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Culture and social issues

In this section, you’ll hear our stories about language, stereotypes, and identity struggles, and how they affect our mental health. This is your chance to make a difference. We’ll share some real insights on how you can help us feel accepted, safe, and supported.

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Video transcript

Chris: Sometimes if you make assumptions they can affect our experience in a negative way. Our families or carers are not always our support network, so it’s important that you ask us about this, and consider that when communicating with anyone else on our behalf. This also makes asking and answering questions about LGBTQIA+ issues difficult if these people are around, especially if the young person hasn’t come out to them.

Twyla: Respect our identity and acknowledge that we may have had a lot of challenges already about this. You may be the first person we talk to about it, and the first person to accept this as who we are. Changing our name may also be a huge part of becoming more comfortable with our identity and there’s an opportunity in introductions to establish this. 

Mali: Stereotyping is around us in our society, but these can lead to misconceptions that can affect the care we receive. For example, from their experience, a young person described how conditions like BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) can go undiagnosed because the impact that some symptoms can have on relationships can be dismissed as a result of the young person being bi.

Chris: I identify as non-binary. In terms of my sexual and gender identity, I do often find myself receiving judgement from people who don’t necessarily understand me, although there is definitely a difference between being uneducated and purposefully choosing to attack me. I have had to distance myself from people who refuse to acknowledge my new name and pronouns. I think being non-binary is so much more difficult to explain than being a trans man or woman. I am constantly having to explain myself, having to hear questions like, “but if you had to choose to be either a man or a woman, what would it be?” Why do I have to choose something that I’m not? I’m not choosing to be non-binary. It isn’t that I am confused, it’s how I feel, how I identify, not something that I have any control over.

Jenny: One young person told us: “being a queer person I have had so many occasions of being stereotyped, questions like ‘who’s the man and who’s the woman in the relationship?’ Some people can’t wrap their heads around two men being together.”

Twyla: In our discussions one young person described his experience, saying, ‘I find I am asked about being with someone as people don’t understand at the moment, I don’t want that; I am happy with my own company. It doesn’t mean I will always feel like this, but I think society expects you to want a partner. Other people are asexual or aromantic and this is part of their identity, not a result of poor mental health or a medical reason causing low libido.’

Mali: As we are all different people it’s better not to generalise experiences. Not stereotyping people also means considering people’s beliefs or culture and differences when you are talking with the young person. 

Jenny: It may be that if we are seeing you in person there are other ways that would add to our experience of being understood, for example having gender neutral toilets and not using binary language, instead using terms such as ‘partner.’

Chris: There may also be an assumption that once we come out we are going to be okay, but this isn’t always the case. People may struggle to accept their own identity even after coming out and may struggle with truly loving themselves after being vulnerable. As one young person told us: ‘when I came out there was an initial relief, but years later I’m still scarred by the impact of compressing so much emotion.’

Twyla: Ongoing support after we end our conversation, to someone or someplace else, can be signposted to us explaining what help you’re able to provide or what will happen next. It’s also useful if we are put in touch with organisations where we can make friends with people we relate to. We need space and support to explore how we feel. 

Jenny: One of the professionals we spoke to told us, ‘with young people and children I listen to them, find out what it is they want and try and break it down into small pieces to work through while being honest and trying to gain their trust.’ We think this is great advice.

Twyla: It can take a long time for a person to accept themselves, and they can follow a process of questioning, realisation, denial, acceptance. We have covered lots of different themes but the one thing every Queer young person in crisis has in common is that they are in distress and need your help. It is really significant when we accept ourselves and feel accepted and you can help us reach that point.

So, you’ve heard us. Now it’s time for action. We appreciate your willingness to learn, and we need you to understand the unique challenges we, as young LGBTQIA+ people, face during a mental health crisis. Here are some important takeaways:

  1. Respect our chosen identity and names, but be aware that everyone’s situation is different. Deadnaming can be really hurtful, but sometimes it might be necessary to use a young person’s original name, especially if they’re not ready to disclose their identity to their family or in professional correspondence. Keep in mind the complexities and individual circumstances before making any assumptions.
  2. Ditch the stereotypes. They only lead to misconceptions and can negatively affect the support we receive.
  3. Be mindful of our family situations. Not everyone has a supportive family, so be careful with confidentiality and pronouns when they’re around. Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to helping young LGBTQIA+ people in crisis.

If you’re wondering where to start, learn more about myths and stereotypes from Galop and Stonewall’s LGBTQ myth buster blog . And for mental health support, visit MindOut 

Remember, we need you to listen and break down our concerns into manageable pieces. Trust is key, so be genuine in your efforts. We’re all in this together, and your understanding and acceptance can make a world of difference in our lives. Thank you for being here and for your willingness to support us.

Key Messages

  • Our chosen identity and name matter. Honour the trust we’ve placed in you by respecting our choices and understanding our unique circumstances.
  • Stereotypes are everywhere, but they only create misconceptions that can hinder the care and support LGBTQIA+ young people receive. So, ditch the stereotypes and see us for who we really are.
  • Be a good listener. Understand our needs, break down our concerns into manageable pieces, and work through them with us honestly and openly. Building trust is crucial.
  • Remember, every LGBTQIA+ young person in crisis is in distress and needs help. You might be the first person we turn to for support, so be prepared to be our lifeline when we need it most.