I was asked to join the Dorset Equality LGBTI+ Forum in January.
As an LGBTI+ and Queer Affirmative Therapist and ally, I was delighted to be invited to become a part of something that can potentially challenge the health inequalities that LGBTI+ people experience throughout Dorset.
Having met with other therapists in the area, I wanted to meet other LGBTI+ organisations locally to learn from their expertise along with utilising referral pathways to improve the wellbeing outcomes for my private practice clients.
The Forum provides an opportunity to plug into a wider community, gain expertise from it, and work together to collectively address the physical and mental health and wellbeing disparities that LGBTI+ people face. Often, they result from privileged ignorance, lack of education and awareness but also at times, conscious, deliberate, and wilful discrimination.
The Forum provides an opportunity to educate and raise awareness of how heteronormative and CIS normative practices and assumptions filter through into wider society including service delivery and employment provision, which at best, fails to meet the needs of LGBTI+ people or worse, actually causes them harm.
While it’s early days the aspirational hope is that we can begin to understand with greater clarity the specific factors that are preventing LGBTI+ people and communities locally, from experiencing greater mental-health and wellbeing outcomes while identifying and sharing the collective steps, measures, service development, improvement, and delivery.
Finally, we know that discrimination, hate crime, bullying, harassment, and their consequences impact greatly on LGBTI+ people’s mental health and would like to learn and developing ways to improve things. An example of this could include campaigning for the improvement of Gender Identity Services that are so sorely lacking for adults and young people where in some cases people are waiting for years for their initial appointment.