Sexual and gender minorities

The S&H sector rarely looks at gender beyond male and female – non-binary considerations are largely absent from discussions. However, when using sex-segregated public, community or institutional toilets, sexual and gender minorities can face exclusion, verbal harassment, sexual or physical abuse and sometimes even arrest.

Solutions need to be sought which avoid further stigmatisation or exposure to violence and abuse. This is not straightforward. For example, gender neutral toilets may work in some contexts, but in others may increase the risk of violence against sexual and gender minorities, or may be culturally inappropriate.

Gender-neutral or third gender toilets might be an option in some countries or regions, such as South Asia, however, they are not possible in many other countries where sexual and gender minorities are being prosecuted. Ways forward will vary from country to country. To compound the problem, in many cases, discussions around sexual and gender minorities are extremely challenging due to laws against being transgender, lack of knowledge around intersex and/or the presence of deep social prejudices.

The S&H sector needs to have a better understanding of the experiences and challenges that sexual and gender minorities face in different contexts across the world, and a willingness to overcome pre-existing biases within the sector.

Using the term ‘sexual and gender minorities’ on this resource page is a conscious, recent decision on our part. We reflected on Edge Effect’s use of the term ‘sexual and gender minorities’ and similarly wanted to make sure we are not excluding certain groups, or groups that may use local terms to express their identity.

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