Lives on Pause: Being gender diverse, trans*, genderqueer in the age of COVID-19
As the weeks have crawled along, I’ve noticed many of the support articles published in the wake of this pandemic do not directly address the unique struggles of the LGBTQ+ community. While some of my clients have found welcome relief in quarantine life, others have felt increasing levels of anxiety, depression, and gender dysphoria. , or in our Young Adult Gender Diverse Group As life becomes virtual, strict quarantine has provided some uniquely positive and negative experiences. While some of my clients have found welcome relief in quarantine life, others have felt increasing levels of anxiety, depression, and gender dysphoria.
Those who are in active stages of medical and social transition, life has essentially been “put on hold.” The coronavirus has halted important milestones, including name and gender marker changes, fingerprinting, medication appointments to test hormone levels, access to prescriptions, and surgeries. This has created a significant amount of anxiety and devastation for those who have looked forward to living more authentically. It often takes months and even years to build up the courage to take these steps. Now, we have to sit back and wait, again.
Wearing masks and relying on webcams for social connection provides relief for some, as gendered features may be easier to hide. For others, this wreaks havoc on their self-confidence, increases gender dysphoria and prevents simple daily tasks, like grocery shopping.
For those in isolation, this is a difficult time to find community as many of the LGBTQ+ support groups are no longer meeting. Many of my clients are searching for new communities, looking to Reddit or other online services to provide social reprieve from the loneliness of existing in a cisgender world. For those who haven’t come out to certain family members, living with them can create additional barriers and push many back into the closet they worked so hard to leave behind. On the other hand,, those who are in affirming homes may appreciate the ability to be themselves more of the time now that they are more isolated from the pressures of the outside world. Having the privacy to explore one’s authentic gender presentation without the intimidation of public gendered fitting rooms can be another added perk for those in this situation, while others may find that “online shopping” can be a never-ending game of purchase and return.
Regardless of whether quarantine has helped, or hurt, or a mixture of both, I welcome the exploration of these challenges together.
Dr. Emily A. Kerr is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and owner of EK Counseling, LLC,a Denver therapy practice. With over eight years of experience treating individuals and couples, she brings her candor, humor, and motivation to each session. She specializes in eating disorders, body image struggles, sexuality and gender, life transitions, general anxiety, and building self-esteem. If you are struggling to make a transition, or you just need extra support to create lasting lifestyle changes, please call to schedule an appointment.