Today’s blog is written by a volunteer who has asked that she remain anonymous. Here are her views on coming out of lockdown.
“The pandemic has been challenging for most people and for trans or non-binary people it’s been a mixed blessing.
For some who have only just come out whilst in lockdown and have yet to go out as their true selves it’s been a time of self exploration and contemplation. For others it’s been a chance to avoid the stresses of interacting with people or having to deal with negative situations.
As life gets back to normal we have to come to terms with going out again, interacting with people again. Socialising in wider circles and stopping wearing a mask whilst out.
For some masks have been a hindrance, meaning that they have felt trapped or somehow constrained. For others it’s been a gift, because some of the the signs used visually by others to determine a persons gender have been partially hidden and people have had to look for other visual triggers beyond just the face in order to determine someone’s gender.
For me although I haven’t left the house often. The biggest advantage has been the removal of the need to wear for make up due to the coverage of the mask which has made each day simpler.
Returning to normal or at least to the new normal will be hard for most if not everybody (it certainly will be hard for me) as we’ve all been in lockdown for so long.
For me it almost feels like starting again in some ways, getting the correct style of clothing for the situation, wearing full make-up and accessorising. I know how to do all but I have just had a year of not having to, and so it feels a little strange again.
Trans people such as myself can sometimes feel like we live out lives behind a figurative mask every day until we accept who we are. I had a shield, a protective barrier, a mask. I used a facade to show the world what I thought the world needs to see. At least until acceptance and realisation of my true self allowed me to accept who I was, to value myself as an individual.
This outer presentation was the result of a very careful and precise observation of those people around me. When I took on the role and mannerisms of the gender binary that I was not but have to conform to, I was constantly on guard and are wary of slipping in some way and letting people see my true self and as such I was hyper aware of myself and others reactions to me (whether real or perceived).
Being hyper aware has its positives and its negatives. Obviously it’s key to being able to determine those mannerisms behaviours and actions which define the gender norm. Unfortunately it can also lead to us being hypercritical of ourselves and of overthinking our mannerisms and behaviours in such a way that we start to doubt ourselves and feel uncomfortable or afraid of once again going into situations.
This is especially true when we all have spent so much time in lockdowns sometimes alone or in a very restricted social or family groups.
I personally haven’t left the house in over a year, other than for health appointments and my COVID jabs and it feels hard to find a good reason to go out!
In many ways the end of the pandemic feels like a further coming out in that we all have to feel confident in ourselves. We all need to fling open the door and present our true selves proudly and without regret or apology to others and return to presenting and socialising as we wish to.
Just like coming out the first time we need to give ourselves permission to be worried , scared and nervous and accept that we ca feel vulnerable as we once again bear our souls to those around us.
We shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves though. We don’t need to worry about every action and reaction of ourselves or those around us. I don’t need external validation or to somehow conform to those ideals set by others. I will be happy to be myself and live my life as authentically as possible.
The pandemic has taken a lot from us, and those around us; but the pandemic will not win, it is now time to go back out into the world to live life as we wish to and be our true selves.
I for one will not be hard on myself, I know it may be scary at times and everybody will be different in some way after such a pivotal event, but I know that I can be my true self, be strong and be proud, especially in this month of Pride.
Want to support trans+ people coming out of lockdown? We’re looking for volunteers at the moment both to continue our online support and to help us get our face to face support back up and running. Click here for more information and how to apply.