Some young people can find it challenging to talk about their sexuality and gender identity. Many children have told Childline they are worried about how others might receive them and that they might face prejudice or bullying.
Childline believes every young person should be free to talk about their gender identity and sexuality and not have to live in fear of judgement.
Over the last year, Childline delivered 4,125 counselling sessions to young people with concerns around gender identity and sexuality.
Among these concerns, the top five issues that young people spoke to the service’s trained counsellors about were:
- experiences of coming out
- questioning their sexuality or gender identity
- gender dysphoria
- discrimination and prejudice related to sexuality or gender identity
For anyone struggling with their gender identity and sexuality, here’s some advice from Alex Gray, Service Head of Childline:
- Speak to a trusted adult. Sharing how you feel can be scary, but it can help build your confidence and help you feel less alone. If you don’t have a trusted adult you feel you can talk to or are looking for further support you can talk to Childline on 0800 1111 or online at childline.org.uk. You can also find more advice on topics such as coming out, sex, relationships, bullying and discrimination on the website.
- Get support from people you trust or reach out to other young people on the Childline message boards. Speaking to a peer will help you feel less alone; they can relate to what you’re going through and share advice from their own experiences.
- Distract yourself when things feel difficult and overwhelming. You could do this by listening to music or playing a game.
- Let your feelings out by talking to someone you trust, writing them down or creating something.
- Express who you are in a way that feels comfortable to you. This will help you feel more confident.
- If you are questioning your gender identity, you can visit your GP. They can talk to you about ways to cope and share what support is available
Andreena Leeanne is a Lived Experience Speaker, Writing Workshop Facilitator, Author & Poet. Her poetry collection, “CHARRED a survivor speaks her truth to inspire”, was published in October 2020. She also runs Poetry LGBT, a regular spoken-word poetry event for the LGBT+ community.
I’m an out and proud Black Lesbian. I own that identity, and I embrace it. My partner and I have been together for ten years now. Because of my upbringing, growing up around homophobic comments, listening to homophobic music, etc., I assumed I had to be with a man. I tried to live a heteronormative life but reached a point where I knew I wanted to live as my true self and ‘came out’ as a lesbian when I was around 23.
Living my truth lets me lead with compassion and kindness in my life, to myself and others. I know it isn’t always easy to share your true self. You can lose people, and it does hurt, but you find your chosen family, which is wonderful. As you get older, you get to choose for yourself what’s important. What’s important to me is that I can live authentically.
When you’re young, it often feels like everything is ‘right now’, but some things take time, and that’s OK. I’m 41 years old now, and it’s taken me a long time to get to who I am today. To any young person considering ‘coming out’, I’d say be mindful of who you want to share with and put your safety first. Childline and services like it are a blessing. If young people need someone to talk to, they can speak to Childline and know they can trust the person to listen without judging.
Life is a journey of a long time. No two journeys are the same; wherever you are in your journey, you are valid. Some people might not be ready to accept your truth, but that doesn’t make you any less amazing. You are you, and there’s no one else exactly like you.