The Ally Network proudly supports this Statement of Support and invites you as a student or staff member of Western Sydney University to show your support for the rights of Sexuality and Gender Diverse People.
Statement of Support
We are staff members and students of Western Sydney University writing this open letter to express our support of sexuality and gender diversity, and the right to and affirmation of diversity.
Our support is based on both a human rights position and evidence-based research dedicated to enhancing the well-being of sexuality and gender diverse people, and creating an environment of safety, affirmation and respect. Such evidence-based research must be at the core of policies that promote the dignity of our fellow citizens.
Peer reviewed, academic research reports evidence of high rates of distress experienced by sexuality and gender diverse people [1-5]. Overwhelmingly, this research finds that this distress has social causes and has resulted from discrimination and non-affirmation, described as “minority stress” [6, 7]. Many sexuality and gender diverse people experience family and community rejection for violating traditional sexuality and gender norms [18, 19], which can impact on their mental health and wellbeing [17, 20]. For example, an Australia-wide survey of young sexuality and gender diverse people found that:
… rejection, alienation, bullying, and harassment often led to depression, suicidal ideation, and attempted suicide. Some participants spoke openly about multiple suicide attempts as a result of negotiating their sexual/gender orientation at school, at home, and in their broader communities 
International research also demonstrates that sexuality and gender diverse adults are more likely to experience physical and sexual violence than their peers who are heterosexual (attracted to the opposite sex) and cisgender (those who identify with the gender identity assigned at birth) [1, 2, 9]. Experiencing this violence is associated with poor health outcomes including but not limited to depressive disorders, anxiety, suicidal ideation and substance abuse [10-12]. In contrast, gender affirmation [13-15] and social support [16, 17] is associated with better mental health and quality of life for sexuality and gender diverse individuals.
From a human rights perspective, there is a need for respect, support, and understanding of these experiences and a commitment to find ways to address discrimination and distress. All of us have the right to express our sexuality and gender identity without public debate as to the legitimacy of our existence, and without being demonised or losing our dignity. Sexuality and gender diverse people have always existed and always will ; the task is to make the world a place where their human rights and wellbeing are the only issues we need to address.
A call for action
The call to ensure support is not only a human rights one, but also based on research evidence. Across Western Sydney University, many staff and students across disciplines are working towards ensuring sexuality and gender diverse individuals and their families in the Western Sydney University community and beyond have the same rights, dignity and support as the general population.
We invite all groups, research centres or individuals across the university to sign this statement in support of our sexuality and gender diverse staff and students, as well as in the broader Australian and global community, starting from Greater Western Sydney.
1. Callander D, Wiggins J, Rosenberg S, Cornelisse VJ, Duck-Chong E, Holt M, et al. The 2018 Australian Trans and Gender Diverse Sexual Health Survey: Report of Findings. Sydney, NSW: The Kirby Institute; 2019.
2. Szalacha L, Hughes T, McNair R, Loxton D. Mental health, sexual identity, and interpersonal violence: Findings from the Australian longitudinal Womens health study. BMC Women's Health 2017;17(1).
3. Hyde Z, Doherty M, Tilley P, McCaul K, Rooney R, Jancey J. The First Australian National Trans Mental Health Study: Summary of Results. School of Public Health, Curtin University, Perth, Australia; 2014.
4. Smith E, Jones T, Ward R, Dixon J, Mitchell A, Hillier L. From Blues to Rainbows: The mental health and well-being of gender diverse and transgender young people in Australia. Melbourne: Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society; 2014.
5. Strauss P, Cook A, Winter S, Watson V, Wright Toussaint D, Lin A. Trans Pathways: the mental health experiences and care pathways of trans young people. Summary of results Perth, Australia: Telethon Kids Institute; 2017.
6. Meyer IH. Minority stress and mental health in gay men. Journal of health and social behavior 1995;36(1):38-56.
7. Cyrus K. Multiple minorities as multiply marginalized: Applying the minority stress theory to LGBTQ people of color. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Mental Health 2017;21(3):194-202.
8. Robinson KH, Bansel P, Denson N, Ovenden G, Davies C. Growing up queer: Issues facing young Australians who are gender variant and sexuality diverse. Melbourne: Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre; 2014.
9. Langenderfer-Magruder L, Walls, N. E., Kattari, S. K., Whitfield, D. L., & Ramos, D. . Sexual victimization and subsequent police reporting by gender identity among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer adults. Violence and Victims 2016;31(2):320-331.
10. Clements-Nolle K, Marx R, Katz M. Attempted suicide among transgender persons: the influence of gender-based discrimination and victimization. Journal of homosexuality 2006;51(3):53-70.
11. Fernandez-Rouco N, Fernandez-Fuertes AA, Carcedo RJ, Lazaro-Visa S, Gomez-Perez E. Sexual violence history and welfare in transgender people. Journal of Interpersonal Violence 2017;32(9):2885-2907.
12. National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and HIV-Affected Hate Violence in 2016. New York, NY: National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs; 2016.
13. Glynn TR, Gamarel KE, Kahler CW, Iwamoto M, Operario D, Nemoto T. The role of gender affirmation in psychological well-being among transgender women. Psychology of sexual orientation and gender diversity 2016;3(3):336.
14. Hughto JMW, Gunn HA, Rood BA, Pantalone DW. Social and Medical Gender Affirmation Experiences Are Inversely Associated with Mental Health Problems in a U.S. Non-Probability Sample of Transgender Adults. Archives of Sexual Behavior 2020.
15. Katz-Wise S, Reisner S, White Hughto J, Budge S. Self-Reported Changes in Attractions and Social Determinants of Mental Health in Transgender Adults. Arch Sex Behav 2017;46(5):1425-1439.
16. Trujillo MA, Perrin PB, Sutter M, Tabaac A, Benotsch EG. The buffering role of social support on the associations among discrimination, mental health, and suicidality in a transgender sample. International Journal of Transgenderism 2017;18(1):39-52.
17. Pitts M, Smith A, Mitchell A, Patel S. Private Lives: A Report on the Health and Wellbeing of GLBTI Australians. In. Melbourne: Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe 2006.
18. Asquith NL, Collison A, Lewis L, Noonan K, Layard E, Kaur G, et al. Home is where our story begins: CALD LGBTIQ+ people's relationships to family. Current Issues in Criminal Justice 2019;31(3):311-332.
19. Koken JA, Bimbi DS, Parsons JT. Experiences of familial acceptance-rejection among transwomen of color. Journal of family psychology : JFP : journal of the Division of Family Psychology of the American Psychological Association (Division 43) 2009;23(6):853-860.
20. Budge SL, Adelson JL, Howard KAS. Anxiety and depression in transgender individuals: The roles of transition status, loss, social support, and coping. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 2013;81(3):545-557.
21. Weeks J. Sexuality. London Routledge; 2003.