September is LGBTQIA+ Month on Agrilinks
Register for our theme month webinar on 9/28! Farming under the Rainbow: LGBTQI+ Inclusive Development in Agriculture Programs in Honduras and Central America
LGBTQIA+ individuals may experience specific barriers not experienced by their peers. Due to violence, discrimination, stigma and exclusion based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity and expression, LGBTQIA+ people may not have access to or inherit family land, or other resource sharing. Customary norms, traditional family structures and other societal rules (both formal and informal) may marginalize LGBTQIA+ people and exclude them from using communal land and other natural resources critical for rural livelihoods. Because of weak or nonexistent family ties, and strained or nonexistent inclusion in other communal networks, LGBTQIA+ people may be unable to use family land/property as collateral to access a bank loan (i.e., to buy farming inputs and equipment). Additionally, they may face barriers to accessing goods and services or employment in the agriculture sector — as businesses may discriminate against people based on sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression.
There is a serious lack of research material available on LGBTQIA+ inclusion in agriculture, food security, resilience, nutrition, water security, sanitation and hygiene. “Sexual and Gender Minorities in Agricultural Research: The Hidden Mirror” notes that there is “very little literature on sexual and gender minorities in agriculture, nor is evidence found of agricultural policies which reference these groups.” Research on LGBTQIA+ integration into development programs focusing on nutrition, water security, sanitation and hygiene is similarly lacking. The dearth of data should not be interpreted to suggest there is a lack of discrimination, stigma and violence experienced by LGBTQIA+ people. Rather, the lack of data demonstrates the topic is under-researched and organizations should endeavor to more fully understand the unique challenges and needs of LGBTQIA+ people in this sector.
LGBTQIA+ individuals may experience specific barriers in agriculture and agriculture-led growth not experienced by their peers. With a focus on inclusive employment practices; equitable access to input, output and service markets; outreach to LGBTQIA+ staff; engaging public and private sector actors around the business case; and nondiscrimination in hiring, development programs can be made more inclusive.
“SOGIESC” is an acronym that stands for sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics. Variations of this acronym (that drop letters) exist as well.
“Sexual orientation” refers to a person’s attraction(s) to others. Everyone has a sexual orientation. Categories include heterosexual, bisexual and homosexual.
“Gender identity” is a person’s deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender. Examples are that a person could identify with the societal role of a woman, a man or neither.
“Gender expression” is about how a person demonstrates their gender through, for example, the way they act, dress, behave and interact socially. Examples include being feminine, masculine or neither.
“Sex characteristics” refers to the chromosomal, hormonal and anatomical characteristics used to classify an individual as female, male or intersex.
“LGBTQI+” is an acronym that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex. The “+” represents other sexual orientations and gender identities that do not fit within the “LGBTQI” identity labels. Variations of this acronym (that add or drop letters, like A for “asexual”) exist as well. Sometimes variations on this acronym (e.g., LGB and LGBT) are used depending on the subpopulations being referred to. Regardless of the acronym used, USAID’s intention is to be inclusive of the full diversity of genders and sexualities.
“Lesbian” refers to women who are emotionally and romantically attracted to other women.
“Gay” refers to men who are emotionally and romantically attracted to men, and is often used as an umbrella term for all people who experience same-sex attraction.
“Bisexual” refers to individuals who are emotionally and romantically attracted to both men and women.
“Transgender” is an umbrella term that refers to all people whose gender identity differs from the sex assigned at birth. The best way to explain this is through an example. Let’s say a baby is born and the doctor looks at the baby’s body and says, “It’s a girl.” In this case, we say the individual was “assigned female at birth.” However, as that baby grows into an infant, child, adolescent and adult, they realize that even though they might have female-typical body parts on the outside, on the inside they identify as a man — and that their thoughts, emotions and feelings are those of a man. This is an example of a transgender man. Sometimes transgender people take steps to align their external appearance with their gender identity. Note that “cisgender” refers to a person whose gender identity aligns with the sex assigned at birth (i.e., not a transgender person).
“Queer” is an umbrella term that is used by some people to refer to identities within the broad spectrum of sexual orientations and gender identities and expressions that are considered outside of the mainstream, typically meaning nonheterosexual and/or not cisgender. Historically, the term was used as a slur against LGBT people, but it has been reclaimed by the LGBTQIA+ community.
This post was modified from a USAID document. This document was produced with input from countless USAID colleagues, including many members of the Bureau for Democracy, Development, and Innovation’s Inclusive Development Hub (DDI/ID) and the Bureau for Resilience and Food Security’s Program Office (RFS/PO) and extended LGBTQI+ support team. Brett Jones served as the lead researcher and author with the support of Anthony Cotton, Stephen Leonelli, Daniel Bailey, J. Erin Baize, Shawn Wozniak, Matthew Thielker, Melissa Hampton, Collin VanBuren, Lisa Schechtman and Meredith Soule.