18th July 2022 Blog

Mental health & gender: “It’s the only way to be comfortable with your identity”

Inequality • LGBTQ+ •

Following International Non-Binary People’s Day, we spoke to McPin YPAG member Chris about gender, being non-binary and the impact it can have on someone’s mental health.

Chris Sims

I’m someone who personally relates to both genders. I don’t identify with both male and female.

I personally see myself as a feminine male, and I’ve never related to myself as the typical stereotypical male gender. I feel like I have a blend of both genders, never really fitting into the mould of either.

It was tough when I was younger because I didn’t really see myself fitting in. I was definitely friends with more feminine males, and I feel like I’ve always been closer to females as well.

I relate to the gender of a female more than a male, but I still don’t identify with either gender myself. I don’t feel like I fit into a box.

When I was a bit younger than I am now, I opened up about this to my parents – and it’s quite a hard thing to open up to anyone.

“I don’t feel like I fit into a box”

It’s not really a simple and easy thing to explain to people, especially my parents, because I think during the older generations, being non-binary wasn’t really known about.

It’s not something which I knew about when I was younger, but I think it’s a really important topic to explore and discuss.

It’s something which needs to be more openly shared about – and the more it’s openly shared the better.

I personally felt that by opening up to my parents when I was younger. It was a difficult moment, but the more I’ve explained it to them, the better it’s gotten.

Find non-judgemental support

If you don’t have supportive parents, go to a best friend or a friend; someone who would be non-judgemental and allow you to be yourself and explore yourself, regardless of what identity you correlate with.

It’s really important to reach out for support because there’ll be someone in your life who does try to understand, even if they don’t really understand.

It’s really important to express how you feel and what you’re thinking. That’s the only way that you actually will be comfortable with your identity in the long term.

I’ve personally got a couple of friends who do support me with my definition and my identity of non-binary, and that’s been priceless really.

“One person’s enough”

I’ve also got a mental health team in the community, and they really helped me with identity issues, sexuality issues, and exploring that side of things, as well as other mental health illnesses, which I’ve also been diagnosed with.

I personally feel having a therapist, key worker or nurse that you could reach out to, if you’ve got that support available, is something to definitely explore – whether it’s mental health-based or you wanting to explore your identity.

If you can, make sure that you do have one person to go to. One person’s enough. It doesn’t have to be everyone.

If there are people who do judge you for being non-binary, then that’s up to them. That’s their own thoughts and their own judgements about it.

And there’s always going to be other support groups around as well, that do offer support for LGBT+ individuals, and non-binary will also fall into that. I would really research and look into that.

There’s a lot of online support when it comes to LGBTQ+ communities. Google is a lifesaver nowadays. There are a lot of charities and a lot of websites which do offer support in a non-judgmental way. They’ll help you feel comfortable and accepted.

LGBTQ+ mental health research

I think that mental health research which collaborates with non-binary individuals needs to be something looked into more deeply.

There is a desperate need for more support within mental healthcare settings in general, but specifically when it comes to the LGBTQ+ population there is a big stigma still when it comes to this, and a feeling of being unheard within today’s society.

I think more investment, funding and research into non-binary topics and gender fluidity would be amazing because, not only would it allow further information and opinions heard from individuals that would be willing to take part, but it would also allow an increase in awareness of the non-binary population.

It would also enhance individuals to feel more open with coming out as a non-binary individual; whether that be to their loved ones, friends or any person that they trust most.

Having further research that includes the personal perspective of non-binary individuals would also be essential as it needs to come directly from these group of people that identify as such, and would therefore be more accurate when it comes to finding out what services and support would be most suitable for them.

Have your say

If you’re non-binary, or an LGBTQ+ young person, McPin needs you!

We’re collaborating with the Trevor Project and are looking for LGBTQ+ young people aged 13-24 for paid work to give vital feedback and steer on the project.

Don’t miss out – deadline to register is Friday 29th July at 9am.