Recognizing the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia

May 17 is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia. Established in 2004, the day affirms the right of all members of 2SLGBTQ+ communities to live freely as themselves in all countries and in all spheres—at school, at work, in broader society, and at home. Its date commemorates May 17, 1990, when the World Health Organization (WHO) removed homosexuality from a list of mental health disorders in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD).

The WHO’s decision more than 30 years ago strengthened efforts to destigmatize 2SLGBTQ+ communities and increase access to healthcare and social supports for 2SLGBTQ+ individuals around the world. In the decades since, progress has been made to protect the rights of 2SLGBTQ+ individuals in Canada and abroad, to promote education and awareness, and to build allyship. Yet this work is far from over. Over 60 countries still criminalize same-sex relationships. And from 2020 to 2021, Canada experienced a 64% rise in hate crimes targeting sexual orientation—a statistic that captures only those incidents reported to police.

The University of Toronto condemns all manifestations of homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia on our campuses and in our larger society. We reinforce this position and these values through ongoing work to ensure our policies, practices, and activities support and affirm 2SLGBTQ+ members of our community. In the 2022-23 year, this includes introducing health coverage for gender affirming care for a large number of employees. We will continue to make positive changes on our campuses in consultation with 2SLGBTQ+ students, faculty, librarians, and staff.

This year’s theme for the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia is “Together always: united in diversity.” In this spirit, I invite all students, staff, faculty, and librarians to embrace the celebration and advocacy around 2SLGBTQ+ rights this day inspires while recognizing how much diversity shapes and benefits who we are as a university. The richness of our learning and working environments depends on it. We innovate because of it. And we succeed when everyone in our community can contribute in ways that feel true to themselves and that draw upon the full breadth and depth of their talent.

Resources

All About Pronouns: What is gender identity and gender expression, and why do pronouns matter?

2SLGBTQ+ Terms: Foundational understandings of language and concepts in relation to identity and sexual and gender diversity. Terms can mean different things to different people. This resource is an entry point to offer some common language.

U of T Identification: How to change your name, get a new email, and other important resources.

Washrooms: Find a single user or all-gender washroom on your campus.

Workshops & Training: The Sexual & Gender Diversity Office offers educational opportunities for the U of T community to learn about sexual and gender diversity, including custom workshops. In the coming weeks, a recording of the IDAHOTB 2022 conversation, “Our Bodies. Our Lives. Our Rights. Featuring Keith McCrady and Monica Forrester” will also be available on the SGDO website.


Beyond U of T, the following local resources are available for members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community:

The 519
The 519 is committed to the health, happiness, and full participation of LGBTQ2S communities. A City of Toronto agency with an innovative model of Service, Space, and Leadership, they strive to make a real difference in people’s lives, while working to promote inclusion, understanding, and respect.

LGBT Youthline
LGBT Youthline is a Queer, Trans, Two-Spirit youth-led organization that affirms and supports the experiences of youth (29 and under) across Ontario. They offer confidential, non-judgmental and informed LGBTTQQ2SI Peer Support resources.

Toronto PFlag
Toronto PFlag promotes the health and well-being of LGBTQ2S+ individuals by helping to keep families together through support and education. They host regular support groups and a Support Phone Line, among other services.