I was recently asked why straight cis people should care about eliminating homophobia and transphobia – what's in it for them? (Presumably it's obvious to anyone what's in it for LGBT+ people.)
Before assessing the benefits of eliminating homophobia (which for these purposes let's assume includes lesbophobia), biphobia and transphobia, it’s important to understand that you can’t eliminate those without eliminating their causes. So what are the causes of LGBTphobia?
- Toxic masculinity: the normalization of violence and repression of emotions which is presented as a standard which men are told they should conform to.
- Misogyny: the cultural idea that women are inferior, and the association of gay/bi men with women due to their supposedly being open to performing female roles. and discrimination against lesbians/bi women when they fail to have relationships with the superior gender.
- Refusal to accept complexity: some people cling to the idea that gender is as simple as they were told it was when they were 5 years old, instead of accepting that people are complex and diverse.
- Tribalism: the need some people have to prove publicly that they belong to their tribe by identifying people who don’t belong and persecuting them (this leads to racism and fascism as well).
- Toxic religiosity: similar to tribalism, some people feel the need to judge and censure everyone who does not conform to whatever they personally imagine are the teachings of their religion (even, frequently, that religion whose leader preached “judge not”).
- Cultural norms: people who are LGBTphobic simply because they live in a society which tells them those things are bad, and they don’t know anyone who is LGBT+, so they never question it (eliminating the five points above would eventually solve this one too).
In order to eliminate LGBTphobia you would have to eliminate all those things, and I’m sure any sane person would agree, the world would be a tremendously better place without that nasty pile of prejudices!
So, apart from the obvious benefit to the victims of LGBTphobia, how would non-LGBT society benefit from getting rid of all that hate and discrimination against LGBT+ people? Even just thinking about LGBTphobia alone, there are obvious benefits.
- Living in a society that doesn’t tolerate discrimination against LGBT+ minorities benefits women and people in non gender-related minorities that also suffer discrimination.
- Reduction in suicide rates.
- Elimination of the fear and misery caused to friends and family of LGBT+ by homophobes etc (and bereavement when people are murdered for being LGBT+ – which seems to be especially a problem for gay men and trans women).
- Cultural diversity would flourish further; culture enriches everyone’s lives.
- Research has shown that LGBT+ people on average suffer from poorer mental health than the average population (and bi and trans people significantly worse than lesbian and gay). As well as the loss in productivity this causes, it’s a drain on health resources.
- Due to suicides, murders and being denied access to health resources (including HIV education), life expectancy is shorter for LGBT+ people leading to a loss of productivity.
- Bullying against LGBT+ people at school results in lower education outcomes.
- Brain drain as LGBT+ people migrate to more tolerant countries (or leave a workplace due to LGBTphobia among coworkers/management).
- Loss of productivity and the money spent on training when trained specialists are sacked for being LGBT+.
As I said, those are just some of the direct benefits from eliminating homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. But since you can’t eliminate those without also addressing intersecting problems like mysogyny, toxic masculinity and toxic religiosity, there would be heaps of other benefits as well!