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A Note on Intersectionality

If you are unfamiliar with intersectionality, it is the overlap of social categorizations and how that can relate to disparities, discrimination, illness, and many other facets of oppression. In recent years, the term "intersectionality" has become increasingly popular within social justice circles. Intersectionality is the idea that different forms of oppression (e.g. racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, etc.) are interconnected and reinforce one another.


This concept is important because it helps to explain why some people experience multiple forms of oppression. For example, a lesbian Black woman experiences sexism, racism, and homophobia all at once. This is not simply a sum of the three individual oppressions, but rather a unique experience that is shaped by the intersections of all three.


Add into that the possibility that the same woman could be experiencing intergenerational racism, and we begin to paint a picture of the layers of mental health challenges she might face.

Intergenerational racism is a big problem in our society. It's something that's passed down from generation to generation, and it's something that needs to be addressed. There are a lot of ways to address intergenerational racism. One way is to talk about it. That's why we need to have more conversations about race. We need to talk about the issue, and we need to listen to each other. Another way to address intergenerational racism is through education. We need to educate our children about the issue, and we need to make sure they're getting accurate information.


When we consider being oppressed both by individual intersectionality and intergenerational trauma, we see that this same person may have a complex struggle made up of all of these factors. People who live at the intersections of multiple marginalized identities often face compounded forms of discrimination.

Intersectionality challenges the notion that there is a single "universal" experience of oppression. So often, the experiences of privileged groups are treated as the default, while the experiences of marginalized groups are seen as niche or special interest. Intersectionality turns this dynamic on its head and highlights the importance of understanding the unique experiences of marginalized people. If we want to create truly inclusive social justice movements, it is essential that we understand and embrace intersectionality.


We know that mental health issues can affect everybody. Most people will experience a mental health issue at some point in their life because of various factors. However, some folks are at a higher risk. Intersectionality is a very important topic to consider when discussing mental health so that racial disparities in treatment can be addressed.


There is a myriad of social and cultural issues that can cause a person who belongs to a minority to feel like they are in a constant state of hopelessness. This is especially relevant for people of color, who have experienced a history of unethical clinical trials, mistrust in the medical community, systemic oppression, and both implicit and explicit biases. Marginalized communities might also experience a stigma towards mental health that is strong in their culture, making people feel like they have to go through mental health struggles alone. Unfortunately, there are so many layers to oppression including the effects of intersectionality that it can be a difficult problem to tackle.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to addressing intersectionality, as the experiences of those who live at the intersections of multiple identities vary greatly. However, here are a few things that can be done to start:

-Acknowledge that intersectionality exists and that everyone experiences it in different ways.

-Educate yourself and others on the experiences of those who live at the intersections of multiple identities.

- Advocate for policies and practices that consider the unique experiences of those who live at the intersections of multiple identities.

- Listen to and amplify the voices of those who live at the intersections of multiple identities.

Accessibility is also a concern and lack of accessibility can be compounded through intersectionality. For example, a transgender patient who is also a person of color might have a difficult time finding an affirming doctor that is equitable and accepting of transgender patients but that has also had adequate training in treating patients of all ethnic and racial backgrounds.


While the medical community works to address intersectionality in healthcare, there are a few things you can do for yourself to ensure that you are receiving the best care possible. When looking for a primary care physician, do some research on the medical practice or hospital system to see what their values are. When searching for a therapist, you can do the same thing but also check out the individual biographies of the providers to see if they have direct mentions of being affirming to people of color, LGBTQ+ patients, and more.


Talking with with others in your community to see what their experiences have been and what they suggest is also a way to ensure the clinician you plan to see is going to be a good fit. It is important to find healthcare providers that you feel comfortable with and supported by. It may take a few tries, but it is definitely worth it when you find a physician that truly respects all parts of your identity.

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