The concept of intersectionality describes how systems of inequality based on gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, age, disability, class and other forms of discrimination "intersect" to create unique dynamics and effects. All forms of inequality are mutually reinforcing and must therefore be analysed and addressed simultaneously to prevent one form of inequality from reinforcing another.
For instance, a transgender person of colour may experience discrimination and violence that is different from what a white transgender person or someone of colour who is not transgender experiences. They may face multiple forms of discrimination based on their gender identity, race, and ethnicity.
Similarly, a bisexual person who is also disabled may face additional challenges in accessing healthcare services that are inclusive and understanding of their unique needs. They may also face stigma and discrimination from both the LGBTQ+ community and the disability community.
An older gay man who is also low-income may face challenges in accessing affordable housing and healthcare, as well as social isolation and lack of community support. They may also experience ageism, homophobia, and poverty, which can all intersect to create unique challenges.
Recognising and addressing intersectionality is important because it helps us understand the complexity of social inequalities and the unique experiences and needs of individuals who may belong to multiple marginalised groups. It also highlights the importance of simultaneously addressing multiple forms of discrimination, rather than treating each form of oppression in isolation, to create more equitable and just societies.
Photo courtesy: Canadian Institutes of Health Research (Bauer)