We know that for many queer and trans people going home for the holiday season can be triggering. However, we also would like to focus on the joys of celebrating who you are with those who love and accept you.
How to Survive the Holiday Season
The holiday season can be a wonderful reunion with family and friends as well as an unsafe space to be who you are. Whether you decide to be your authentic self or hide behind a façade of cis-heteronormativity, you should be proud of yourself. It is not easy to find courage in being you when your family does not support you. Remember that your is the only opinion that matters when it comes to your identity.
Make sure you prioritise your safety. If you can, set some boundaries with your family to protect your mental well-being. If that is not possible, it is always okay to lie about who you are. This does not make you any less queer or trans.
Chosen family is still family. You do not have to celebrate the holiday season with your blood relatives. You can choose to spend it with friends who make you feel whole. Friends who become family because they see you for who you are and celebrate you for it.
The holiday season can also be a source of joy and celebration. Queer and trans people’s lives are multifaceted and many experience happiness when coming home. If you can, ask your friends or supportive family members to buy you a gender-affirming present for Christmas – if you celebrate it of course!
The holiday season is an opportunity for you to explore your gender identity, ask for new gifts and give incredible gifts in return. If you know someone who is trans, ask them what they would like to receive.
The Trevor Project is a suicide prevention support service for LGBTQ+ youth. Research by the Trevor Project found that having at least one accepting adult in one’s life can reduce the likelihood of a young queer and trans person attempting suicide by 40%. Therefore, if you have trans children, make sure to support and accept them for who they are. This will improve their mental health and overall well-being.
Please remember that if you feel completely alone and would like to speak to someone, we are here for you. We offer online counselling sessions for you to talk through your issues with a professional gender specialist. You can talk about your gender, your family, or simply have someone to listen to. You are not alone. If you can, speak to one of our counsellors this holiday season. Our counselling services will be available throughout the entire festive period.
Resources That Can Help You
While we do offer counselling sessions, we do not specialise in emergency services. We have compiled a list of emergency services you can access instead this holiday season:
- Mermaids: This organisation offers an online chat, helpline (0808 801 0400), and a 24/7 text number (85258), if you are in a crisis and need help. The chat and helpline services are open Monday to Friday from 9am to 9pm. You will be able to speak to trained operators and experienced clinical supervisors.
- Samaritans: They offer mental health support where you can speak to a Samaritan. Their helpline (116 123) is open 24/7.
- Switchboard: If you identify as LGBTQ+, you can call Switchboard on 0300 330 0630. The helpline is open every day from 10am to 10pm. The phone operators all identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community. Switchboard also offers online chat and email services.
- Galop: This LGBTQ+ organisation offers different helplines depending on your personal issue. They have a domestic abuse helpline, a hate crime helpline and a national conversion therapy helpline for LGBTQ+ people.
- Call 111, option 2: You can call this helpline if you are struggling with your mental health and feel that you are in immediate danger of harming yourself or someone else.
- You can find additional helplines on the Gendered Intelligence website.
- Ireland: There are several LGBTQ+ organisations that offer support in Ireland. TENI (Transgender Equality Network Ireland) focuses specifically on trans and gender diverse people. Belong To is one of Ireland’s main LGBTQ+ youth organisation. For additional support, visit LGBT Ireland, Outhouse, and Gender Rebels Cork, a peer support group for trans, non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming people.
- Sweden: The main LGBTQ+ organisation in Sweden is the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Rights (RFSL). You can call them on 020 34 13 16. They also provide face-to-face support and online counselling sessions. Visit their support service for more detailed information.
- Finland: Seta ry is the main LGBTQ+ rights organisations in Finland. They have a centre dedicated to the gender diverse and intersex community. If you would like to speak to one of their staff members, such as their social worker or psychologist, visit their website.
- Germany: The Lesben- und Schwulenverband in Deutschland (LSVD) is an LGBTQ+ organisation dedicated to the legal and social equality of queer, trans and gender diverse people. While they do not act as a support service, you may find their work and campaigns useful as a starting point. If you are experiencing violence or abuse based on your sexuality or gender identity, contact MANEO. They are an anti-violence and anti-hate crime group based in Berlin. They offer counselling and recovery services.
- Netherlands: The COC Netherland has been helping and advocating for the LGBTQ+ community since the late 1940s. This Dutch queer and trans rights group is the oldest existing LGBTQ+ organisation in the world. You can visit their office by contacting them for an appointment.
- The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association Europe (ILGA) is one of the largest organisations committed to advancing LGBTQ+ rights around the world. They are not a support group. However, you may still find it helpful to contact them and ask for information on who else to call and what to do in situations of emergencies.
- Call 112 for the European Emergency Number.
- USA: For people living in the US, The Trevor Project is a suicide prevention organisation for LGBTQ+ youth. They offer 24/7 support services. You can reach out to one of their counsellors by calling 1-866-488-7386, texting them on 678-678, or using their online chat services.
- CheckPoint is a website that provides you with a list of resources and helplines available in other international countries around the globe.
It has been a difficult year for many, especially for the LGBTQ+ community. So be proud of yourself for existing and making it through the entire year and this holiday season. 2023 will be a new year filled with new possibilities. Be yourself with those you can and celebrate the person you have become!