LGBTQ+ History Month is a time for everyone to recognise and celebrate how far we’ve come in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights.

This year’s theme puts a spotlight on LGBTQ+ people’s contribution in medicine and healthcare - #UnderTheScope.

This is particularly prevalent as it gives everyone an opportunity to showcase all the fantastic work that LGBTQ+ staff have achieved in the NHS.

Yet, we still need to recognise that the journey to equality and inclusion isn’t over. With LGBTQ+ people still facing inequalities and the community still experiencing hate crime, this month gives us the space to listen to the LGBTQ+ community’s lived experiences.

In light of LGBTQ+ History Month, we interviewed Carmel, CCCU student and Treasurer for the LGBTQ+ society at Christ Church Students’ Union.

LGBTQ+ History Month

What does LGBTQ+ History Month mean to you and why should this be a recognised, celebrated time of year?

“This month is important to me because it allows me to recognise how far I’ve come in my own journey, which as an Irish Catholic was quite a difficult one. Even with the progress I have made I still struggle with my identity and what it means or who I am, so having a month that celebrates LGBTQ+ people is a reminder that being queer is positive and okay in a world that still tries to make it seem like it is something negative.

“This month is an important reminder that queer people have always existed, and that their contributions to society are both wide ranging and positive. Using this month to remember those who came before us and those who paved the way to equality is the best way to honour these people.”

This year’s theme is Medicine – Under the Scope. Why is it important to shed light on this particular theme during LGBTQ+ History Month?

“Many people who identify as LGBTQ+ face barriers to healthcare in the UK. Most notably, transgender people are looking at waiting lists of up to seven years in some parts of the country just trying to get an NHS consultation. In London, prior to the closure of the Tavistock gender clinic, backlogs stretched to 54 months.

“There are only eight clinics in the whole of the UK that deal with gender dysphoria and transitioning. This has meant that individuals have had to seek private treatment with costs running into tens of thousands, therefore making treatment inaccessible to some people whilst others need to campaign for funds.

“According to a study conducted by Stonewall, over half of LGBTQ+ people experience depression and 1 in 3 suffering from anxiety.

“Queer people are less likely to access healthcare for either of these mental health issues due to discrimination they have faced with healthcare providers. The report also indicated that some of those who do seek medical assistance are pushed into damaging conversion therapies that the government has failed to ban.

“The report concludes with horrifying statistics that were collected by a YouGov survey which discovered that 13% of LGBTQ+ people aged 18-24 attempted to take their own life. That figure triples in the trans community where 46% reported thoughts about suicide.

“Lastly, 1 in 4 queer people have witnessed discrimination or negative remarks against LGBTQ+ people, and again, that increases when applied to the trans community.”

In light of LGBTQ+ History Month, how can we support inclusivity and bring about positive change in the medical sector and beyond?

“Whilst an overhaul of the system is needed, starting with small things can be just as effective.

“Not misgendering patients is a start. Teaching equality to medical staff should also be a requirement of the healthcare service as they have such an impact on the lives and health of LGBTQ+ people. It would be an improvement to not dismiss the worries of queer people when it comes to their health or when trying to access gender healthcare.

“One thing I can encourage people to do is to vote at the next general election. Looking at a politician’s manifesto and their voting history gives you an indication as to whether they’re for or against the trans community.”

How will the LGBTQ+ society be celebrating this month?

“The society will be celebrating LGBTQ+ History Month by having a Coming Out? night on 6 February, which will feature drag performances and a queer history quiz. It’s from 7pm - 10pm at The Lounge.

On the night there will be drag performers, a history themed quiz in ode to LGBTQIA+ History Month, and themed cocktails will be available.

We’re looking forward to seeing as many people there as possible!”

The importance of LGBTQ+ History Month

A huge thanks to Carmel for taking the time to speak with us and for shedding light on just how important LGBTQ+ History Month is, particularly in the healthcare sector.

However you’re celebrating this month, don’t forget to share your appreciation for LGBTQ+ History Month with #UnderTheScope.