Anna Foulds talks to Transgender and Non-binary about how the pandemic has impacted their gender identity expression and transitions.
Life is never easy for Transgender and Non-Binary people, having to cope with Gender Dysmorphia, abuse, and risks to their Mental health.
Over the past year they have had to contend with both these issues and The Covid 19 Pandemic. Without being able to go outside many Tans people have been trying to explore what their Identity and Gender is without the medical advice, mental health support of even things like new clothes to help them express themselves better.
Transgender people are people whose sense of personal identity and gender is not the same as the sex they were assigned at birth.
Non-Binary is a gender identity that is not defined in terms of traditional binary oppositions such as male and female and can be also used as an Umbrella term for anyone who does not identify as either male or Female. Genderfluid means someone whose gender identity can move and is not fixed. According to Stonewall about 1% of the population of the Uk are identifying as Trans or Non Binary.
Harry Voigt, who is an 18 year old Transgender Man described his experiences and the experiences of many other Trans and Non-Binary people over the last year
“I have had to have a load of zoom calls with the person at my gender identity clinic at the moment.”
Although he feels he has had an easier time than some as he began Transitioning a while before the pandemic began.
“let’s say If a Trans person wanted to start hormones or something at that time they could because they wouldn’t have access or be able to go out to a clinic. You’re not allowed to go personally and you can’t do it yourself, you have to have a zoom call. It’s really bad sometimes. Obviously if you don’t have any stuff you need it will all be put on the back-burner because of lockdown.”
He also worries that the lockdown will be having an impact of Transgender people’s wellbeing.
“I think there is a statistic that trans people are more likely to self-harm and stuff like that yeah because you are alone at home isolated”
It is indisputable that Trans people are more vulnerable to self-harm and suicide.
According to the Trans Mental Health Survey 2012 Almost half (48 per cent) of trans people in Britain have attempted suicide at least once and 84 per cent have thought about it.
However some argue the Pandemic has given Trans and Non Binary people opportunities that they didn’t have before.
Siobhan Alexander who Came out as Genderfluid in February says They have had a more positive Experience with Lockdown.
The 19 year old seemed very excited that they had had the opportunity over lockdown to question and Explore their Identity.
“For me having that time to myself has made me realise I am not Cis…It is going to be weird going out into the real world navigating being genderfluid and with toilets and little things like that It’s going to be a whole new experience.”
On the other hand, They say They is aware that some Trans people will have gone through many changes during lockdown.
“I think It is going to be a big change for a lot of people.”
According to the Trans Mental Health Survey conducted in 2012, almost three in four of trans people avoid certain places and situations for fear of being assaulted, threatened or harassed. Therefore some Trans people are worried about the release of lockdown rather than the lockdown itself.
There are also concerns about domestic violence and struggles with Family. According to a report conducted by The Williams Institute, 30 percent to 50 percent of transgender people experience intimate partner violence at some point in their lifetime and many face abuse or violence from a young age by family members.
Ally Elliott who is 20 and Genderfluid said “Those who are living at home some of them have had to hide a lot more of themselves especially if they are around transphobic family members…If you are in a family who dislikes or disapproves of pretty much your whole being It’s got to be pretty hard to get the support that you need”
It is often hard for Transgender people if their families are transphobic however the Pandemic has kept them away from accessing help putting them more at risk even of Homelessness.
“You’re not really going to be able to reach out as much and your not going to be able to access as much help if it is there because your family will be around and you might not have a chance to access things that might help you. There is a great risk of Isolation with people.”
As Lockdown is slowly released across the country many Trans and Non-Binary people will be both relieved and nervous for what the future may hold for them.