Dealing with self-harm while being queer can be challenging. For many people with depression and anxiety, the only way out of the pain is through self-harm. This is especially true for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ). The connection between people who identify as LGBTQ and who self harm is alarming, but not surprising. When we are surrounded by a society that is not LGBTQ-friendly, it is easy to see why so many queer people choose to escape the emotional torment through self-harm. Here are some tips on dealing with self-harm when you're queer.
The Life: LGBT
You might not know it, but biphobia -- prejudice against bisexuals -- has harmful effects on mental health. If you identify as bisexual or pansexual, chances are you've had your sexuality questioned or confronted in some way. More than likely, you have experienced biphobia even from friends and family and this biphobia might harm your mental health. It can be an innocent sounding question such as: "How can you be in a committed relationship if you're bisexual?" or "Are you sure you don't want to be with someone from the same sex as well?" These kinds of ignorant questions reflect the biphobic society that we live in. It delivers the toxic message that our sexuality is not valid and reinforces the belief that we must choose between being straight or gay.
There are similarities between panseuxality and bisexual which really came to my attention after a previous post I wrote about the differences between pansexuality and bisexuality garnered some debate and even anger from bisexuals. Some bisexuals have stated that my post was wrong and even rude. Perhaps I did not clarify my views on the issue clearly because I do not hold any disregard toward bisexuals, especially since I used to identify as one for a very long time. I hope this post helps to explain my views on sexuality, the complications of labeling oneself and the similarities between pansexuality and bisexuality.
No one likes to be rejected. Unfortunately, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) people experience a lot of rejection and oppression that lead to depression and other mental illnesses. As a pansexual, I have experienced my fair share of biphobia and homophobia in the past. While it certainly isn’t easy or fun to talk about, raising awareness is the only way of abolishing discrimination towards the LGBTQ community and reduce the rejection queer people face and their depressions.
I find myself in a paradox lately. I have always been extremely accepting of others who are different, especially those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ). But it's been extremely hard for me to accept that I am genderqueer. While this is common with people who suffer from mental illnesses, it is a huge problem with LGBTQ individuals. LGBTQ people have a much harder time with self-acceptance thanks to a hostile environment that does not accept their sexuality and gender identity. In short, gender dysphoria affects my depression.
Dealing with depression and other mental illnesses is very hard. But when an individual identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ), the struggle can become alienating. Many LGBTQ individuals find themselves disconnected between their true identity and the person they are forced to be in public. This is why many LGBTQ people have depression and contemplate suicide. Being genderqueer, too, can lead to depression. Sadly, many go through with suicide because they see no better option.
For the past few months, I have struggled to accept my gender identity and the fact that I am genderqueer. I've been having a hard time trying to label my gender identity, especially since our society puts only two labels to gender: man or woman. Thanks to the social websites like Tumblr, though, I am starting to see that there are other people just like me out there.
How can you love yourself and have self-acceptance and yet deny part of your true identity? Is such a feat even possible? This is a problem that is common among many people within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community (LGBTQ). Unfortunately, many LGBTQ individuals cannot come out due to safety reasons. If they were to come out as gay or transgender, they risk the scary chance of getting kicked out and ending up on the streets. They can even lose their jobs. So while the world proudly declares that we must be unashamed of our true selves, society’s reaction toward many LGBTQ people is a contradiction. And it has very negative effects on the mental health of LGBTQ individuals. A lack of self-acceptance can even worsen depression in LGBTQ individuals.
Have you ever tried being something that you’re not? I think it’s safe to say that all of us have gone through this at some point in our lives. It makes us feel as if we are a fake, and that we’re being untrue to ourselves. It may also lead to deep depression and low self-esteem, especially when it comes to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ) individuals. Those who identify as LGBTQ have a higher chance of self-harm, substance abuse, and eating disorders, for example, which are all linked to depression.
Have you ever heard someone say: “It doesn’t matter what your sexuality or gender is! Why label yourself?” Didn’t it feel uncomfortable and kind of, well, wrong? While I do see the implied positivity in those words, I can’t help but frown at the mere mention of them. As someone who identifies as pansexual, I find it offensive. Usually, people who are not lesbian, gay, bisexual, or questioning (LGBTQ) would say something like this. Most often, they are people who are straight or cisgender (someone whose sex matches their gender). Personally, I believe that identifying as LGBTQ is extremely important because it makes us visible rather than invisible. When we decide to come out of the shadows and embrace our true identity, it often has a positive, rewarding effect on our mental health.