Christopher Hulme; our lead LGBT+ studies, diversity and terminology expert; discusses how the changing landscape has impacted members of the LGBT+ community.
“I’ve always considered myself a creature of comfort. I thrive in a routine. Knowing what I’m doing and when I’m going to be doing it helps me feel like I have a semblance of control in my life. But since March 2020, I (like many others out there) have had to contend with a decidedly less consistent landscape and have been coping with change in varying degrees ever since.
“For many in the LGBT+ community, the impact of lockdown has added an additional level of complexity to coping with change. Elective procedures have been cancelled, appointments at Gender Service clinics are being delayed and access to hormone treatment has been compromised. For individuals who use nutrition and exercise to maintain their physical appearance, closing gyms has resulted in many people seeing unwelcome changes to their body. This is also the case for beauty/hair salons and has undoubtedly had an impact on managing gender dysphoria.
Everyone deserves the right to live as their authentic selves. –
“Recently the trans and non-binary community have had to contend with a barrage of changes to legislation and government policy that will directly impact many of the most vulnerable people who identify as LGBT+. Coping with change is one thing. Coping with broad scale structural changes to how and when you can access gender affirmative medical care, is another. If you or someone you know is struggling to cope with these recent changes, a good starting point for resources from Gender GP is available here.
“Coming out is a rite of passage afforded to most people in the LGBT+ community. It can also introduce some of the biggest changes (both good and bad) in our lives. But imagine if that was simply not an option right now? Everyone deserves the right to live as their authentic selves. But consider why the current restrictions might discourage some people from doing so if they don’t feel secure, or if their living environment is hostile.
“Government guidance currently states that we all must stay at home, but what if your home environment is unsupportive, toxic, or dangerous? A report from the Albert Kennedy Trust states that LGBT+ youth make up 24% of the UK homeless youth population, and LGBT homeless youth are highly likely to have experienced familial rejection, abuse and violence (69%). These figures are a shocking indictment of the types of experiences faced by LGBT+ youth just trying to get on with the business of living. And it’s clear to see how the increased risks of coming out may deter some people from taking that step right now. If this is you, you might find it useful to look through the LGBT+ Foundations top tips to affirm your identity safely whilst in lockdown.
Create a space of familiarity for yourself. –
“If you’re really struggling to cope with change, consider creating a list of comforts you can draw on when you need. Watching your favourite TV shows or listening to an album you love are good examples. Cooking and eating comfort foods can be a real mood booster. The idea is to create a space of familiarity for yourself as a respite from the constant changes. Talking to people you trust can help also.
“The reality of the situation is that coping with change often means surrendering to the unknown. That’s something that can take a lifetime to master. In the meantime, if you need me, I’ll be watching A Place in the Sun/listening to Aretha Franklin/eating fried chicken.