On Tuesday, May 17, I invite all students, faculty, librarians, and staff to recognize the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOTB). Proposed in 2004 and launched the following year, IDAHOTB has gathered momentum and support worldwide. Today, it is recognized in over 130 countries, more than a quarter of which still criminalize same-sex acts.
The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia is a day to celebrate sexual and gender diversity and to condemn the discrimination, violence, and stigma that members of 2SLGBTQ+ communities continue to experience in Canada and globally. The theme for IDAHOTB 2022—Our Bodies, Our Lives, Our Rights—reminds us that everyone should have the right to live free of transphobic, homophobic, and biphobic interpersonal or structural discrimination.
On this day, we recognize our ongoing responsibility at the University of Toronto to create a community of belonging that affirms all our lives and identities. We also recognize the invaluable contributions that 2SLGBTQ+ members of the U of T community have made—and continue to make—to research and teaching; to campus life, services, and operations; and across all disciplines at this institution.
Standing collectively against homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia on May 17 is an especially meaningful act. On May 17, 1990, the World Health Organization (WHO) removed homosexuality from a list of mental health disorders in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), a publication that, according to the WHO, “provides a common language” for health professionals to “share standardized information across the world.” The WHO’s decision helped challenge social stigmas for 2SLGBTQ communities and increase access to healthcare and social supports.
The World Health Organization removed “gender identity disorder” (applied to trans people) from the ICD’s list of mental health disorders in 2019, requiring the WHO’s 194 member states to implement this change by January 1, 2022. Doing so can have profound individual and systemic impacts. It challenges a system, as Kyle Knight from Human Rights Watch observes, that “sets up someone’s very existence and identity” as “a mental health condition.”
I encourage students, staff, faculty, and librarians to engage with the many dimensions of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia by attending a virtual event on May 18 co-hosted by the Sexual & Gender Diversity Office, UTM Indigenous Centre, and the UTSC and UTM Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Offices: a conversation between Keith McCrady, Executive Director at 2-Spirited People of the 1st Nations, and Monica Forrester, founder of Trans Pride Toronto, Transitioning Together. The event provides an exceptional opportunity for us to explore what it means to respect and protect the rights of 2SLGBTQ+ individuals, both within the U of T community and globally.
These opportunities to expand our collective understanding of the diverse range of sexualities and gender identities will deepen our understanding of each other’s “existence and identity.” They will also illuminate the places where change still needs to occur to enable everyone in our community to be wholly themselves—and to meet their full potential.
Wednesday, May 18, 2022
10 am – 12 pm
Join us for a virtual discussion on the 2022 theme of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia: Our Bodies, Our Lives, Our Rights, featuring Keith McCrady, Executive Director of 2-Spirited People of the 1st Nations and Monica Forrester, founder of Trans Pride Toronto, Transitioning Together.