Posted on May 12 2019
IDAHOBIT means International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia & Transphobia. It is hard to believe, but it wasn’t until 1987 that homosexuality was taken out of the DSM 111-R (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) having previously been categorized as a ‘diagnosis’. On May 17th, 1990, the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases, no longer categorizing it as an illness. Because of this progression in gay liberation, IDAHOBIT day is celebrated on May 17th annually.
In 2004, IDAHOBIT day was celebrated globally for the first time, addressing behaviors and raising awareness about Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia and Transphobia in society. As LGBTIQ communities are still a minority group, the challenge continues to educate wider communities where appropriate, by bringing awareness through days such as IDAHOBIT day. By deconstructing or destabilizing sex and gender we can expand the ways in which sexual orientation is understood, in hopes of normalizing expressions of LGBTIQ self and sexuality.
Hetero sexism is when people have an underlying assumption or belief that heterosexuality is normal or preferable. Biphobia, transphobia, homophobia and interphobia are antisocial behaviors such as verbal or physical abuse, cyber bullying, mocking or taunting behaviors, whether they happen in public, at home, at work or at school.
Some first-hand examples:
Hugh, a 24-year-old school teacher explains that during class he had one student mock him. “When I did my teaching round, I played Kahoot! with my year 9 class. One student put his nickname as “theteacherisgay.” Another example from Hugh: “I had a job interview once and didn't get the job. The feedback was that I over-dressed for a guy.”
Especially as a teenager, I felt very affected by compulsory heterosexuality. I was a teen model, and the modelling industry holds a very capitalistic and heterosexual male gaze, meaning that by the way I looked there were assumptions about my sexuality, leaning more towards straight. I have been offended by some of the comments made by friends or family about my current same-sex relationship. I suspect my mother hopes that soon I will move on from this ‘phase’. When I complained about weight gain and having to buy new bras, a friend commented, “Well at least if you turn straight again, the guys will really like it”. Comments like this are not vindictive, instead more likely they hold intrinsic hetero normative ways of thinking, but in an oblivious way.
Bullying doesn’t only come from a hetero normative outlook, but can come from people who identify as LGBTIQ in some cases. For example, Greta, who identifies as a non-transitioning cross dresser, has experienced bullying from a transgender person. Greta explains:
“The most abusive situation was from a transgendered woman. Never to this day have I seen anyone go out of their way to express such hatred; the divide between transsexual and non-transitioning is an ugly story experienced by many.” Greta adds, “Many trans women are of beautiful soul so you cannot generalize.” In this example, categorization was displayed by a transgender person, a type of black and white thinking which in the end, separates and divides communities.
Reducing stigma by bringing awareness about gender and sexuality attempts to normalize the unique spectrum of people in the world, however don’t expect everyone to possess your level of language, interest or knowledge, because there could be generational or cultural differences. So, if people ask you questions in a respectful way, you could try to educate them by letting them know your experience.
As Nina Simone said: ““Life is short. People are not easy to know. They're not easy to know, so if you don't tell them how you feel, you're not going to get anywhere, I feel.”
If you feel passionate and care about these topics, please participate in IDAHOBIT day on May 17th to help break stigmas around gender and sexuality, and to show the colorful spectrum LGBTIQ people offer all over world, without the shame.
You could wear a rainbow or hand them out at work or school or you could organise an event through your school or workplace, which can take place on any day of the year. Visit www.idahobit.org.au for more information.
Written by Joanna Hannan
Joanna Hannan is a student studying a Bachelor of Arts Majoring in Gender.