Today, May 17th, is International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT). My Reagan calendar didn’t have it listed, so I didn’t even realize there was such a day until a listener mentioned it. The name seemed pretty self-explanatory, but I did a little research to see what it was all about.
This year is the 10th anniversary of IDAHOT. On their official website, the headline reads “A Worldwide Celebration of Sexual and Gender Diversities.” Hmmm. That isn’t what the name suggests to me.
If they’re using the words as they are defined, International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia sounds more like a coalition working to cure two different types of mental illnesses rooted in fear of two different groups of people.
A “phobia” is an illness. The Mayo Clinic defines a “phobia” as “an overwhelming and unreasonable fear of an object or situation that poses little real danger but provokes anxiety and avoidance” that “can affect your ability to function normally at work or in social settings.”
But IDAHOT isn’t really concerned with the unreasonable fear of homosexuals or transgender people. What they are concerned with, and rightfully so, is the irrational hatred, abuse, and killing of those populations of people. But hatred, abuse, and killing are not fears or phobias. They’re using the wrong term. And when you’re trying to advance a cause, you really should be honest about it.
The Mayo Clinic goes on to list symptoms that typically accompany phobias. None of them involved seeking out the source of that irrational fear, let alone tormenting or killing them. In fact, phobics avoid the source of the phobia.
IDAHOT has launched the May 17 Campaign to heighten awareness. But I have to wonder why they would choose to do to others what they are criticizing others for doing to them?
One meme says, “Bisexuality is not a choice, Biphobia is.” Another says, “Lesbianism is not a phase, Lesbophobia is!” Wait just a minute! I thought a phobia was a mental illness. So now people can CHOOSE whether or not to HAVE a mental illness? And some phobias are just “a phase”? Doubtful.
Either they’re using the term “phobia” incorrectly, or they are seriously insensitive toward the mentally ill.
If you have integrity about advancing your cause, you wouldn’t use “phobia” as an insult any more than you’d want someone else to use “gay” as an insult. Pot, meet Kettle…
It’s time we call things what they really are and stop convoluting the issues with catch phrases, slogans, and name-calling that aren’t accurate. Improperly using homophobe and transphobe is LGBT equivalent to race-baiting… LGBT-baiting. It’s divisive language intended to intimidate the opposition and shut down the conversation.
I hope they find a cure for Homophobia and Transphobia, if in fact there are people suffering from this mental condition. But I think IDAHOT should probably revamp their campaign to actually address the issue they are drawing attention to, because right now, they’re missing the mark. It’s not about fear.
AUTHOR NOTE: Just to be clear… I do not have a phobia… of anything (except that disgusting, dark pipe in the floor that you only see when you remove a toilet from the house! Yes, I avoid that like The Plague!) I do NOT support hatred, harassment, torment, torture, rape, abuse, imprisonment, or killing of people simply because of their sexual or gender identification (or any other identification for that matter!) I do support proper use of the English language so that we can figure out how to come to a peaceable agreement about how to live together in diversity.