Being young is hard enough but for trans people, not living in harmony with their gender identity adds an extra layer of difficulty even in the best of scenarios.
Not living as their true self can lead to a feeling of isolation and lack of self-esteem which affect their mental health.
Fear of violence, discrimination, and the difficulty of accessing life-changing care prevents many transgender individuals from living in harmony with their gender identity. As a result, research suggests that trans people are almost four times as likely as cisgender people to experience a mental health issue.
We talked to Kamíl, Sylvia, Robin, and Axel about their mental health journey.
“You aren’t alone”
For every trans person living in harmony with their gender identity, others are struggling.
Not coming out led to issues of self-esteem and self-acceptance for Kamíl."I never came out as trans. I feel annoyed, disgruntled, and disappointed in my body. I'm nowhere close to harmony or peace with my gender identity."
Kamíl’s message to trans youth struggling with their mental health? "You aren't alone in your struggles and feelings of inadequacy."
Giving the trans community more visibility and access to care can help protect trans lives and prevent life-threatening mental health issues.
“I used to care so much about what others would think”
Before she came out as trans, Sylvia was in a similar situation. She felt isolated and struggled to connect with others.
"I was so depressed and felt like I was lying to everyone in a way. I kept my true self hidden because of fear. I stayed away from social interactions as much as possible, which means I didn't really have any friends."
Coming out brought her a sense of serenity and relief, taking off the burden of pretending to be someone else. "It was scary! But I was relieved and excited to finally show my true self to those I cared most about.”
Sylvia is at peace with her decision but it took a lot of courage to share the truth with her loved ones. "I used to care so much about what others would think. It was debilitating at times. It hurts knowing that my family has completely cut ties because of their feelings toward trans people."
Despite the lack of acceptance from her family, she knows it was the right decision for her. "I don't have to hide my true self anymore. For the first time in what seems like forever, I am actually happy."
Her advice to transgender youth struggling with mental health? "Go to therapy, get a supportive circle, and it will get better."
“Just hold on”
Robin’s journey is a story of resilience. "Before coming out, I was anxious and depressed. When I [did], I felt powerful because I knew it would make my life better but I was scared of hate at the same time. I was treated so badly that I developed borderline personality disorder and C-PTSD.”
The US Transgender Survey reveals disturbing patterns of discrimination, mistreatment, and violence toward trans people. Unsurprisingly, those can have a lasting impact on mental health. In a 2015 study, 63% of respondents reported an emotionally or life-impairing experience of discrimination as transgender individuals.
In spite of the pain he had to endure, Robin found peace living in harmony with his gender identity. He says he feels "happy, even though it was hard."
His message to transgender people struggling with mental health is one of hope.”You have a long road ahead and it’s going to be hard but you’ll meet your forever family and you’ll survive. Just hold on. I used to not believe it could get better, but it really does.”
“One day you’ll be able to live your true self”
Rejection from family members is an unfortunately common problem among the trans community and can lead to increased risks of mental health issues.
This was the case for Axel. "Before coming out, my mental health was sh*t because my home environment was, too. [When I did,] it felt good but my parents didn't accept it; only my sister.”
This attitude didn’t prevent him from finding joy. "[Being myself] feels good. I now live with other family members that accept me and everyone around me does too, so yay!"
Axel wants trans youth to know there are better days ahead. "It'll all be okay. One day you'll be able to live your true self and never put who you really are on the back burner to make other people happy."
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