just need to love themselves more. They have to forget about what other people say.