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COVID-19 & Trans, Gender Diverse, Non-Binary Communities

Although it won't be around forever, COVID-19 is affecting our trans, gender diverse, and non-binary (TGDNB+) communities right now. Some challenges might seem overwhelming, but we're here to help.

Here are a few questions our trans, gender diverse, and non-binary communities might have at the moment.

What if I'm in lockdown with a less than loving household?
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While we're in lockdown and away from our affirming communities, it might mean living in a household with family members or others who don't affirm our gender identity. Being able to connect digitally with people who do affirm us is especially valuable right now and something we all deserve.

If catching up via Zoom or FaceTime is tricky, consider using headphones to keep the conversation private. Turn off video (or make it visible to other party only) so you don't have to see yourself on screen constantly. If you can, use your mobile phone instead of your computer and go for a walk outside — getting some outdoor exercise is permitted, but check with the health department in your state or territory for the latest laws and guidelines.

For more suggestions on making it through, check out 9 Strategies for Quarantining in a Non-LGBTQ+ Affirming Environment.

If there are issues around family violence, don't hesitate to contact our Family Violence services on (03)9865 6700 or you can check out With Respect.

What if my elective surgery has been cancelled?
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Many trans and gender diverse folks invest time and savings planning for gender-affirming surgeries or waiting for specialist appointments. With such a focus on reaching that important milestone, we recognise having these rescheduled or postponed can be distressing.

If you need to speak with a trans and gender diverse friendly counsellor - click here.

The decision to cancel elective surgeries has not been taken lightly. While the coronavirus pandemic continues, it's important our healthcare systems are protected to help save lives. To avoid being exposed to the virus or passing it on, being away from hospitals is for the best in spite of any disappointment.

Remember, even though surgeries have been cancelled for now, they can take place in the future. While waiting, there are other opportunities to help distract from this, such as focussing on physical health, exercise, diet, hobbies, or exploring affirming online spaces such as ACON’s new TransHub.

How can I access hormones?
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Although doctors are now able to offer telehealth appointments, that doesn't enable them to give you your next injection.

However, some TGD health services in Victoria are jumping in to help:

What's the deal with sex right now?
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Although Thorne Harbour is calling for everyone in our communities to stop having casual sex, that doesn't mean there's a ban on pleasure.

Check out Sex & COVID-19 for answers to frequently asked questions about casual sex and sex with partners, as well as tips for exploring self-pleasure, toys, phone sex, cybersex and more.

Recognising that our sexual desires don't just switch off, the team at Emen8 have also produced a resource especially for guys into other guys (cis and trans) who might be wondering: What’s the deal with hooking up right now?

What are my rights in regards to new laws around the pandemic?
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We know that COVID19 is putting extra strain on our LGBTIQ community in so many different ways right now.

The LGBTIQ Legal Service is here to help LGBTIQ people living in Victoria with many legal problems, such as:

  • Accessing Centrelink
  • Employment issues
  • Discrimination
  • Police complaints
  • Health complaints
  • Family violence
  • Infringements

If you or someone you know needs help please get in touch by emailing lgbtiqlegalservice@skls.org.au or by calling/texting 0490 086 090 to arrange a phone or video appointment.

To find out more about our service to www.lgbtiqlegal.org.au

For legal information about common legal issues resulting from COVID19, see these resources created by Justice Connect: https://justiceconnect.org.au/help/covid19/

To report issues around unfair Policing and COVID19, please see the Police Accountability Project’s new website: https://covidpolicing.org.au/

Where can I get support?
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In addition to the services offered by Thorne Harbour for our trans, gender diverse, and non-binary communities, here are some additional support services you can reach out to:

  • Switchboard Victoria provides peer-driven support services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and gender diverse, intersex, queer, and asexual (LGBTIQA+) people, their families, allies and communities. If you need support, call 1800 184 527 to connect with a Switchboard counsellor between 3pm and midnight every day.
  • Qlife which provide anonymous LGBTIQ peer support and referral for people wanting to speak about issues ranging from sexuality, gender, identity, bodies, feelings and relationships.
  • Queerspace offers confidential, non-judgmental and queer-affirmative counselling services
  • To talk with someone now, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.
  • If you are in an emergency or at immediate risk of harm to yourself or others, contact emergency services on '000'.

Looking After Your Wellbeing

This is a challenging time for everyone, but it won't be like this forever. Here are a few tips and strategies to keep in mind as you continue to look after your health and wellbeing.

  • Limit and choose your news carefully — Reading or watching a lot about the coronavirus pandemic might not be helpful. Notice when something doesn't make you feel better and know you can choose to switch it off. If you want to stay up to date, pick a reliable news source and check in at a particular point during the day. Give yourself a time limit for how long you spend on it.
  • Take a social media break — Social media can be a great place to join an online TGD community, but be conscious of overdoing it. Some social media may tend to focus on negative or alarmist conversations, so aim to maintain a healthy balance for what you consume. It's OK to unfollow people, groups or pages that aren't contributing to your happiness and wellbeing.
  • Stay connected — Physical distancing is important, but so is social closeness. Check in with people online, by phone or even write an old-fashioned letter if you know their address. Strike a balance between sticking to a routine and making sure each day has some variety. Perhaps agree on regular check-in times with different people or host a group chat online.
  • Get creative — We know many TGDNB+ folks who are wonderfully resourceful and creative people. While it's tempting to focus on things we can't do, be sure to focus on things you can do. Now could be a great time to get to that household DIY or art project you've put off for ages, or try something entirely new! Ever built a terrarium before? Us neither, but why not invest in crafting something that brings you joy.
  • Get some exercise — Mental health can be heavily influenced by physical health, so be sure to get some exercise in. Getting outdoors for a bike ride, jog or walk can do wonders and there are plenty of online fitness channels to choose from. Some are even specifically created for and by trans, gender diverse, and non-binary communities. One local example is: the Fearless Movement Co, internationally our favourite 25-minute easy Queer yoga classes is run by fabulous trans American human, Sparkle Thornton.
  • Watch the Drinking or Partying – Some of us can find ourselves a bit bored and with nothing to do. It’s important to look out if you are drinking more that you usually would, or more often that you normally do. Make sure to have at least three alcohol free nights. When it comes to using drugs - think about how much you are taking or how often you are using. Are you drinking or using drugs to cope with boredom? Are there other ways to refocus that energy into something else? Find out what Thorne Harbour can do for you.

Photo Credit: The Gender Spectrum Collection

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