LGBTIQA Pride Month: Top 3 Issues Faced By The Young Sexual Minority Groups
The news of IPC 377 was welcomed under the garb that now being a member of the sexual minorities is legal and their fundamental and constitutional rights are in place.Few knew that it is not the case, now only the members of the sexual minority community won’t be booked under IPC 377 for their sexual act with a consenting adult partner in their private space. As far as acceptance is concerned, there is a long battle to be fought until we see acceptance on all fronts of the society, culture, families, and to some extent also oneself.
Being identified as LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer, Intersex, Asexual) comes with a lot of other baggage that can break the spine of one’s morale and perception towards life. There have been several incidences of suicide and severe mental health concerns among the youth of the LGBTQIA community.
Here are the top 3 issues faced by the young sexual minority groups that give rise to mental health risks:
- Acceptance: The issue of acceptance tops the list as this holds many layers of understanding about alternate sexuality. Acceptance from the family and friends, workplace and employer, and oneself are difficult to achieve.
Unless one is comfortable with one’s own self there is constant self-doubt, and dilemma which shatters one’s self-image. It is unlikely they would want to communicate about their fears to anyone unless they feel comfortable with them, at least to an extent. Non-acceptance from the family, friends, and colleagues leads to further issues like being ashamed, isolation, being under constant observance, attempts to correct one's sexuality by means of medications, therapy or religious rituals. In such cases, we have seen that the individual shows signs of anxiety, severe depression, aggression, suicidal ideation or attempts and self-image concerns. If there is scope to have a fair conversation with LGBTQIA individuals, it can save a lot of damage to the personality of the person.
2. Coming Out: Coming out to family, friends and other related individuals remains one of the most significant and difficult tasks in the lives of the sexual minorities. This happens only when they have made peace with themselves about their sexuality.
Many young people struggle with these questions:
Mostly, they come out when they undergo pressure for marriage, or if they have a partner they want to introduce their families to or because they feel responsible to discuss this important facet of their lives with their near ones. This is a very tough decision and has a lifelong consequential value that comes with a lot of stress, anxiety, difficulty in decision making and severe depression.
At this stage, one may not have suicidal ideation as one has come a long way and is now prepared to deal with the consequences anyway, and most of them are hopeful of acceptance at least on one front. Generally, individuals prefer coming out first to their families and then their friends. There have been instances where mostly the mothers of the LGBTQIA person has said that they somehow knew during the growing-age of their child that he was different than the rest of the children. Also, friends have reported that they had somehow guessed it before they were spoken to. The scenario can be different in cases when the sexuality of the person is revealed by some other individual to their families or friends or due to other medical reasons i.e. HIV or STD, it is disclosed to the family, friend or spouse. As this disclosure comes as a shock, it can have a traumatic psychological impact on that individual and this may lead to suicide attempts or non-suicidal self-injuries to gain acceptance.
- Finding a partner: It’s a definite reason that leads to mental health concerns among the youth of the LGBTQIA. They find it difficult to find a partner they can trust their lives with. It is very difficult to find a partner who shares a similar perspective on life with them. There are few who would want to be in a committed relationship and stay with a single partner, even when they are aware that this relation holds no water in the eye of the law or society. Then there are individuals who believe in an open relationship. There are some who are into multiple partners and short-term commitments or only interested in sexual gratification with the partner. This brings in a lot of uncertainty, animosity and lack of decision-making skills, self-doubt (that they are worthy of belonging to any one person), depression (due to heartbreaks), and suicidal ideation. Mental health issues are grave in case they are married forcefully or willingly, sense of cheating someone, worthlessness, being trapped in an unwanted relationship and leading a dual life can invite a lot of stress, fear, depression, and low self-esteem.
The decision of transitioning from one gender to another
Specific to the Trans community the process of Transitioning comes with multiple folds of mental trauma and psychological changes within them. The decision of transitioning from one gender to another is an irreversible medical procedure and has a lifelong impact. Making this decision in itself needs a lot of mental preparation and strength. As this change has social, physical, and psychological connotations that play a major role in the lives of the individual from there on. This also brings in a financial burden which not everyone can afford. Hence, it leads to debts. Classically, this change shows a sense of being in one’s element after the reassignment surgery, but the psychological trauma until then is deadly. Therefore, it is mandatory to have a psychological evaluation done prior to sexual reassignment surgery.
Pharmacological Intervention and Psychotherapy are key to dealing with most of the concerns that we can list down, but most of the young people are oblivious to this. Besides, these concerns are just the tip of the iceberg; there is much more hidden underneath, that needs to be dealt with sensitively.
Hemangi Mhaprolkar is Psychologist and Outreach Associate at Mpower – The Centre, Mumbai.