GenderGP’s head of therapy Marianne Oakes shares her thoughts following today’s announcement by ITV’s Philip Schofield:
I have been overwhelmed by the warmth and love with which national treasure, Philip Schofield’s announcement that he is gay, was received today. As a trans woman, the degree of negativity and general unkindness I see levelled at the LGBT+ community on a daily basis, can sometimes make me forget quite how accepting people can be.
We must always remember that while there are some extremely vocal haters in society, the majority of people are kind, just look at Holly Willoughby’s response to the news if you don’t believe me.
I hope that in seeing Schofe’s courage, those countless LGBT+ individuals hiding their true selves, whether in a heteronormative marriage or relationship, can see that being true to ourselves doesn’t have to mean the end of life as we know it.
I hear stories everyday in my counselling sessions at GenderGP. The overwhelming fear at the thought that, in sharing their truths, their lives will implode. The fear that they will break their families apart, that they will be abandoned and left alone can be so crippling that they feel they can only continue to live a lie.
It takes an incredible amount of strength to accept yourself for who you are. To believe that you can be seen for who you are and you can be loved.
I speak from first hand experience. My wife has been with me every step of my journey as a trans woman and while she hasn’t always understood, she has always loved me.
Schofe’s family is proof that no matter how hard it may be to be honest about such matters, it doesn’t have to be the end. His wife of 27 years, his daughters and his wider family have shown that there is a way forward, even if they are still working through the details of what that might look like.
As he said in his statement: “You never know what’s going on in someone’s seemingly perfect life, what issues they are struggling with, or the state of their wellbeing”
Seeing a high profile figure go through the process so many of our patients go through should give some hope to those hiding in the shadows fearful of recrimination and shame. The message is clear: you can be loved for who you are.
Kindness is not dead, there’s plenty of it around, you just have to be brave enough to ask for it.