Being a trans young person isn’t easy right now – this is how I’m looking after my mental health

Just Like Us ambassador, Ree Young.

Being a transgender person in the UK right now isn’t easy. Transgender Europe’s trans rights map showed how the UK was previously ranked top of the Trans Rights Index in 2013, yet in 2023 it sat at 21st.

So when you’re swamped with breaking news about attacks on young trans women, new sporting bans or restrictions on access to healthcare – what are your options for taking care of yourself?

Take time to understand yourself and the kind of community you’d like to build

If you’re feeling exhausted by everything around you, it could be a good time to try and think about what actually makes you feel good.

There are all kinds of activities we can take part in depending on our interests and energy levels. A good resource is The Trans Dimension which is regularly updated with events – you can even join specific Reddit pages.

For example, some people enjoy exercise, with websites such as Trans Can Sport making it easier to find ways to get involved, while other people prefer connecting with others through crafts and games.

Just Like Us ambassador, Ree Young.
Just Like Us ambassador, Ree Young. (Supplied)

There are so many ways we can look after ourselves through our hobbies, both solo and in groups, whether by going to the gym, joining a pan disability football group, taking a dog to the park, playing video games with siblings, starting a new Dungeons and Dragons campaign or simply reading a book.

If in-person events are not accessible for you, there are always opportunities to join in virtually, from Discord groups to Zoom parties.

Surround yourself with good people

This is exactly what it says on the tin! Make sure you have good people around you who make you feel good. This could include making you feel comfortable and accepted in your identity directly, or people who share your interests, opinions or boundaries.

It can be difficult to find the right people who make us feel good, and the people we have in our lives can look different to others’. But by evaluating who we are and how we fit into the world, we’re able to find others who allow us to be free and true to ourselves.

There are always new opportunities waiting. You could look into volunteering or interning at a company you’ve followed for the past few years, where new people and new skills are waiting. A great way I’ve done this is through the Just Like Us Ambassador programme.

As you’ve begun to try new things and meet new people, your cup will begin to overflow with love and block out the negativity in the press or on social media.

You can even start to collect these memories in a way that’s special to you such as setting up a shared Google Drive.

Discover and rediscover

While you continue to grow your interests and friendships, it’s important to realise that you have
always known who you are (it’s just society who tricks us to think we are confused!)

This means that you might have some things closer to home that can help you.

This could be something as simple as the drumming kit you’ve not touched since you were 14,
friends that you’re scared to approach since you transitioned, or the teddy that comforts you when
you sleep – except it’s fallen under the bed and lives there now.

Rediscover the things that made you feel good before, whatever they were and delve into new
areas that you’ve been excited to try out.

You might just realise some things have been outgrown, some have come back to you, and thenew found interests are helping you to grow.

Support groups

We’ve all had anxious thoughts, but for trans young people like me, they might be more frequent
than usual. “But what if…” “Will someone bother me?!” “Is that person staring…”

In order to counteract these thoughts, support groups can help you share experiences, struggles
and the progress you’ve made.

Gendered Intelligence offers community picnics which bring together transgender youth and their
families. This gives the chance to meet other transgender young people, talk to families, hang out
in a new place you might not have been to before, and to receive supportive information from the
charity all at the same time!

There are many other groups available that encompass the vastness of trans lives, so that we are
all able to find a space where we can feel comfortable as we are. This could look like a disability
charity like SCOPE, a faith group or place of worship, or an accepting space that connects to your
specific identity.

Having the help of support groups can back up all the work you’re doing to look after yourself, with a clearer head and improved support system.

Those affected by the issues included in this article should contact Childline (0800 1111), Samaritans (116 123), or Switchboard (0800 0119 100). Ree is an ambassador for Just Like Us, the LGBT+ young people’s charity. LGBT+ and 18 to 25? Sign up here!