Author: The Queer Therapist
No Straight Answers: A fiercely queer guide to love, life and mental health.
Chris Grant, The Queer Therapist, is a trans non binary psychotherapist, sex and relationship therapist, Diversity, Inclusion and Equality Consultant and health content writer who specialises in trans and queer mental health, sex and relationships.
Brought to you by GLUE Magazine, No Straight Answers is a fiercely queer, non-hnormative column that looks at love, life and relationship through a queer lens.
You can follow The Queer Therapist on their social channels @theqtherapist
I am yet to meet a fellow queer who doesn’t struggle on some level to trust.
We all have ‘walls’ but, within our LGBTQIA+ community, they are sky-high and often for good reason.
Understanding why these walls exist, bringing awareness to when they are unhelpful and learning how to counteract mistrustful impulses is a core part of my work as a queer and trans therapist.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating for blind trust, or an abuse of trust – we have protective impulses for a reason. But the ability to trust and form long lasting relationships is key to a healthier, happier and more empowered lifestyle.
So with the ongoing brutality of our reality…
How can we grow a thriving community of queer peers if we’re all moving around with our walls up?
Let’s dig a little deeper…
Why does trust matter anyway?
We know that the ability to trust is key when it comes to sustainable and meaningful relationships. We also know that without meaningful relationships our mental health suffers.
Let’s be clear, being queer does not automatically mean you have mental health issues. But our collective trauma and the systemic oppression of our community certainly doesn’t help.
We know that growing up as a queer person in a world that stigmatises queer identities can be internalised in a way that negatively impacts mental health.
For some folk, stigma about their identity can result in feelings of deep shame and low self worth. For others it develops into deep-seated trust issues and fear of rejection.
‘You grow through, what you go through’
Many of us understand that our development as a child massively impacts how we interact with the world and each other as adults.
Our experiences and development as young adults are particularly crucial when it comes to understanding how to navigate trust.
It’s the time where we mirror our peers, experiment with a sense of style, and find our confidence navigating boundaries.
But for those of us who grew up under section 28, for example, and didn’t learn about queer experiences at school, didn’t have queer friends and didn’t have any realistic queer role models to mirror, we often missed out on that space and time to navigate being an independent human being.
We were denied a safe space to learn about our bodies, boundaries and sense of self.
What many LGBTQIA+ folks don’t realise is that without that dedicated space and time to learn, try and fail in a safe environment, we are at risk of real development issues.
Developmental issues occur when our sense of self is stunted. To develop a strong sense of self and our own boundaries we need a chance to explore in an affirming environment and somewhere we can see and mirror people who we believe are like us.
What are developmental issues?
Essentially development issues translate into trust issues, autonomy issues and intimacy issues as an adult. They mean we are less able to trust our instincts when it comes to setting boundaries, asking for help and letting people in.
As usual, there is no straight answer to this.
It takes time, self compassion and dedication to unlearn those impulses of mistrust and build a clear sense of healthy boundaries.
But we can start by sharing our experiences, taking time to mirror and connect with our queer peers as an adult and by getting curious when we feel those familiar mistrusting impulses coming into play.
Ask yourself why, be compassionate and perhaps lower that wall, even if it’s just a foot or so.