Blog: "Remaining connected to other trans people has been essential for me"

Last reviewed 19 July 2021

This blog was written by Jodi, a member of The Speaker's Collective.

I’m Jodi M Burn (they/them), an educator, student and musician who currently uses the words ‘trans’, ‘non-binary’ and ‘agender’ to describe my experiences of gender. Something that has been essential for me during the isolation of the past year has been remaining connected to other trans people who understand and respect my experiences. I've done this by participating in and volunteering for (online) groups with local and national LGBTQ+ organisations.

One of the worst parts of being trans is being part of a misunderstood minority that is so often discriminated against. Knowing that I have people I can relate to and talk about this with, whether online or in-person, has made a huge difference to my own mental health, especially during lockdown.

As we’ve learnt from recent events in the UK, even LGB people are not always supportive of trans rights, and sometimes even other trans people are not supportive of all trans/non-binary people, let alone wider society. Finding people that truly understand our experiences and support us is so essential to feeling connected to the world in a positive way.

This leads me on to the idea that mental health is not always an individual problem and is very much tied together (for me at least) with national and international events, especially regarding trans issues. I’m not going to write about going on walks or meditating or spending less time on social media; I know these things can help many people significantly, but I’m sure these suggestions will be more adequately covered by others. Also, I see these things as treating symptoms of mental ill health rather than treating the causes, which is still worthwhile, but perhaps more of a short-term-fix than some people might like them to be.

Living in a country that still denies so many rights to trans people has a massive impact on my own and, I’m sure, others’ mental health, especially when our safety and respect is so often devalued. Our lives and experiences are almost constantly being discussed in the public sphere, many times without trans people being present and too often with incredible amounts of negativity, which has a regular negative impact on my mental health. This isn’t helped by the strain the NHS has been under this last year due to COVID-19 and current backlash against trans healthcare, making it even harder for trans people to receive the support they need, whether for mental health or gender-related purposes.

Something that has definitely helped keep me afloat emotionally over the last year has been getting involved with organisations that are aware of these issues and are working towards plugging the gaps that COVID-19 has exacerbated. Not everyone may have the capacity to be active in tackling these wider issues but, if you can (and this can take many forms), I would highly recommend getting in touch with a local or national group. You will meet like-minded people, build community and help tackle some of the underlying causes of mental ill health for some of the worst affected people in our society, hopefully leading to better mental health and wellbeing for everyone in the long run, not just in the short term.

Being connected to people and knowing I’m contributing to important causes that are tackling wider issues, even in a small way, really helps me keep going during this time and I would 100% recommend it!

Good Thinking provides a range of resources to support your mental health, including NHS-approved wellbeing apps, expert advice, podcasts and videos. If you’re feeling anxious, stressed or sad, you might find the following helpful.

Five ways to good mental wellbeing (article)

Online communities for support (podcast)

Self-compassion workbook

Speakers Collective mini-series (videos)

Podcast: Want to stop bullying behaviour? It starts with the dictionary…

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