|"David Richards explores the challenges of working therapeutically with older LGBT men and women, for gay, lesbian and heterosexual practitioners" |
Like Terry Pratchett’s Old Tom, a magical bell tower that tolls with tremendous silences, I was rather struck by the absence of bisexual and transgender clients in David Richards’ article ‘Working with older LGBT people’ (Therapy Today, December 2011). Although he explicitly marks them as beyond the scope of the article in the fourth paragraph (confusingly subtitled ‘Ageing and LGBT’), he continues to use the acronym LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) throughout the rest of the article; indeed, it appears a further six times. The ‘B’ in LGBT has also been left out of the intended readership, given the monosexual subheading text that is repeated in the third paragraph: ‘for gay, lesbian and heterosexual practitioners’.
Bisexual and transgender invisibility and exclusion are forms of biphobia and transphobia respectively (neither of which are subsets of homophobia; they are issues in their own right). Both minorities are commonly overlooked within heterosexual and so-called ‘LGBT’ communities1, 2 and are overlooked in this article. By continuing to reference bisexual and transgender people through using the LGBT acronym, while only actually talking about gay men (and possibly lesbians), Richards is making these groups invisible – which is a particularly sad irony, given that he talks about the double whammy of invisibility wrought upon older gay and lesbian people by being both older and attracted to the same sex.
BACP is committed to antidiscriminatory practice. One of its great ethical pillars is that its members do no harm – non-maleficence. Excluding and ignoring minorities is discriminatory and is harmful. We should take great care that our therapeutic worlds and publications do not reflect the harmful prejudices of our society.
BACP student member
1. Barker M, Langdridge D. Bisexuality: working with a silenced sexuality. Feminism and Psychology. 2008; 18(3): 389–394.
2. Government Equalities Office. Strategy to drive out transgender prejudice. London: Government Equalities Office; 2011. http://homeoffice.gov.uk/media-centre/press-releases/transgender-predjudice (accessed 20 February 2012).