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Celebrating Pride month 2023 with the launch of the LGBTQ+ Special Interest Group (SIG).
LGBTQ+ is an acronym which stands for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and queer or questioning. The “plus” represents other sexual and gender identities such as pansexual or asexual. The commonality is that those who identify as LGBTQ+ don’t identify as straight and/or cisgender (the gender they were assigned at birth).
The Women’s Equality and Gender Diversity SIG was formed in 2018 and continues to play a fantastic role in increasing awareness and diversity within the BABCP and the CBT community in the UK. The LGBTQ+ SIG will work closely alongside the Women's Equality and Gender Diversity SIG.
I created the LGBTQ+ SIG as a space where those who identify as LGBTQ+ therapists could share their experiences and to improve the therapeutic experience of those from the LGBTQ+ community. Our SIG exists to consider the experiences, discrimination, and assumptions members of the LGBTQ+ community, whether they be patients or clinicians, may face. Society is very much cisnormative and heteronormative, with many often struggling to see outside of binaries. This SIG allows members to consider and develop their therapeutic skills ensuring that those from the LGBTQ+ community have access to non-judgmental, affirmative therapy.
It is also open to allies who are passionate about improving the therapy experience and the working environment of those from the LGBTQ+ community.
There is a growing evidence base within Britain’s mental health research that shows that LGBTQ+ people are at higher risk of developing common mental health problems yet can often have negative experiences and poorer treatment outcomes when accessing mental health support such as talking therapies (Morris et al., 2022; Foy et al., 2019). There is also evidence that, post pandemic, those from the community are experiencing poorer mental health and an increase in social isolation (The National LGBT Partnership, 2023). Preliminary research has also shown that LGBQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, or queer) people may benefit from specific LGBQ group therapy (Hambrook et al., 2022). This again shows the importance of the newly formed LGBTQ+ SIG.
Today, there appears to be an ever-brighter spotlight on those who identify as transgender or non-binary. Often labelled as the ‘trans debate’ it can sometimes be forgotten that there are real people, with real lived experienced at the heart of this issue, some of whom may be those that come to us seeking therapy or who are members of the BABCP themselves. This shows a need for an inclusive and diverse LGBTQ+ SIG where we can have open conversations to educate and share our knowledge and experience with others.
It’s worth noting that being trans or non-binary is not new. There are many examples of this, for instance some Native American tribes have historically recognised third gender roles and today in Samoa fa’afafines and fa’afatamas continue to be widely regarded as third and fourth genders alongside male and female, something which has been the case for thousands of years. In the UK, it was the 1950s when Michael Dillon and Roberta Cowell underwent the first medical transition.
Every year, the month of June marks a month long, worldwide, celebration of the LGBTQ+ community. Pride month is about equality, acceptance and celebrating the achievements of LGBTQ+ people. It is also an opportunity for education around LGBTQ+ history and raising awareness of issues that affect the LGBTQ+ community around the world today. It also calls for people to remember how damaging homophobia and transphobia has been and still can be.
From a global perspective, as I was writing this article, the Ugandan government passed a further harsh anti-LGBTQ+ law which rules that anyone found to be ‘committing homosexual acts’ will face life in prison. In the United States, the state of Tennessee has become the first state in the country to ban drag performances in public spaces and anywhere in the presence of someone under 18 years old. In England, reports of homophobic hate crime have increased by 41% from 2020/2021 to 21-22 statistics. Reports of transgender hate crimes have also increased by 56% over the same period (Home Office, 2021).
The above are just a few recent examples of some of the challenges members of the LGBTQ+ community can face.
June is chosen globally as Pride month as it is the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York in 1969. The Stonewall Riots began when New York City Police raided a gay club in New York. The police aggressively hauled LGBTQ+ people out of the bar sparking 6 days of riots and violent clashes with police. The riots were a catalyst for change both in the United States and around the world. As we can see it started as a protest but is now often a celebration.
What Are Pronouns? Why Do They Matter? — Pronouns.org Resources on Personal Pronouns
What are Gender Pronouns? - YouTube
Being Gay is Okay – Information and advice for gay, lesbian, bisexual and unsure under twenty-fives. (bgiok.org.uk)
Galop - the LGBT+ anti-abuse charity
Homepage - Mermaids (mermaidsuk.org.uk)
LGBT Foundation - Home
MindOut | Mental Health Charity for LGBTQ community
Switchboard LGBT+ Helpline
For NHS Staff: LGBTQIA+ Awareness - elearning for healthcare (e-lfh.org.uk)
I welcome and I look forward to meeting many of you at our first virtual meeting on Friday 7 July 2022 4-5pm via zoom and in person at the BABCP Conference in Cardiff next month. Please do come and say Hello!
Daisy is a Yorkshire based CBT therapist and former social worker who works remotely for Isle of Wight NHS Talking Therapies.
Foy, A. A. J., Morris, D., Fernandes, V., & Rimes, K. A. (2019). LGBQ+ adults’ experiences of improving access to psychological therapies and primary care counselling services: Informing clinical practice and service delivery. The Cognitive Behaviour Therapist, 12. https://doi.org/10.1017/s1754470x19000291
Hambrook, D. G., Aries, D., Benjamin, L., & Rimes, K. A. (2022). Group intervention for sexual minority adults with common mental health problems: Preliminary evaluation. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, 50(6), 575–589. https://doi.org/10.1017/s1352465822000297
Home Office, 2021. Hate crime, England and Wales, 2021 to 2022. [online] GOV.UK. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/hate-crime-england-and-wales-2021-to-2022/hate-crime-england-and-wales-2021-to-2022#further-information.
Morris, D. D., Fernandes, V., & Rimes, K. A. (2022). Sexual minority service user perspectives on Mental Health Treatment Barriers to care and service improvements. International Review of Psychiatry, 34(3–4), 230–239. https://doi.org/10.1080/09540261.2022.2051445
The National LGBT Partnership (2023). The New Normal: Life After Lockdown for LGBTQIA+ People in England. [online] Available at: https://www.consortium.lgbt/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/2023-03-09-FINAL-National-Transgender-Monument-Brief.pdf