Key Concepts

The previous section provided some definitions of LGBT2SQ identities. This section provides information on some additional key concepts that are important to understand before moving to the sections that follow.

Intersectionality

“Intersectionality” is a concept first defined by Kimberlé Crenshaw16 that describes how people are shaped by their many identities, including their sex/ assigned sex, race, ethnicity, language, ability, faith, age, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, and gender identity, and the ways in which these identities intersect. Some examples of intersecting identities include a gay man of colour or a cisgender woman with a disability.

Together, these identities can result in unique and distinct experiences for an individual or group that may create barriers or opportunities.

Understanding intersectionality is central to providing holistic supports and services to children and youth impacted by the risks and challenges associated with their gender identity, gender expression, and/or sexual orientation. Indigenous, Black and racialized LGBT2SQ children and youth need access to holistic supports and services that distinctly affirm and support their identities as Indigenous/Two-Spirit, Black, racialized, and LGBT2SQ. At all stages of service delivery, service providers should consider whether the child or youth has access to all of the communities with which they identify, including cultural and faith-based communities. Service providers and caregivers should also consider intersections with a child or youth’s ability-related identities. The availability or absence of holistic supports and services that relate to multiple dimensions of a child or youth’s identity can impact all other areas of their life.

“Many CAS staff understand very little about the needs of LGBT2SQ youth, including the very basics such as letting trans youth wear whatever clothing they want.”
— Society Staff


“… colonization has greatly impacted the status and position of Two-Spirit people by suppressing Two-Spirit traditions and roles. With the forced change in gender construction over the last four hundred years, Two-Spirit people were alienated and persecuted for their practices, which ultimately resulted in the incomplete erasure of their teachings, practices, and roles and the emergence of homophobia and transphobia in Indigenous societies. Two-Spirit people continue to grapple with unique challenges that are shaped by their intertwining experiences of race, gender, and sexuality.”

Native Youth Sexual Health Network and the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (2015)

For further information, please visit the Native Youth Sexual Health Network at: http://www.nativeyouthsexualhealth.com/, or the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres at: http://www.ofifc.org/


Understanding that individuals face different levels of risk and different challenges will contribute to policies, programs, and services that are inclusive, reflect the diversity of children and youth in the child welfare system, and better meet their needs. These are also critical considerations in developing policies, programs and services that respond to the complex and layered nature of systemic discrimination. Some individuals are at higher risk of discrimination because they face multiple prejudices and stereotypes based on their particular set of intersecting identities. In addition to discriminatory experiences based on their gender and sexual identities, LGBT2SQ children and youth who are, for example, from racialized, Black or Indigenous communities, may also experience inequitable treatment based on those identities.

Discrimination

Discrimination is the act of treating an individual or a group of people unequally and generally arises from negative attitudes, fear or hatred, and stereotypical assumptions and biases.17 LGBT2SQ children and youth may face discrimination in care systems if they receive inequitable treatment due to their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Systemic discrimination occurs when an organization creates or maintains inequity on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression (e.g., not allowing a gay youth the same dating rights as a heterosexual youth, treating a trans identity as a mental health problem, prohibiting same sex and/or same gender couples from adopting a child). Discrimination can be the result of “doing things the way they’ve always been done,” without considering how they impact particular groups differently. It can be direct and easy to detect, or subtle and hidden, but still harmful either way.

What are microaggressions?

Microaggressions are the everyday occurrences of subtle and often unintentional discrimination that people who experience marginalization encounter throughout their lives (Egale, 2017).

Marginalized communities, including LGBT2SQ children and youth, experience microaggressions every day. LGBT2SQ communities of colour, LGBT2SQ people with disabilities, and Indigenous LGBTQ and Two-Spirit persons are more likely to experience microaggressions. Examples of microaggressions include: talking slowly and simply to a person with a physical disability (who is not cognitively impaired) or statements such as “I am not homophobic—I have gay friends.”

The combined impact of microaggressions can take a significant toll on the health and wellbeing of LGBT2SQ children and youth.


Discrimination can operate on multiple levels and so must be addressed at each of these levels:

In their own words: engaging with LGBT2SQ Indigenous Youth

As part of the development of this guide, the Association of Native Child and Family Service Agencies of Ontario (ANCFSAO) hosted a youth forum at Native Child and Family Services of Toronto (NCFST). Youth were invited to share their experiences and need for culturally appropriate services that affirm and are inclusive of their sexual and gender identities.

This is what they said:

  • Youth do not want to feel like they have to choose between their culture and their sexual and gender identities when receiving child welfare services.
    • Services should not separate gender identity and sexual orientation from cultural identity. This means that services specifically targeting Two-Spirit and Indigenous LGBTQ youth must be made available, and provided by those who have in-depth knowledge of Two-Spirit and Indigenous cultures.
  • Youth need culturally-appropriate services and culturally-competent and knowledgeable service providers.
    • Youth want resources and services that are responsive to their lived experiences, and that are delivered in a non-judgmental way. This includes wraparound, integrated, and culturally-appropriate services. These services should not merely be “affirming” but rather “inclusive.”
  • Youth feel that respect and the concept of the ally go hand-in-hand.
    • If service providers wish to be considered allies, they need to respect youth identities and expression.

Differences in the treatment of LGBT2SQ children and youth, including those in the child welfare system, stem fundamentally from the perspective that the behaviours and values of those who are heterosexual and cisgender are the norm. These assumptions, often unconscious, can result in services that exclude the experiences and needs of those who identify as LGBT2SQ (e.g., assumption that a family includes two parents of different sexes and/or genders).

What is misgendering?

Misgendering is a cissexist practice that involves intentionally or unintentionally using pronouns, prefixes, or group addresses that do not reflect an individual’s gender identity (Egale, 2017).

For example, using “guys” to address a group of people who do not all identify as men or using “she/her/hers” for an individual who uses gender neutral or they/them/theirs pronouns are forms of misgendering.


Respectful Use of Names

It is important to ask when transgender, genderqueer, and/or Two-Spirit children or youth would like to be referred to by their chosen name(s). Not all people and/or spaces are considered to be safe by transgender, genderqueer, and/or Two-Spirit children and youth to openly express their gender identity. As a result, transgender, genderqueer, and/or Two-Spirit children and youth may wish to limit the use of their chosen name(s) to select spaces and in front of specific people.

What is deadnaming?

Deadnaming involves calling a transgender, genderqueer, or Two-Spirit person by a birth-name(s), legal name(s), or any former name(s) that they do not use. Using a chosen name is one way transgender, genderqueer, and/or Two-Spirit children or youth may express and affirm their gender identity.

Intentionally or unintentionally calling someone by their deadname when they have asked to be called by their chosen name(s) is a form of transphobia. Since you may not know when a child or youth identifies as transgender, genderqueer, and/or Two-Spirit, it is important to ask all children and youth what name(s) they would like to be called.