LGBTQIA+ PRIDE Month & Mental Health

Language Matters

In honor of Pride Month this blog post will discuss mental health issues the LGBTQIA+ community experience. One of those is a lack of validation and affirmation.  A step LGBTQIA+ allies can take to work towards giving validation is by learning to use the correct terminology and gender affirming language.

LGBTQIA+: Acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, asexual, and intersex.  The “+” represents those who are part of the community, but  for  whom  LGBTQIA  does  not  reflect  or  capture  their identity.
SEXUAL ORIENTATION: Describes   a   person’s   physical,   romantic,   and/or emotional attraction to another person.
SEX: Classification   of   a   person   as  male   or   female.   A person’s sex is a combination of bodily characteristics including:  chromosomes,  hormones,  internal  and  external  reproductive  organs,  and  secondary  sex  characteristics.
GENDER IDENTITY: A person’s internal, deeply held sense of their gender. Gender identity is not visible to others, unlike gender expression.
CISGENDER: A  term  used  by  some  for  people  whose  gender  identity aligns with the one typically associated with the sex assigned to them.
GENDER NON-CONFORMING: A   term   used   to   describe   some   people   whose   gender  expression  is  different  from  conventional  expectations   of   masculinity   and   femininity.   Not   all   gender   non-conforming   people   identify   as   transgender.
IDENTITY AFFIRMING LANGUAGE: The language used to refer to a person that affirms their gender identity, including their preferred name and pronouns.
TRANSGENDER: An  umbrella  term  for  people  whose  gender  identity  and/or  gender  expression  differs  from  what  is  typically  associated with the sex they were assigned at birth.

Tragically, because of a lack of support and respect many LGBTQIA+ people experience from family members, peers, and coworkers, suicide rates for the LGBTQIA+ community are significantly higher than those of heterosexual people, especially in Utah. This disparity comes from the increased risk factors LGBTQIA+ people experience for suicide, including mental health problems, alcohol or drug use, prejudice and discrimination, and social isolation. These risk factors can be mitigated by protective factors, such as family acceptance, connectedness, sense of safety, and access to competent mental health care.

To help address the issue of LGBTQIA+ Suicide in Utah, the Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition, Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, and the Utah Pride Center joined forces to create a Suicide prevention plan, which outlines goals to increase protective factors for LGBTQIA+ Utahns. These goals include providing LGBTQIA+ people with access to quality medical and mental health care, including early interventions for those struggling with drug use or suicidal ideations, creating social support of help-seeking and recovery behaviors in the LGBTQIA+ community, decreasing access to lethal means that could be used in suicide attempts, creating safe and supporting environments for LGBTQIA+ people, open discussions of the suicide risk for LGBTQIA+ communities and provide support to those who have lost people to suicide, teaching LGBTQIA+ individuals coping and problem solving skills.

You can read the full Suicide Prevention plan by visiting