Recent statistics showcase a long standing trend — LGBT people are still four times more likely to experience violence in their life than their straight counterparts. FBI data from 2019 illustrates a rise in anti-LGBTQIA+ hate crimes, including higher rates of police brutality.
LGBTQIA+ people frequently face threats, harassment, and violence online, and regularly see comments that deny their humanity and right to exist.
People of color face discrimination from within the LGBTQIA+ community. Narratives and positions of power are often monopolized by white middle and upper class members of the community, resulting in discrimination in representation. LGBTQIA+ people of color face heightened bigotry at the intersection of their race and their queerness by society at large.
A record-breaking number of murders against trans people occurred in 2020 — the majority of whom were women of color. The risk of sexual violence is also increased for trans people; 50% of transgender people have been sexually assaulted at least once in their life. Transgender victims of sex trafficking were more likely to be criminalized by law enforcement than offered victim services. Transgender people are seven times more likely to be victims of police brutality than cisgender people. White trans people are also twice as likely to be unemployed as a result of discrimination, with trans people of color being four times more likely. When trans people are employed, harassment is common: Ninety percent of transgender people have experienced harassment, mistreatment or discrimination at their jobs, while 53% of transgender people have been harassed at a public place, like a bathroom.
Sexual Assault and Harassment
Forty-four percent of lesbian women have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime, while 26% of gay men have as well (that number increases to 37% for bisexual men). Bisexual women, trans women, and women of color experience higher risks. 70% of LGBTQIA+ members of the community have been sexually harassed at work, and 66% were afraid to tell their employer for fear of being outed.
Members of the LGBTQIA+ community are more likely to experience poverty than their straight counterparts. This is tied to higher rates of employment discrimination, housing discrimination, and denial of adequate health services — made even worse amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mental Health & Suicide
Due to the stress and threat of discrimination, LGBTQIA+ individuals are twice as likely to experience mental health issues in their life, and have more than double the rate of depression than the heterosexual population. Suicide is a leading cause of death for LGBTQIA+ people ages 10-24, and across their lifespan, LGBTQIA+ people attempt suicide at a disproportionate rate. LGBTQIA+ youth are more than five times more likely to die by suicide than their heterosexual peers.
Across the board, LGBTQIA+ individuals faced more barriers to accessing aid and care — particularly for transgender people of color and Black men who identify as gay. Forty-eight percent of LGBTQ youths reported engaging in self-harm each year, including over 60% of transgender and nonbinary youths.
The Denial of Inclusive Identities
There is still a great deal of exclusion that occurs in the LGBTQIA+ community. Trans-exclusionary feminists deny transgender women the right to identify themselves as women, and believe they should not be allowed to access women’s restrooms or participate in sports. Bisexual individuals often face discrimination within the community when individuals see them as straight or “not queer enough”, or are thought to be confused and not truly a member of the community. This is similar for asexual individuals, who are regularly met with disbelief from others about the nature of their identity or dismissed as “confused.”’ Individuals who identify in the + category, such as pansexual, demisexual, sapiosexual, etc., are often mocked for their sexual orientation as well. Conversion therapy, which attempts to “cure” people with prayer, electric shocks, or other painful and abusive methods, has been historically used against members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and is still a practice used in the United States.
Trauma and Familial Conflict
LGBTQIA+ individuals experience trauma at a higher rate than their heteronormative counterparts. Forty-six percent of homeless LGBTQIA+ youth ran away because of they were disowned by their family due to their sexual orientation or gender identity; 43% were kicked out of the house by their parents; and 32% faced physical, emotional, or sexual abuse at home. LGBTQIA+ adults face regular institutional discrimination when attempting to adopt a child and unequal access to health care when married, or when denied the right to marry.
Isolation and Hostility
Forty-two percent of LGBT people report living in an unwelcoming environment in the USA and face potential hostility when traveling abroad. In a 2014 survey, 97% of gay and bi men and 99% of lesbians chose discrimination as their greatest concern when travelling. Twenty-one percent of transgender travelers reported anxiety about air travel due to intrusive security checks, identification or misnaming/misgendering, and general discrimination, while 45% of travelers feared being physically or verbally abused or harassed due to being transgender.
More than 50% of LGBTQ workers reported to having hide the nature of their personal relationships or romantic partnerships out of fear of hostility at work, while approximately one-fourth altered aspects of their personal or work lives in an attempt to avoid discrimination. Research shows a higher rate of loneliness among LGBT people as well.
Lack of diverse and inclusive accurate depictions of LGBTQIA+ people in media and popular culture is both common and harmful. Even when included in media, LGBTQ people are overwhelmingly viewed in terms of hyper-stereotypical depictions, and are rarely main characters but frequently villains. LGBT characters were more likely to die or face unfavorable outcomes, most notably lesbian women. The vast majority of LGBT media depictions are of white characters. Mainstream depictions of the queer community overwhelmingly rely on depictions of metronormativity (urbanites living within upper class means) while LGBTQIA+ people living in rural communities are virtually absent, with the exception of being depicted of victims of hate crimes. LGBTQ people are also disproportionately depicted as oversexualized.
Queerbaiting is also a common occurrence in media, in which content creators hint or elude to non-heteronormative relationships but never actually depict or confirm them. Queer erasure has been practiced throughout most of history, and continues in various domains such as literature and culture.
LGBTQIA+ individuals still remain largely underrepresented in various spaces and career fields — particularly in STEM, politics, and religious communities.
LGBTQIA+ people are continuously burdened to undertake immense emotional and literal labor in service to educating others, or in intervening upon the aforementioned disparities. There is also a disproportionate expectation to make others “feel okay” in their presence or in social situations. Society often has the unjust assumption that LGBTQIA+ people are obligated to educate others on social issues, or that it’s okay to overask questions about their sexuality or gender identity. Thirty-three percent of transgender patients reported that they had to teach their doctor about transgender issues in order to receive appropriate care.
LGBTQIA+ people are also overburdened in doing the work of whistleblowing, activism, LGBTQIA+ scholarship, and in ensuring inclusive spaces for the community at large.
In addition to the lived realities, the awareness of the above statistics is extremely taxing on LGBTQIA+ individuals. Having to see an article about a homophobia-motivated murder or see transphobic comments in a popular film can be hugely triggering and traumatizing. There is also a heavier burden to find and access limited avenues of care.
For information on LGBTQIA+ Resources, see:
Intersections of LGBTQ Issues and Racial Justice Resource List
Sexual Violence & Transgender/Non-Binary Communities Infographic