We have all felt pressure to try to fit in with dominant ideas about how people are meant to be – like what people believe to be ‘normal’. One of us spoke about how ‘everyone has a different view of normal. It depends on who you are, your cultural beliefs, your views, your family. Its all kind of linked in I guess’. Another one of us described how, ‘It’s the pressure of bullying, fitting in and being accepted which can lead to self-harm and suicide attempts. They leave a profound impact on us. They impact on us mentally. We start to doubt ourselves, think ‘am I normal?’ or ‘is there something wrong with me?’.
Some of us spoke about experiences of feeling alone at school, amongst our friends or in our family. One of us said, ‘I lost a lot of friends. When I was at school I felt alone. I felt there was no one I could talk to properly in class, like on a table I would be always be one of two people sitting alone in the back corner. Even the teacher wouldn’t pay as much attention to me as everyone else in the class’. Another one of us described how, ‘I felt like my family had deserted me, my friends had deserted me and at times I started wondering if my life was really worth living, which obviously led to the suicide attempts’.
One of us who recently came out as bisexual, explained ‘I didn’t really know what to do. I sort of came out on Facebook. It was kind of stupid in a way but it felt like the right time, right place. Quite a lot of people supported my decision but I got a lot of really vile disgusting comments and death threats. I had really bad confidence issues. I tried to hide it and it kind of lessened the bullying and name calling to a point but it didn’t feel right trying to be someone that I’m just not, trying to fit in with the social norms and be accepted’.
Lots of young trans people have a big issue using the bathroom when you’re in a public place. It can cause a lot of problems because people don’t always understand what being trans means. Lots of the time trans people either don’t use the bathroom, use the disabled bathroom, or have to use a bathroom of a gender they don’t identify with.
Especially for non-binary people like if you aren’t either male or female then you know, which toilet are you supposed to use? I had a huge fight with my school when I first came out, cause fairly obviously I didn’t want to use the girls toilets and they were like, ‘Oh yeah, just use the disabled toilet’. It should be that they let people use the toilets they feel most comfortable using. It’s like they were trying to make it easier for intolerant students. They were compromising the individual student’s wellbeing and emotional safety in favour of other students and teachers being close minded.
After having realised that I’m not actually binary, I feel like if I go into male toilets like I’m also kind of lying. I definitely don’t feel uncomfortable about my own gender going into a men’s toilet, but I’m scared of cis men in general. We as trans people are at significant risk of serious physical harm. And there is the idea in patriarchal culture about cis men being the most important. If there was a gender neutral toilet rather than a disabled toilet I would rather be using that but hardly anywhere has that.
Everyone has their own views and beliefs about the world and for some, anything outside of what they believe in just isn’t right to them and can’t be accepted. One of us described how ‘When I realised I was gay I felt like I had to try and change myself and try and pretend I was straight to not get bullied. It’s really tough to keep this from people in the fear that you may be disowned or kicked out and I felt I had to keep it from my family too. This led me into massive depression, feeling suicidal every day and beginning to self-harm’.
There are a lot of people who judge and who don’t really understand how other people feel. Like another one of us described, ‘Because I am transgender they think it is kind of weird in my school to want to be the opposite gender so I get bullied a lot in school for it’. When talking about this sort of prejudice and discrimination one of us said, ‘It annoys me to think that some of these things are even an issue! I just think it’s stupid that some things are an issue to people who it really shouldn’t concern, at all, it’s wrong’.
We believe that something as simple as like what your gender is (in relation to the gender you were assigned at birth) or who you’re attracted to in relation to your own gender, is not something that impacts at all on your value as a human being.
So If someone’s going to treat you differently because of this, they obviously don’t have respect for other people in general so having to interact with them is difficult to say the least. One of us explained how, ‘when I was properly coming out at school, some teachers actually said ‘I don’t think it is appropriate to use the right name and pronouns for you. You hear ‘I don’t think it appropriate’! It’s more inappropriate if teachers insist on referring to a student in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable’.