After a friend of mine in college came out as trans, I saw how much happier he was.
He no longer had to pretend to be someone he wasn’t, and it was amazing to see him become more comfortable and confident in his own skin — and ultimately less lonely.
In fact, I also struggled with loneliness as a queer person.
In addition, a combination of social and emotional isolation both also contribute to trans and non-binary individuals feeling lonely, usually pointing to a need for more meaningful social connections.
Social isolation occurs when people don’t have enough social interactions on a daily basis. Emotional isolation, which occurs when individuals have a social network that they don’t fully connect with, manifests in feeling misunderstood or lacking support.
For trans and non-binary adolescents and young adults specifically, lack of family acceptance can increase the risk of loneliness and suicidal ideation.
Historically, transgender and non-binary identities were often viewed as problems to be fixed in western society — the World Health Organization only removed the term “transsexualism” from its International Classification of Diseases (ICD) in 2018 — and the medicalization of gender-nonconforming individuals resulted in negative practices such as “conversion therapy.”
Overall, attitudes towards transgender and non-binary people are changing at a societal level, but it can take time for gender-nonconforming individuals to feel the effects of these changes.
As a result, non-binary and trans loneliness is still common among the LGBTQ+ community.
How Transgender And Non-Binary People Can Cope With Loneliness
Everyone’s situation is different, but there are several ways gender-nonconforming people can cope with their loneliness, including:
- Being aware of LGBTQ-friendly resources that can serve as a lifeline to you if you’re struggling emotionally or mentally.
- Surrounding yourself with people who love and support you.
Support from family is especially important for youth and young adults, but if you don’t have support from family, search elsewhere — studies suggest that having your identity affirmed can improve your mental health.
- Find other transgender, non-binary, and other LGBTQ+ people who you can talk to!
Other LGBTQ+ people can help you feel less alone, and you can share stories and trade advice with people whose experiences are similar to yours.
When you spend time with people who accept and love you for who you are, you don’t have to worry about hiding your true identity.
As a whole, having a supportive network can help you face challenges and celebrate the victories in your life.
- Grow and learn to both accept, and be confident in, your gender identity.
This can be a slow process but can help you to better navigate life day-to-day.
Spending time with affirming people, politely correcting someone if you are misgendered, setting boundaries in a respectful manner, and focusing on positive emotions you feel when you can fully express your gender identity can help you feel more confident.
Trust that you know yourself, and trust that every part of you — including your gender identity — is worthy of respect, happiness, and love.