Internet, I am a queer researcher of queer health and I have something to say.

A few weeks back, a study went viral about the relationship between marriage equality policy and queer teen suicide rates, and a lot of people reacted thusly: “queer mental health is better when we’re not discriminated against! BREAKING: SKY IS BLUE, WATER IS WET”

This happens a lot. People see research about a thing ~Everyone Already Knows~ and they mock it. Now I want to make two things really clear:

1. Everyone does not already know.

2. This shit can lose these projects their funding.

Did you know that media coverage is a crucial factor in funding allocation? When we submit our application for grant renewal, we have to provide a list of news articles about our research so they can decide whether the public cares enough about us to let us keep doing our work. And most research doesn’t get all that much coverage, so individual reactions can really matter. If the primary reaction to our publications is eyerolling, we legitimately might not be able to continue.

I’ve seen some frustration from people who believe this research funding would be better put to use “actually helping” the affected populations instead of–I don’t know, pinning them under microscopes or whatever it is they think we do. But funding for policy initiatives is driven by research. I know you wish politicians would listen to individual voices telling them where the problems are, but that’s honestly not a smart way to direct limited resources. We need solid evidence. And a lot of the areas that need the most attention aren’t obvious–who knew bisexual people are at a much higher risk for physical and mental health disparities than gay and lesbian people? Who would have guessed that transgender folks are more likely than any other group (including straight people) to be military veterans, but overwhelmingly don’t claim their benefits? I’m sure some people noticed these patterns, but they definitely weren’t common knowledge within the queer communities I’ve grown up around, and those findings are leading to direct action as we speak.

I get that it can be frustrating to feel like your identity is being reduced to facts and figures for the benefit of red tape. But trust me, the researchers aren’t your enemy here. Most of us are queer too. All of us are just as frustrated by this crap as you are. We are doing our best, and I swear to you this work really is making a difference. Please don’t sabotage it.

I’m reblogging this because it only has 9 notes, and it should really, REALLY have a lot more.

Also, given the current US administration’s plan to stop collecting data on LGBTQ identities as part of the census, we are in need of accurate, useful data now more than ever.

Plus the ability to cite peer-reviewed evidence of these sorts of things and quantify the extent of “obvious” effects can be pretty important to researchers who are working in adjacent fields that don’t produce the sorts of headline soundbites that get mocked on social media.

And often headlines and summaries are misleading and reductive- a study about wage gaps across a variety of demographics might get headlined “Women Still Make Less Than Men, New Study Shows” when the bulk of the paper is about the intersection of race and gender identity, and I’ve seen people on Tumblr mocking a study about the flavor compounds in food across the Indian subcontinent, conducted by Indian scientists at an Indian university, as “LOL white people don’t know how to cook.”

And to add to this– it’s also important to be able to point to something and say, no, the problem is not that these people aren’t straight. Being able to point to actual science that says, “no, it’s not us, it’s you and how you treat us”– well, that’s a a good thing.

There are a lot of people out there who genuinely believe that being any
flavour of queer is intrinsically harmful to you. That unhappiness is a
natural result of being gay, that to be trans is to be mentally ill,
that bisexuals are confused and troubled. There are people who believe that you cannot be happy or well if you’re queer, and not all of those people are bad people. Some of them have what they perceive to be your best interests at heart, and they want you to be happy, to be well, to be physically, emotionally and mentally safe. And they still act in a way that causes harm, that damages lives, isolates kids and tells them that pain is what they should expect for being who they are.

It’s important to be able to say, “these policies kill kids”, to say, “no, this wouldn’t have happened anyway”, to say, “yes, it does matter what you do.”

A thought I have had: 

A lot of the “IN OTHER NEWS WATER IS WET/etc” comes from that sense of frustration that this is in fact Shit We Know (because it’s our lives) and it is in fact frustrating to have these things treated like a revelation. 

It’s useful to turn that frustration around into shapes that are less likely to get research shut down. Like “FUCKING FINALLY SOMEONE DID THE FUCKING RESEARCH”. Or “AT LAST. SOMETHING TO THROW AT THE STRAIGHTS.” or “WE HAVE SCIENCED THE THING NOW WILL YOU BELIEVE US?!” 

Know that the researchers are, as OP notes, probably on your side! They have fought to get this stuff in order to have Data to back shit up. 

Additionally, everything everyone else has said, and ALSO that even when we study things we’re Pretty Sure Of we more often than not discover that there was at least some aspect that we were wrong about, or had under(or over)estimated, or whatever, or a contributing factor nobody had considered, so it is actually important to Do The Damn Research in order to make sure we can do the BIGGER research. 

But if you’re having that sense of ARGH WHY IS THIS EVEN IN QUESTION, like: this is fair! But it’s also pretty crucial to reframe the direction of the argh, to provide impetus for MORE of this kind of evidence-seeking, rather than less. 

Another thing! Even if you are LGBTQ+ yourself, there’s tons of things you can learn from these studies. Like, for example, school bullying.

For a paper I was writing, I needed a statistic that basically said “LGBTQ+ teens get discriminated against and makes them mentally ill.” This was something I knew, and my LGBTQ+ friends knew. Obviously, right?

But the study also said the following:

  • The bullying based on their identity, or repeated discrimination from other children, is a problem that does contribute to the development of depression and anxiety
  • [Here is the statistical amount of that impact]
  • And one mitigating factor that can decrease this effect by some ridiculously high number is parental acceptance

Of course, yeah, if you asked an LGBTQ+ person if they would have felt less terrible if their parents were accepting, they would say yes. But the study revealed that, due to the threat of homelessness, as well as acceptance making it easier for students to cope with the stress of school bullying, parental education would have way more impact than school bullying programs. Also, because LGBTQ+ kids face unique challenges of often being forced into independent living, then the LGBTQ+ political movement should be working together with youth activism.

And this is just one example. So it’s important to read these studies if you have access to them, because it’s not just obvious stuff! If you’re open to learning things to spite Straight people, because copying down statistics with proper citations is delightful, you can also better guide your own activism to be more effective.

And I mean. Isn’t the entire field of science basically just “water is wet” anyway? That’s what scientific research is.