The search for approval from others is rather common in most human beings. For instance, I want to be accepted by my friends to build a strong bond with them. Being accepted into our family, among our friends, co-workers, etc has become a necessity for an individual.
Of all the gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, and other employees who identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ community surveyed in the 2013 Deloitte study, 83% admitted to changing a few aspects of themselves to not appear “too gay”. This proves our human tendency to seek approval. To seek acceptance.
But we have to ask, Why change ourselves to do so? Why does one feel too insecure to portray themselves as who they are?
In this TED talk, Morganna Bailey, a human resources activist, walked up on the TED stage and revealed to everyone that she was a lesbian. This was a great matter which she hid from the world and herself for 16 years.
16 years! That’s how long it took for her to realize who she was and accept herself. In the video, she talks about how she isolated herself from her friends and family for this specific reason.
Social isolation is certainly horrific, as studies depict that social isolation is generally linked with increased risk for mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. Not only social isolation, but a recent study also found that 71% of the LGBTQ+ community struggle with anxiety and PTSD disorder as well. On top of that, 40% of transgender individuals have attempted suicide in their lifetime.
Forget about society. Many of these individuals have not consulted health care providers because they were afraid. Afraid of what? They were afraid of mistreatment, disrespect, and discrimination. According to a Rainbow Health survey, 10% of those needing treatment postponed care or didn’t get it at all due to discrimination or disrespect from the healthcare providers.
Although the numbers may seem disappointing, they can still be changed. We can support LGBTQ individuals and play a role in the betterment of their healthcare.
You can start by simply listening. Active listening may help you in understanding their current situation. You may not be able to solve their problems for them, but this may help them reduce anxiety or stress. Such a simple act of listening may bring them huge relief. However, it is also important that you show respect and acceptance by the way you speak, and if you make a mistake, simply apologize and move on.
To do so, educate yourself. For example, ask about their preferred pronouns. Such a simple act can help you in becoming a better individual and having an impact on society. This is how you make a difference!