Health disparities between populations labelled as "sexual minorities" (either due to their sexual orentation or due to their gender identity) and the majority have been repeatedly documented in literature. The evidence suggests that the Lesbian, Gay, Bi sexual and Trans (LGBT) are disproportionately subjected to the negative social conditions that lead to health disparities. This is not really a matter of surprise since one can imagine the daunting challenge of having to grow up and remain healthy in a social and cultural milieu, where one has to constantly face unacceptance. This unacceptance could range from subtle and mild forms to overt and violent forms of rejection, isolation, verbal and physical abuse both inside and outside the house throughut their lives.
Sexual orientation refers to one's sexual identity based on the sex of those to whom one is sexually and romantically attracted to. Gender identity refers to “one’s sense of oneself as male, female, or transgender” (American Psychological Association, 2006).
The disparities in physical and mental health observed between these groups and the rest have been described using many concepts, a major one being that of "minority stress". Four types of exposures have been found to contribute to this: negative events like discrimination, the stress of expecting negative events to occur, stress related to the concealment of sexual orientation, and internalization of societal negative attitudes. Another major aspect that is discussed in literature is the role of structural social and environmental discrimination in the form of unequal legislations and unfavourable policies and that of social capital.
India is one among the countries where sexual orientation of citizens is still a matter of legal discrimination. The social conditions of existence, specific health needs, differential health vulnerabilities, health outcomes and other challenges of the LGBT population in this country is grossly under researched. There is also the need to explore the pathways through which structural discrimination or negative social environment impacts the health of these groups in the Indian context.
Our theme for the month is inequities related to sexual orientation and gender identity and we would be sharing with you learning resources and blogs relevant to the theme the whole of this month. We look forward to your inputs in the form of blogs, discussions and comments. Have a great month of learning!