As a transgender man, Transgender Day of Remembrance is a day that’s near and dear to my heart. For most transgender and gender non-conforming youth, it is one of the ways we honor our elders, peers, and history, even if we cannot come out. In 2023, we are honoring the 19 transgender and non-binary siblings who passed due to transphobia and hate. The uncertainty of being accepted by our family, friends, school, and more can bring up a lot of emotions and mental health concerns, especially in our transgender and gender non-conforming youth, who are the recent target of political agendas.
Transgender Day of Remembrance can be a trigger of anxiety, depression (especially feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness), trauma (if a transgender or non-binary individual experienced discrimination or been “outed”), and stress. I remember as a teenager starting to realize that I am not cisgender, thinking, “With so many trans and non-binary people being killed, does that mean someone will do that to me too? Do I want to accept these parts of me knowing that there are such hateful people in this world?” What I did not realize then was my power and voice in living authentically and true to my gender identity.
As this day can bring up a lot, I want to share three ways that allies can support transgender individuals’ mental health and be an advocate on this day:
- Donate to transgender-affirming non-profits. Active Minds, The Trevor Project, Local LGBT Centers, the Human Rights Campaign, and Transgender Law Center are great places to consider as they have paved the way to support Transgender identities. Money is power and can lead to substantial support.
- Learn about ASK. If a transgender or non-binary person opens up to you about this heavy subject, and you are not sure what to say, Active Minds’ everyday tool goes a long way and can provide the structure for you to be supportive.
- Affirm our identities and boundaries. A reminder that you are there for us and see us as our true selves can help reduce some of the pain. Allow us space to experience today without us having to educate. Google is a great resource if you are unsure of what a term means or curious about transition! Additionally, sharing our posts with permission and simply respecting a transgender or non-binary individual’s decision to or not to come out are great ways to show solidarity. Allow us to decide who knows what parts of us.
If you are a transgender or non-binary individual, I encourage you to continue living your truth (granted, if it is safe to). When I attended Camp Pride this summer, one of the messages I took away was that by simply existing, we have so much power and a chance to use our voice. You deserve to embrace your identity. You deserve to speak your truth. And you deserve all the love, kindness, and support while doing so. Today can be a lot, so here are three ways transgender and non-binary individuals can support their own mental health today:
- Limit social media/technology usage. Limiting my usage has helped me significantly. Being faced with the news or consistent posts about this day can sometimes increase some of those negative experiences and feelings. Taking a break for the day on social media or technology may help to give you more opportunities to live in the moment and experience more positive feelings.
- Increase self-care. Treat yourself with compassion and support today, and maybe take that extra shower or bath, wear your favorite clothes, journal, take a needed nap, or watch a favorite affirming TV show. Whatever you enjoy, you deserve to amplify that today.
- Connect with affirming people. There are many ways to connect with others in the Transgender or non-binary community, even if you are not out yet. If you have allied and affirming friends or a family member, maybe send them a text or give them a call. Finding ways to be around others who are willing to support you is a great way to reduce feelings or urges of isolation and alone.
While today is a stark reminder that we have a long way to go before the world is more accepting of the transgender and non-binary communities, we have the chance to continue the progress we have already made. Today we remember the 19 transgender people lost in 2023, the 47 in 2022, and each year before that due to transphobia. And we celebrate the transgender and non-binary individuals with us, knowing that they deserve to live their truth loud and proud.