Do you want to relate to an author who has written about their journey? Transpire has put together some of our favourite read’s so that you can sit back and take a look at transgender history and other people’s experiences.
Mental health is a topic that is prevalent within the transgender community. There are multiple factors that impact mental health for trans people. Whether it be due to bullying, deadnaming, people using incorrect pronouns or most commonly, gender dysphoria overall, a mass proportion of the trans community suffers with mental health in a major way.
Stonewall claims that 27% of trans young people have attempted to commit suicide, with 89% having considered it at some point in their life. 72% have also self harmed at least once. Although these figures don’t state the reason behind these cases, there is always something you can do to help your trans allies and support someone in the trans community who may be struggling mentally.
What can you do?
Lend your ear. Sometimes, not only for transgender people but for anyone suffering with depression or other mental health issues, having someone there to speak to can help massively. Just knowing that whoever is struggling is able to open up to someone and not have any judgement is an amazing feeling and can make a huge difference. Make sure you offer your support and allow that person to explain how they feel and try and give them the advice you think is best.
Provide the person with information on mental health. Transpire has mental health helpline recommendations, along with information on mental health and a mental health journal. This allows you to write down how you are feeling if you don’t wish to talk to anyone yet. Some people who haven’t come out as trans may not feel safe enough to talk to someone, so being able to write down your feelings can help.
If you are a parent or teacher, use these resources. If not, do your own research as to help you can receive for your child or student. Ensure that you have done your research so that if your child does come to you feeling a certain way about their mental health or transition in general, you can give them sound advice and ensure that they get help if needed.
If you yourself are a trans youth or adult, make sure you open up and ask for help.
Don’t be ashamed to receive help if you need it. Speaking to someone and getting help in any form sooner rather than later can make all the difference. Often, people with mental health issues are afraid to talk to people or receive help as there is still sadly a stigma attached to mental health. Make sure you trust who is in your life and who is around you and ask them to listen and try to understand you. It is vital that you speak to someone and do not suffer in silence.
Do your research on transitioning.
It can all be very confusing at the start of your transition. At the beginning, you might not know the first steps to take, who to tell, and how to go about things. First of all, tell your loved ones and make sure you are very transparent with them. It can be hard for parents, friends and family members to understand if they are new to this subject. Make sure you explain exactly how you feel. Sit down and be an open book. Reveal your preferred pronouns so that they know how to address you and so they don’t get it wrong. Then, when you are ready, speak to your GP! They will give you advice and guidance on the next steps based on your case and what you have told them!
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When it comes to pronouns, it is very important to understand that you use them correctly. For transgender and non-binary people, their pronouns define their transition and who they now wish to be. For instance, if a female to male transgender person identified as he/him/his and was then misgendered by a teacher in school, it could have severe affects to them and their mental health. In this instance, the trans boy would have started, or about to start his transition and is only comfortable being called he/his/him. Therefore, if a teacher, peers or even a stranger were to refer to his as “she/her/hers/” then it could very much make them feel like their transition has regressed as society is still struggling to accept them as “him” and still refer to his previous pronouns, her.
It is extremely sensitive, and those that aren’t trans (cisgender) may take their pronouns for granted and struggle to understand that this can be extremely upsetting and, on some occasions, could result in self-harm or lead to depression. For cisgender people, they take pronouns for granted as they don’t understand the struggle of being born as the wrong sex and the need to change their gender in pursuit for happiness.
Along with male and female pronouns that always MUST be respected when it comes to a transgender person’s transition, non-binary also have pronouns that must be respected. The pronouns for a trans person are “they/them/their”. Being non-binary or gender-neutral means to not label yourself with one gender or their linked set of pronouns, but to belong to both gender groups. Therefore, non-binary people must be addressed by “them/they/their”.
If you are the parent or teacher, it is extremely important to first ask which pronouns the child/young adult you are speaking to wishes to be addressed by. Understanding their pronouns and comprehending and respecting them means the world to a transgender person and something that may seem small to someone who isn’t trans is very important to trans people.
We’ve selected some of our favourite books for transgender youth to help you escape your troubles and relax. Whether it’s about coming out, romance or self-love, we’ve got you covered…
Let’s face it, it’s still lockdown and there is nothing to do other than binge your favourite show on Netflix. We’ve all seen the same show about 5,000 times and we’re not going anywhere soon. Ellie Desautels is a rising, non-binary star who first came into the public eye when they starred as transgender boy Michael Hallowell in NBC series ‘Rise’ – first premiering in 2018. Since then, Ellie has been a rising star in the LGBT community as a trail blazer for non-binary talent. We wanted to get to know more about the star and what their experience as a gender fluid person has been.
When did you first feel you were gender-queer?
My gender expression was always unconventional, even before I knew I was trans. However, I was 20 when I started questioning my gender identity, and it took me three years to fully give my gender a term; gender-queer and agenderflux. Everyones gender journey is different, and there’s no deadline for figuring it out – especially at the beginning of figuring it all out. It can certainly be quite confusing.
What was the coming out experience like for you?
That’s kind of difficult to put into words because it took me three years to fully figure everything out. So, I didn’t really feel like I was coming out, more that I was letting everyone in on my journey. Telling my immediate family about my gender and pronouns luckily wasn’t that scary of an experience.
My family are super accepting and understanding. I’d always been able to express myself however I wanted, so I knew I would be accepted. It’s kind of a blur, but I think what I did was tell my mom my gender and pronouns. Then eventually just did a post on Facebook to let everyone know. It was intimidating later on when I wanted to go strictly by they/them. It was intimidating to tell my mom. I don’t know why that is, because I knew she would support me. Ultimately, all the reactions from my friends, family, and the faculty at college were positive and I’m very lucky I had that.
Have you experienced any issues with being gender fluid from people in society?
I didn’t face any issues with people at school. I think at first it was difficult to remind everyone of my pronouns. I would get misgendered a lot, but mainly because at the time (2015-2016 ) they/them pronouns weren’t widely known the way they are today. I had to be my peers’ and my teachers’ educator on what it means to be non-binary, how to use they/them pronouns etc. Then again, this was college. I was an adult equipped to be that beacon of information for everyone. I wanted everyone to understand genders that are different from their own, so I felt a responsibility. Luckily, I am not met with many issues in my day-to-day life. Living in North-East USA there’s much more toleration for folks in the LGBT+ community. Also, I am white, which gives me massive amounts of privilege. Being a public figure and having a large social media platform, I have come across transphobic people. I simply educate where I feel like I can make an impact, and I ignore/block/report those that I can tell I won’t be able to influence.
How do you think the older generation could be more involved in supporting trans youth?
Well, for one I think having more trans officials in government positions would help support the entire community, and especially help vulnerable trans youth who are facing all of these anti-trans bills. But, in general, it’s so important for the older generations of trans/non-binary people to take these issues seriously. Get involved in protests and sign petitions! More importantly, share information with the world, share information about these issues on social media. We need awareness for trans youth. They truly need protection, and the more awareness we have on these issues, the better we can protect them.
Finally, what advice would you have for anyone who is struggling with gender identity issues?
My advice is that there is no deadline for figuring it out. It sounds so cheesy, but seriously, it is your own journey. It’s your path and every step you take to figure out what is right for you, you are doing with your future-self in mind, and that is self-love right there. Stop worrying about being an inconvinience to others. You inconvinience yourself by letting your gender journey be about everyone else. This is for you. Do it all for yourself.
If you need help or someone to talk to in the US or Canada, Trans Lifeline is a fantastic resource. It is a hotline by trans people for trans people that offers direct emotional and financial support to trans people in crisis.
It can really be a difficult journey as a parent, or even a teacher, of a child that is transgender or having gender identity struggles. Many parents aren’t sure on how to help their child and are scared of doing the wrong things. Here are some pointers that can help you, help a child.
Listen to them
It may not seem like much but one of the most important things that a parent or teacher can do is listen to their child or pupil. Hearing exactly how they feel and having a sit down conversation is extremely important. Each case from one transgender child to another differs, so it is extremely important to listen, and comprehend exactly how the individual is feeling at that specific moment in time or just generally about themselves. Some children may not feel comfortable and may think they are trans but aren’t really sure or educated, and others may be set in stone that they know they are in the wrong body and wish to transition. Listening is key.
Use their preferred pronouns
Pronouns are a very sensitive subject for transgender people. Imagine that for a long period of time, you have known in your head that you are another gender, but have had to be raised as another. It is an extremely distressing feeling. Therefore, when an individual begins their transition and is finally starting to become happy with themselves and who they are, it can be harmful to their progression if an individual was to call them the incorrect pronoun. For instance if a child born female transitions to male, but is still called a girl, it can have really severe effects on the individual. Ensure you take time to think before you speak and make sure you are using the child’s preferred pronouns.
Do your research
Doing your research as a parent or teacher is extremely important. Coming from my own POV, at first I had a lack of knowledge on hormones and how starting my transition worked. I approached the LGBT support teacher at school who gave me information to tavistock, the gender clinic in London, and links to websites and support groups. If you are a parent or teacher, we will provide you with information to links for support, mental health and information on transitioning and hormone replacement therapy that you could print off and read so that you are more educated for your child.
For many parents, finding out their child is transgender can be a sensitive topic. Often parents find it a big shock to the system and feel overwhelmed with information. Of course, any parent loves their child and wishes to be there for them, and it can be a lot of information to process all at once.
Being transgender is when one’s personal identity does not correspond with the sex they were assigned at birth. For Instance, someone may be born physically male but they identify as female and vice versa.
Gender Dysporia: according to the Mayo Clinic, Gender dysphoria is the feeling of discomfort or distress that might occur in people whose gender identity differs from their sex assigned at birth or sex-related physical characteristics. Transgender and gender-nonconforming people might experience gender dysphoria at some point in their lives.
A lot of the time, people can get misconstrued with the meaning of cross dressing and being transgender. I myself have experienced people with a lack of knowledge being unaware of the difference. Cross dressing is when someone wishes to remain the sex they were born as, but seeks fulfilment from dressing as the opposite sex. Transgender is when one wishes to take action (whether it be hormones, surgery etc) to permanently change the sex they were assigned at birth to the opposite sex and have that permanent role in society.
Each case between transgender people is different, so it’s important that if your child comes out to you as trans, that you listen to his/her/their preferences on how they wish for it to be addressed and what they wish the next steps shall be.