COVID-19 and transgender mental health

Let’s face it: No one is at their best right now.

Because of the pandemic, nearly everyone across the world is feeling a level of anxiety and grief that we haven’t experienced before. It’s no wonder that, since June, the Mental Health Association is reporting an increase of 169,000 patients diagnosed with moderate to severe depression.

It’s imperative that we take the rest of 2020 to focus on supporting one another through such an uneasy and difficult time. But beyond that, we need to take into account our most vulnerable. So, without trying to hard to sound like a cliche, we’re going to use some “now more than ever” lingo. Now more than ever, we need to keep in mind the mental health of transgender youth across the world.

A recent article from the Washington Post told us the facts that we didn’t want to hear but assumed were true. Transgender youth have always been at higher risk of depression and suicidal tendencies, and since the pandemic, the crisis has grown exponentially.

“Since the pandemic began, crisis calls to Trans Lifeline — a crisis telephone line staffed by transgender people — have risen 40 percent and continue to climb. At Whitman-Walker, an LGBTQ-focused community health center in Washington, mental health providers are seeing 25 percent more patients than they did before the pandemic, and they are no longer able to accept new referrals. Transgender peer support groups at Whitman-Walker have also reached capacity since the start of the pandemic.”

The reality of 2020 is this: even if cases drop, and even if we fast-route a vaccine by winter, things will still be uneasy and anxiety-ridden through the end of the year. Why? Because there’s this small event called an election happening in less than four months, and transgender youth are going to be watching the results in fear of losing future opportunities to thrive.

We’re not writing this post to be Debbie Downers. Trust us – we’re not! Our goal is to emphasize the – and here comes the cliche – need for us to focus on supporting our transgender youth now more than ever.

So, what can you to do be an ally? Here are a few ideas:

  • Take your kids to PFLAG events. We get it – Zoom fatigue is real, and when you get a virtual invite from us, you’re probably dreading the idea of staying on yet another conference call for 90 minutes. But we need to ensure that our kids stay connected to one another, and while it’s not as good as an in-person event, it’s still a great opportunity to be together.
  • Volunteer with us. Because of COVID, volunteer hours across the world have dramatically decreased. Luckily, you can lead teen socials and support groups without leaving your home! Contact us to get started.
  • Show your support. Whether you are stating your pronouns on your social handles or correcting misguided language from a family member or co-worker, being an ally means being an ally even in uncomfortable situations. After all you never know who is paying attention to you.

If you need support right now, we’re hear for you. Please do not hesitate to reach out, because, now more than ever, we need to be here for one another.

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