We want to have a different kind of conversation this year.
Today marks World Mental Health Day. As someone who struggles with mental health on a daily basis, these ‘awareness’ days, as cynical as it sounds, start to get repetitive.
I see the same quotes, presented in the same way, by the same type of person. That is not to say we shouldn’t highlight these experiences. Rather I just wish there was a wider range of stories being told and advice offered.
There’s a problem with our mental health system. Obviously. People feel helpless, and I know that we’re losing lives year after year from the lack of professional help out there. I alone can’t do anything to fix that national crisis, but what I can do is start to broaden the scope of what mental health problems look like.
When it comes to representation I consider myself one of the lucky ones. Being white, cis-gendered, and able-bodied means that my identity as a queer woman is often easy enough to deal with, and widely accepted enough, for it to not be a major detriment to my mental health. But I have still suffered from anxiety and mild depression through my teenage years — something that wasn’t helped by feeling ‘different’ and underrepresented because of who I am.
It worries me that there are people in more marginalised communities, who get less representation and often are consciously left out of these conversations. How must that affect their mental health?
Mental health ‘awareness’ is rising day by day, and that in itself is a positive. However, for a lot of people, their idea of awareness is slapping a ribbon on their Twitter profile and Facebook sharing a pretty quote along the lines of “It’s okay not to be okay.” Often their actions speak louder than their virtual words when it comes to true acceptance.
The same people who preach acceptance and are often the first to crack the “I iDenTifY as A tOaSteR!!” ‘joke.’ The same people that retweet “Don’t suffer in silence” tweets are often the same people that teach their sons not to cry. What people fail to realise is that mental health struggles are multi-faceted, multi-layered, and as unique and individual as each person you’ll pass the next time you’re outside.
I decided to get into contact with individuals I felt represented communities that are often missed out of these awareness days. By having a broader insight into what mental health struggles look like, maybe we can strive to be more accepting and welcoming to everyone’s mental health issues. If this helps just one person then I’m happy.
Firstly, I’d like to introduce you to Carys.
My name is Carys, I’m 24 years old and I’m visually impaired. I’ve battled on and off with my mental health since my teenage years, with my main demons being anxiety and depression.
Things are on a pretty even keel at the moment, but this has come after years of misery and pain. There were times where it felt like the only thought going through my mind for months at a time was that my life wasn’t worth living. Today, I’m a Masters graduate, hoping to begin a Ph.D. in the near future. I consider myself a disability advocate and activist, and I’m hoping to pursue a career in this field.
I used to think that if I wasn’t blind I wouldn’t be depressed and suicidal, and wholeheartedly believed that my visual impairment and my poor mental health went hand in hand. Eventually, I gravitated towards the idea that the problem lies with society, not with me. Ableism is synonymous with discrimination and devaluation, and that is something I have to deal with on an almost daily basis.
Trying to get the adaptations and adjustments I need feels like a never-ending battle, and changing ignorant attitudes and perceptions feels like a war that will never be won. But I do take a great deal of solace in knowing that the problem lies with society and not with me. Being able to lose some of that personal responsibility and burden for society’s failings has certainly helped my mental health considerably.
“Ultimately, I just want to feel like I’m being listened to and understood. I don’t expect anyone to have every answer to my problems, but I need to feel heard. Listening is such a simple skill, but one that is often poorly executed when it comes to mental health, at least in my experience.” — Carys on what people want when they open up about mental health
Unfortunately, a few times in the past I have opened up about my mental health, only to be met with disappointing reactions. The most memorable of these instances involved a former employer. I had been asked by management not to take on any overtime shifts during the run-up to Christmas as they felt like my disability would put me at risk when the business was busy.
This understandably made me feel singled out, and like a problem that needed to be swept under the carpet. After all, the abled staff were able to take on as many overtime shifts as they wanted to, why couldn’t I? When I met with the management and voiced my concerns, they were unwilling to put a plan together to allow me to have the same overtime opportunities as everyone else. I was simply told ‘there’s not much we can do, but you’re more than welcome to take on extra shifts after Christmas’.
Personally, I found engaging with the disability community was a huge help, and is definitely something I would suggest to any disabled person. In the age of social media, there are many national and international support groups and forums that can be a great way to not only seek advice and guidance but to remind you that even if it feels like it, you aren’t alone in your struggles.
Next up, I’d like you to meet the lovely Mia Violet.
My name is Mia Violet, I’m a bisexual trans woman who writes about queer issues and self-love. I’ve had some form of mental health issues my entire life, but it’s only recently I’ve been talking about them.
My mental health and my identity as a trans woman have always felt like they’ve influenced each other. For instance, I’ve always had social anxiety but when I came out as transgender I became hyper-aware of my body whenever I was in public or at work, the way I spoke, looked, and moved, were always on my mind. I was constantly anxious and tense, thinking that I was going to be harassed everywhere I went (the attacks on trans people in the media definitely contributed to this paranoia).
It took me a long time to realise that state of constant high alert was just making me miserable. Before transition I had no sense of self-worth and no ambition for the future, I didn’t worry about my safety because I didn’t really care what happened to me. But when my transition began I went completely in the other direction, feeling like I couldn’t trust anyone and everyone was a potential danger. It took me quite a while to get these feelings under control and find a healthy balance.
Meanwhile, my body image issues became more acute when I started to transition, as the way that I was seen by the world shifted. Women are obviously judged more than men based on their appearance, and trans people are especially judged for how they look. Now that people were correctly perceiving me as a woman, I became painstakingly critical of my appearance and lost my sense of perspective on how to value myself. As someone with BDD, it’s still something that I struggle with today, but practicing things like meditation and CBT help me keep things under control.
Up until my mid-twenties I kept my mental health issues a secret. When I was struggling with regular panic attacks I felt that I’d be judged and misunderstood so I awkwardly tried to keep them a secret, which ironically led to them becoming worse as now I was anxious someone would notice my behaviour change. Nowadays I wear everything on my sleeve, I’m open about struggling with body image and anxiety, which I find quite empowering and helpful. If I’m anxious when in a social situation I’ll just tell my friends what’s going on, which also has the effect of making me feel like I don’t have to put up a front for them.
I know it’s a cliche to say “ask for help” but I’m going to go a step further and say try and seek out some form of therapy.
Mia on her advice for trans folk experiencing mental health problems
Growing up as a trans person, even when you don’t know you’re trans, is hard. We normalise a lot of things about our lives, but they really aren’t normal.
It’s not normal to grow up being told a lie about who you are and having to work out the truth of your identity alone.
It’s also not normal to face such a harsh backlash from people in your life because you want to be happy, or to then live in a society that continues to openly mock your identity in the media and see your life debated in a public forum.
For a long time I didn’t go back to therapy as I assumed I couldn’t afford it, but by doing a bit of research I found a therapist with a sliding pay scale for LGBTQ clients, and thankfully we negotiated something that was affordable. Another alternative is to work with counselling students, who’ll likely offer help for free as part of their studies. It won’t be as useful as working with a qualified professional, but anything is better than struggling on alone.
In terms of what allies can do to make society more pleasant for trans people with mental health problems — stand up for us. Allies have access to tools we don’t, as well as having the ability to engage in trans related topics without the fatigue of talking about their own lives and identity. It’s incredibly helpful when allies take the steps to back us up or shut down transphobia on their own accord.
Us trans people often feel a duty to defend our community, but when we’re struggling with our own mental health and trying to tend to ourselves it leaves us stretched far too thin. Elsewhere, it’s vital for cis allies to listen to trans voices, and not just the familiar ones in the media. Read essays and books by trans writers, watch films by trans directors, and realise that we’re a very vast and diverse community with a range of voices and intersecting identities.
Now I’d like you to meet the awesome Lucy.
I feel like the classic scene from a movie you may all know. “Life is like a box of chocolates — you never know what you’re going to get.”
How true to life that is.
Hey! My name is Lucy and I am a disabled lifestyle blogger (my hobby). In my teens, I had mental health illnesses that sought help for. Well, really it was others that stepped in (my GP) who at the time said in simple terms ‘you’re killing yourself.’ So I got myself together and life seemed ok again; I put myself through education whilst being a lodger/in temporary shelters for young people then finally I was settled in a place I called home. Little did I know life was going to change FOREVER.
At the age of 21, I became seriously ill, which turned into years of not knowing what exactly illnesses I had. Not knowing what’s going on with your own body is hard, one minute you’re walking for miles feeling physically fit, then you’re fatigued, then BAM. Bed-bound. I’ve lived with asthma most of my life. I’ve had tons of chest infections, bronchitis, real bad periods, headaches and migraines, but at least I got breaks of feeling ok.
This wiped me off completely, I’ve been in 24/7 pain till this day. This meant weeks, and months, of not leaving my home at a time. This is when my anxiety began. I went from being confident, to so afraid to leave the house out of fear of not being able to walk. Being so weak meant I had fears of someone attacking me (this was partly due to my traumas in the past). What can I do - NOTHING. So, sadly my anxiety grew along with other mental illnesses. It’s a battle having both physical health illnesses and mental health illnesses as they can easily feed each other and go hand in hand. Being disabled, I rely on a walking aid. I rely on a wheelchair and does get frustrating REAL easy.
Now being 34 I understand my illnesses more. Of course, I still get thrown curve balls (regularly). You’d think living in London would be easy. Don’t get me wrong transport is great however when the lift is broken, no assistance is about. Disabled bays on buses/trams/trains etc are filled with luggage, bikes, and prams. So I, as an ambulatory wheelchair user, cannot get on because the section is full. Or, you’re cornered with no space at all, bags in your face, it’s NOT fun. Even down to taxis parking too far away from my home, and not helping even when I’m clearly struggling. Dropped curves with vehicles parked right by them, shops with no ramps, or places stating disabled access but it has a step? The list continues…..
Now, back to mental health as I do want to talk more about it. Not long ago my mood was seriously low. My partner had to watch me, so I wouldn’t do anything to harm myself. They make sure I take my meds as when I get low, I self-sabotage. The next day was the day my carer comes around. She noticed my low mood, and we talked. She listened. For me, I don’t want just a listener, but someone that will empathise with me and show emotion. Because the things I’ve been through will bring you to tears. I asked did she truly hear me? She said yes, why? I explained I’ve told my truth so many times yet only a handful of times do I get real emotion from a person.
I still remember to this day: one of the best therapists I’ve ever had is the one that cried with me, stepped out of a professional role and hugged me. Yes, I know they have a job, but she knew my history, how detached I was and that all I needed was someone to care at that moment.
If someone is going through a tough time, truly listen to that person. Don’t let it be an “oh ok” moment, an “it shall pass” moment. I’m not knocking that quote, it just doesn’t suit every situation — when you are in that moment tomorrow feels impossible. Hug (with permission.) If you feel like you are out of your depth and the person needs professional help, seek professional advice for them.
Something I’ve faced myself being disabled is, how many times is someone going to say I am CRAZY? Yep, I’ve had nurses, doctors, consultants say it before. In vulnerable states you’re told that, and what happens is self-doubt. You shouldn’t be made to feel like that or be taken advantage of because you are disabled and suffer with mental health. I’ve had carers in the past take full advantage. I’ve known friends who are chronically ill who also suffer with mental health be taken advantage of. It happens ALL the time.
Able-bodied people get in front of me to get on the train whilst the transport assistance person puts the ramp down. It happens ALL the time. People pay less attention to their surroundings now. It doesn’t cost a thing to make sure all things are clear. Isolation and loneliness are REAL. “Do you want a cup of tea?” It is the classic British way, but it does work. Something so simple can mean a lot.
As a society, we need to be less selfish. We need to be checking up on people. (Not just those that are famous — I feel like people are quick to check on them if they haven’t posted for two days, but not someone you know.) It doesn’t hurt to say “Are you OK? For real, for real. I’m here if you need me to listen.” Simple. Society likes to over-complicate things when they can be simple.
Shifting the focus to male mental health, something that is becoming more widely talked about, I’d like to introduce you to Dan.
My name is Dan, I’m a 32-year-old husband and father. I suffered deep depression and anxiety and sought help from Mind. After recovering I went on to become a life coach, helping to support A LOT of people and Mind presented me with an award for my work.
I now help people with anxiety and depression, reduced levels of motivation and inspiration, and those struggling with confidence.
I’m a mental health advocate and am focusing more recently on men’s mental health and breaking the stigma that surrounds it.
Being a man and the idea of ‘masculinity’ affected my mental health. I feel there is an expectation for men to be tough, strong and not show signs of being weighed down by life.
If you are struggling mentally, you do worry about “How masculine do I look” or “I will look weak and less dominant.”
Struggling, suffering alone and keeping it to yourself is a huge mental burden. It affects you as a person in every way. You can sometimes manage to put up a front and appear ok but inside you feel like the loneliest person in the world. If affects not only you but your family, friends, and anybody around you.
When opening up to someone about my mental health, I’d expect to not be judged or seen differently to how that person would normally see me. I’d want support and some understanding.
I’ve opened up in the past only for people to react badly, and that’s hard because you build yourself up to get it off your chest and to tell someone you’re not ok. It’s a big deal but then it’s gutting to receive no support in return or to all of a sudden be treated differently to before.
In terms of advice that I’d give to other men who may be struggling, I’d say go with your gut. If you’re not ok or not your normal self, seek help or advice. Even if its to talk to a close friend or family member. Often, just getting our problems out in the open can make the issues we face seem so much more manageable.
To improve men’s mental health as a whole, as a society we need to stand together. Organise social groups and gatherings where men of all ages, races, and religions can meet and discuss their issues and to give advice to each other.
The next person who bravely spoke about her experience is a close friend of mine who wished to remain anonymous to keep control of her story. I’ll call her B.
I’ve struggled with anxiety as long as I can remember. My anxiety manifests itself in obsessive-compulsive behaviours that I find myself returning to unconsciously, so ingrained are they in my muscle memory. Growing up as a third-generation South Asian Muslim, my anxiety was largely chalked up to me being a ‘perfectionist’ and needing to ‘not take things so seriously’. My anxiety stemmed from a need to perform academically, which was exacerbated by the fact that I went through high school with the constant threat of having my academic scholarship revoked if I slipped up.
When I joined the ‘real world’ during my gap year, and later university, which also coincided in me participating more visibly in my faith, I was bombarded by a new set of anxiety-inducing pressures. My efforts to maintain a perfect façade became even more laborious as people abruptly asked invasive questions about my religious practice, placing me in a position to have to solely defend a faith of more than 1.6 billion people.
Now, in my mid-20s, I’ve learned the importance of introspection and how to manage my triggers — one of them being understanding when is best to remove oneself from conversations or situations that do more harm than they do good. I’ve had to convince myself that this isn’t selfish, nor is it disengaging from important matters — it’s preserving my mental health so that I can continue to function for myself, for my family, for my friends. And most importantly so that I can strive to attain the pleasure of God through my daily actions and interactions.
Although I have struggled with my mental health, I acknowledge that I am much luckier than some of my fellow women of colour of faith. One of my peers struggled with depression and loneliness during a particularly stressful year of university and sought help from a university therapist. She felt like her illness was feeding into a crisis of faith and came to view her daily acts of worship as a source of stress.
Having spoken to various religious friends and family members, I see that this is a common theme — just like any other duty or task in life, when we suffer from mental health problems, and neglect these duties or do not perform them to a high standard, they become a source of guilt. This leaves one in a vicious cycle in which one yearns to engage with God to alleviate their difficulty, yet their mental illness prevents them from doing so, thus worsening their illness.
Rather than suggesting that my friend also seek some spiritual therapy from a religious leader, the university therapist callously told her that abandoning her faith altogether would be the most effective option, as it was a source of anxiety that she could completely disengage from. I’m sure that my friend is not the only person of faith to have been advised so insensitively by a healthcare professional, nor will she be the last. This highlights the need for more of an intersectional approach to mental health, but also the glaring need for representation amongst healthcare professionals.
Whilst I cannot emphasise the importance of seeing professional help if you suffer from a mental illness, I can also attest to the importance of holding ‘firmly to the rope of Allah’ (3:103). Engaging in acts of worship knowing that you won’t feel the sweetness of prayer carries more reward. Calling upon your Lord in a state of utter hopelessness is not in vain. Ease will surely come after hardship. In these times of hardship I try to remind myself what Allah tells us: ‘I am as my servant thinks of Me. I am with him when he mentions Me. […] If he draws near to Me at a hand’s length, I draw near to him an arm’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him running’ (Hadith Bukhari).
Next, I’d like you to meet the inspirational Samia.
I’m Samia. I was homeless at 16. I now rent in London with my boyfriend, and have just had an exhibition of my work as part of my master's degree. I have filmed documentaries about Bangladesh (where my parents are from), and the experience of millennials in Europe.
Being homeless exasperates an already challenged state of mental health. I don’t know a single person who has experienced any form of homelessness and who wasn’t already experiencing struggles internally, the two go hand-in-hand. The situations that lead to homelessness are too overwhelming and challenging for one's mental health. Once you’re homeless those existing issues become exasperated.
When I first tried seeking help I was completing my BA, so after some years of leaving the hostel I’d lived in, ran by a youth homelessness charity. I think it was after my BA I knew that things were bad and tried to tell a friend. I’d been telling people the entire time really. But the issue is the person I told in the end and the people I told along the way (all who were close friends at the time) didn’t believe me. Everyone kept saying that I was too high achieving, too attractive, too bubbly, too smiley, too optimistic, too friendly and too productive to truly be experiencing ill mental health.
I fought for myself to see a proper mental health team (there were many barriers within the NHS) but eventually, through various means, I was able to attain the support I was lacking. Remember that there are many functioning clinically depressed people. See them. Hear them. Before it’s truly too late.
I think the best thing to support someone in need would be to firstly believe them. Don’t compare your own experiences to theirs or try to belittle them, and get them the support help they need and prioritise this over their superficial goals such as school or work. You can’t get A’s and hit deadlines if you’re dead. Don’t try to ‘fix’ them as this is often patronising. Get them help from adequate professionals and just simply listen with a non-judgemental ear and check-in with them often.
Samia’s advice to anyone who is homeless/has recently been homeless or in a vulnerable living situation who are also struggling with mental health:
The number one thing you need to do is get yourself out of danger. Tell a friend, a teacher or anyone you trust. Tell the police. Begin to communicate. See your GP. Be honest and open up. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Take all the time you need to heal and look after yourself as a number one priority. There are many services out there that offer all kinds of help now, utilise them.
I also want to say that speaking about, taking care of or getting help for your mental health is nothing to be ashamed of. Let’s end the stigma, it’s cost too many lives already.
Now I’d like to introduce you to the wonderful Courtney.
I’m Courtney, I’m a 25-year-old disabled mum from Hertfordshire. Some of the chronic conditions I struggle with are Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome(hEDS), Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome(PoTS), Gut Dysmotility and Chiari 1 Malformation. I also struggle with Depression, Anxiety, and EUPD.
It has taken many years of fighting for answers to finally be at a stage now where I am receiving the right care and I’m under the correct specialists. I’m a mum to a two-year-old mischievous little boy and even though being his mum is absolutely exhausting, he has been what has kept me going when there were times I didn’t think I could continue to fight. It has been a long, hard battle, which has definitely had it’s ups and downs, not just for me, but for my family too. I share my experiences on my Instagram and I also blog from time to time in case any of you would like to follow my journey.
Having a disability most definitely affects my mental health. I suffer from chronic pain and chronic fatigue as well as a lot of other symptoms due to my conditions, which unfortunately makes me quite unreliable and my life quite unpredictable. I suffer from depression and anxiety and I find it really difficult that I am unable to do things, which others are able to do without a second thought. Though I have been diagnosed with the conditions I suffer with for a long time, I still really struggle with accepting them and that I do have limited capabilities. I have had to cancel many plans that I have wanted to attend and I have lost many friends due to my disabilities and I don’t think people realise that it can be very isolating and very lonely.
In the past when I have turned to someone for help, all I have honestly wanted is their time, understanding and respect. There is such a lack of understanding when it comes to invisible illnesses. Just because I may look fine doesn’t mean that I am. I want someone to listen to my issues and understand that just because they can’t see that I’m struggling, doesn’t mean that my physical and mental health issues aren’t real. I want them to respect that what I am experiencing is very real, and can be very debilitating.
Unfortunately, I have experienced a disappointing response from some people which is heartbreaking. At the time, they were people I classed as good friends that I could trust, hence feeling like I could open up to them. They weren’t even willing to even try and understand what it is that I’m going through, they just assumed that I am a liability, and were quick to dismiss my feelings. That honestly hurt so much and has resulted in a loss of a lot of friendships.
If you are struggling, whether it is with your physical or your mental health, please speak to someone that you trust, whether that is a family member or a close friend and tell them how you are feeling. No one should have to battle their symptoms and feelings on their own as understandably it can be very overwhelming. You know yourself better than anyone and you are the one who has to experience everything that you feel day in and day out, so no matter what anyone says, what you are experiencing is very real. Please don’t ever stop fighting to be heard, because everyone deserves to be helped.
In terms of the wider society, there most definitely needs to be more awareness and understanding of invisible illnesses and mental health issues. So many people suffer in silence, and don’t think they deserve help because their issues are minimal or ‘not that bad’, but getting help early is so important. Society needs to understand that everyone is deserving of help and answers to what they are going through. So if someone expresses to you a concern, listen to them and don’t try and belittle them or their symptoms, because to them, they are very real.
Next, my friend Steph very kindly agreed to talk about her personal experiences (albeit very last minute on my part.)
I’m Stephanie, a 20-year-old accounting student at the University of Reading. Up until university I would have said my mental health was fine however with the massive amount of new people and experience you have along with the workload it can be quite mentally draining.
From my childhood experience of being the odd one out, mainly due to being Chinese/Vietnamese amongst a white majority, I felt this once again when I first entered my halls and was the only none-white person. For the first two weeks, I was convinced everyone else was best friends and just had more in common with each other because they were all white and I wasn’t, so I felt left out and like I couldn’t relate to them despite being born here.
I became aware of my non-whiteness around them and it gave me anxiety when I was with them all in a group. However, after pushing myself to try and engage with them everyday we all eventually became extremely close and the cultural differences between us became inside jokes and interesting topics of conversation.
What I would want from someone if I opened up to them about mental health is just to listen. Advice is a bonus but just having someone to listen to how you’re feeling and validating your emotions is extremely comforting.
As a society, I believe making mental health awareness available for everyone, no matter what background, is key. Additionally, making it a topic of conservation in many cultures would help. In Western culture, mental health is now a lot more open and acceptable to discuss - whereas in Eastern cultures it’s seen as taboo, and a weakness to even possess any mental health issues. Therefore, educating people from all different cultures and backgrounds on how mental health can affect everyone no matter where you come from is fundamental in bringing about change.
Now I’d like you to meet one of my friends, Roman. He kindly offered to help me with this piece, opening up and writing about experiences he hasn’t written properly about before. He’s hilarious, a great friend, and an all-round cool guy.
My name is Roman Manson, I am a 20-year-old trans man from Manchester. I started my transition in 2016, started to get hormone replacement therapy in 2018, and I’m going in to have chest reconstruction surgery in early 2020. I have suffered from anxiety and depression since I was around 14 or 15, with it greatly effecting me when I was 17 — causing me to almost drop out of college. Now I am working full time, taking anti-anxiety medication, and trying to apply to university.
I knew I wanted to be male from quite a young age, so as I grew up I sort of pushed it to the back of my mind. It wasn’t until I was around 16, when I discovered what being trans was, and found out that if I wanted to change my gender I actually could.
However the few years before that I had already been diagnosed with anxiety and depression. The complicated part was trying to explain to people that I’m not depressed because I’m trans, I have depression AND I’m trans, the overlay is very small. Obviously being trans can be quite emotionally exhausting; discovering that you’ll never be a cis male, the social pressure of trying to pass in public, and general body dysphoria. It’s a wild ride but personally, and I can’t speak for everyone, my mental health was bad before I knew I was trans, the whole being trans part was kind of an add-on.
Talking to people about my emotions is something I never do. Or if I do, it is done quickly, rarely, and peppered with self-deprecating humour. I have more experience with people coming to me with their issues, which I think is why I never do the same, I get so overwhelmed with trying to say the right thing, wanting to help them but being stuck at how to do so. In fear of putting people in that same position, I don’t approach them.
However, I find it easier to talk to friends rather than family, with friends there is less bias, and they understand more about the more modern-day woes than the older generation. My close friends also understand my personal issues more than some of my relatives — most of which are still confused about the whole trans thing and have even gone as far as to say that they would support me if I ever wanted to transition back, even as I assure them that that would never happen. Being trans is an extremely personal thing. It is something I think even most trans people don’t fully understand.
One thing all trans people should know is that no matter what, you do what makes you most comfortable, you don’t have to prove yourself to anybody, and you portray yourself however you choose. At the end of the day, it’s your life, you should do whatever you need to do to make yourself happiest.
The most important thing society can do is just to educate themselves, research things, look at it from every perspective. You can look at information about trans people written by a cis person, or you can look at information about trans people written by a trans person and gain a lot more insight. At the end of the day, all anybody wants in this world is respect, so start there, just be respectful. And please, for the love of God, please stop asking us about our genitals.
From the bottom of my anxious heart, I would like to thank all the people who contributed to this piece. Your braveness, boldness, and openness towards sharing your unique perspective is something that has inspired me, and I know will inspire many others too...
Thank you ♥