LGBTQIA+ related Microaggressions
- What does LGBTQIA+ stand for?
- Homophobia, biphobia and transphobia
- Sexual orientation and their gender identity
- Why is sexual orientation and their gender identity important?
- Direct Discrimination
- Indirect discrimination
- What do sexual orientation and gender identity microaggressions look like?
- How to recognise Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity microaggressions
- Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity related Micro Affirmative Behaviours
- Download our posters
1. What does LGBTQIA+ stand for?
This is an acronym used to group various sexual orientations and gender identities.
- Gay Bisexual
- Questioning or Queer
The&+ is an acknowledgement that there are non-cis gender and non-straight identities that are not included in the acronym. This is an umbrella term for all people who have a non-normative gender identity or sexual orientation.
You can learn more about the meaning of the terms described here.
Language used to talk about LGBTQIA+ people is constantly evolving; you may have also seen variations of this acronym such as LGBT and LGBTQ+
The reason why the acronym grows and changes is that people are increasingly finding new ways to articulate their experiences and find communities of people who have had similar experiences. Language is constantly evolving in all areas of our lives as we adapt it to our current lives.
We will be using terminology that may be new to you, for more information, read this glossary of LGBTQIA+ terms for definitions.
2. Homophobia, biphobia and transphobia
LGBTQIA+ microaggressions are a form of discrimination, homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. These terms are used to describe the fear or dislike of someone based on prejudice or negative attitudes, beliefs or views about people who are or are perceived to be lesbian, gay, queer, trans, bisexual or asexual.
Seemingly innocent transgressions are known as microaggressions and can be intentional or unintentional comments or actions directed against a person who is usually part of a marginalised group, that signal disrespect and inequality.
3. Sexual orientation and their gender identity
This reference will be considering discrimination because of someone’s sexual orientation and their gender identity.
It is important to note that an individual’s sexual orientation and their gender identity are two different things
Sexual orientation is also known as sexuality. An individual’s sexual orientation depends on whether they’re sexually and/or romantically attracted to:
- Their own gender – this means gay and lesbian people
- Another gender – this means heterosexual people
- The same and another gender – this means bisexual people.
Gender identity is a person’s innate sense of their own gender, whether male, female or something else, which may or may not correspond to the sex assigned at birth.
In this resource, we will use the following definitions:
Sex is what we are assigned at birth.
Gender identity refers to a person’s deep held sense of their gender and how they identify in terms of gender expression.
4. Why is sexual orientation and their gender identity important?
More than a third of LGBT staff have hidden or disguised that they are LGBT at work because they were afraid of discrimination.
can put an LGBTQIA+ person in a position where they have to ‘come out
or correct someone’ regarding their sexuality or gender identity, which can be
uncomfortable. It can also be a source
of anxiety if they don’t know what reception sharing this information
Research shows that LGBTQIA+ people are less likely to be valued in the
workplace and less likely to be seen as professional, and more likely to
experience barriers to career progression. It is, therefore, a common
experience for LGBTQIA+ people to feel belittled
There are four main types of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Direct discrimination refers to situations where someone is treated less favourably than someone else because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, or the sexual orientation or gender identity of someone they’re close to. This may include a friend, relative or colleague.
Direct discrimination can be measured by comparing the situations of two employees. These employees should be in comparable situations except that one is lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans and the other is not.
- At a job interview, a female applicant refers to their girlfriend. Despite being the best candidate, they’re not offered the job
- You inform your employer that you intend to transition to a gender other than the gender you were assigned at birth; your employer transfers you off your role against your wishes because they don’t want you to have client contact.
It is indirect discrimination to have a rule, a policy or practice which places someone of a particular sexual orientation or gender identity at a particular disadvantage.
For example, a local health authority decides that it will not fund breast implants. As a result, the health authority refuses to provide this treatment for a woman undergoing gender reassignment even though she considers it essential to make her look more feminine. The same policy is applied to all women but puts transwomen at a greater disadvantage. The health authority may be able to justify its policy if it can prove that it has legitimate reasons
Harassment in the workplace occurs when someone makes you feel humiliated, offended or degraded.
- Colleagues keep greeting a male worker by the feminine version of his name, although he has asked them to use his proper name. The colleagues say this is just banter, but the individual is upset and offended
- A transgender woman has introduced their pronouns as she/they, but her team continue to refer to her as he or him.
This is when you’re treated badly because you have made a compliant about sexual orientation or gender identity related discrimination. It can also occur if you’re supporting someone who has made a complaint of sexual orientation or gender identity related discrimination.
Discrimination against someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity can potentially happen at:
- Recruitment and selection
- Training, pay and benefits
- Redundancy and Dismissal
- Terms and conditions of work.
An example of this can include:
- An employer allows a man whose female partner is pregnant to take annual leave so that he can go to ante-natal appointments with her. The employer refuses a similar request from a woman whose female partner is pregnant. This is likely to be direct discrimination because of sexual orientation.
- Not allowing an individual undergoing transgender surgery to attend appointments the same as someone who would be attending an appointment for a long-term condition.