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Sometimes Josh Chadd wakes up feeling like a badass. Sometimes, he can’t find a good reason to get out of bed, so he doesn’t.

“I have battled depression and anxiety since long before COVID-19, and I knew this would not be pretty for me,” Chadd said.

The this he’s referring to is the pandemic-induced isolation he and millions of people around the globe have experienced since COVID-19 sent the world into lockdown early this year.

Prior to the pandemic, Chadd, 31, worked at a busy hospital some sixty hours a week, mostly on his feet and surrounded by people. Then, amid ‘safer at home’ orders, he switched jobs and started working from home as an admissions coordinator.

His new job requires very few phone calls or video meetings, other than a weekly chat with his boss. Most days he works in silence with his dog nearby, or listens to music—usually a few songs on repeat.

The sudden changes have been challenging.

“I tried to prepare for the storm mentally - reminding myself over and over that this is just temporary,” he said.

Still, it’s been hard.

Chadd misses his friends, his favorite bar, Canvas, and his gay family—or “gamily,” as he lovingly refers to them.

He reaches out from isolation occasionally to check in with friends via text or through social media. Sometimes they get back to him, he said. Sometimes they don’t.

To fill idle time, he’s been cleaning and decluttering around his house and looking for excuses to step outside for fresh air from time to time. Some days he sits and cries for no apparent reason.

“There is no shame in needing antidepressants,” Chadd said.

When craving connection, Chadd sometimes turns to Tinder for conversation with other local shut-ins. But, even though he’s had some “really good conversations,” he said texting can only scratch part of the itch.

“Having to communicate via social networks, text, and email becomes exhausting,” Chadd said. “Even more so when, at the end of the day, all I want is to cuddle.”

Exhausting as it may be, Chadd said he has hooked up with a few guys over the last couple of months—but only after he was confident that they, like him, had no symptoms of COVID-19 and had been practicing social distancing and other recommended safety measures meant to flatten the curve.

“Thinking back, I realize that probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do,” Chadd said. “This has been hard though, and I must admit while these hookups were not necessarily intimate, they have kept me from falling off the deep end.”

Though the silence and sameness of life in lockdown can be maddening, Chadd said it has given him a chance to step back and evaluate parts of his life including his friendships.

“While I feel like I have lost touch with a lot of people these past few months, I am hopeful we can maybe pick up somewhere around where we left off,” he said. “I don’t blame my friends for not being as present as I had hoped. It’s a two-way street and some days I have not felt like I could even be around another person, let alone carry on a conversation with them.”

Ultimately, isolation has created space for self-reflection and some significant realizations, Chadd said.

“It’s okay to be angry at things you don’t have control over, so long as you don’t allow those things to control you,” Chadd said. “Any growth is good, even if it’s painful or not what you had hoped for.”

This article has been supported by a grant from the Facebook Journalism Project for COVID-19 coverage.

 

 

How to talk about transgender issues

So how do we talk about transgender issues (even if you're not transgender)? There are three main things to remember when discussing transgender issues today, so before getting into the meat and potatoes of it all, let's keep these things in mind:

  1. It is not a political discussion, it is a human rights discussion.
  2. There is a rich history rooted in transgender rights that must be considered when discussing these issues.
  3. Humanization should always be at the forefront of the conversation.

Before going into any conversation, no matter who it's with, try to keep these things in mind before you say something that may be inappropriate, misguided, or just plain wrong. Even those with the best intentions can mess up; remember that it is always ok to admit when you do not know something or when you are wrong. That being said, let's get into it.

sign with a 'friendly for all genders' image showing a person in a wheelchair, and a person with half a dress and pants on.

Transgender bathroom bills

commons.wikimedia.org

So whether you choose to become a transgender activist or if you just want to be a better ally, this easy talking point will generally keep you in line and on the safe side of conversations while still putting forth the effort to encourage and better represent transgender rights.

Easy, all-around approach: This will work for almost all transgender issues and expand on the previous three rules; firstly, trans issues are not a debate. When discussing with someone, do not indulge in hypotheticals and always remember that transgender people are the exact same as anyone else, with the exact same feelings. Keeping this in mind, let's use the bathroom bill as an example. When discussing this issue, one should humanize, de-politicize, and normalize the conversation. How does one employ this, though? Here is an example of how the conversation may go.

Person 1: I don't want men in the women's restroom, they will rape my daughters.

So this statement is clearly based on reactionary conversation perpetuated by anti-transgender ideals. This means that the person probably has a misconception of the history and oppression of transgender people. They also show concern for their family, which is a step towards humanization, despite the misconception. Here would be an appropriate response that helps to humanize, de-politicize, and normalize the conversation.

Person 2: I don't want men in the women's restroom, either, which is why we need to make sure people who identify as women are using the women's restroom. There has never been a documented case where a transgender person has raped either a man or woman in a public restroom. And by forcing people to use a restroom that does not match their gender identity, it is promoting violence, as there is a strong history of physical violence against transgender people.

By only saying about three sentences, you are able to do the previous steps while discussing the issue in a civil manner without opening it up to debate. The key to this is to keep it short and sweet, stating both the truth and an ally's stance to support the transgender community. It's critical to make sure that what you say is backed with confidence, though, which is why this second approach is more encouraged as it gives the person speaking more confidence in their opinion.

gif of a man in a suit talking about number 1. Number 1 GIF by PragerU Giphy

The second approach: backed by facts and history, is the exact same as before, but this approach leaves the other person with more questions about their stance and gives them something to consider. Before going into this approach, however, it is important to keep in mind that you are not debating the existence of trans people, nor are you trying to change someone's mind. That is not the goal; the goal is simply to get your opinion across in a way that honors both the trans community and their ideas. Let's take the same example as before but add the new sentiments.

Person 1: I don't want men in the women's restrooms, they will rape my daughters.

Person 2: There has never been a documented case of a transgender person raping anyone in a public restroom, and the only published cases of such were proven to be false. Further, when people say things like this, they are perpetuating violence against transgender people, which has historically (and still does) oppressed and insight further physical violence against them. And honestly, the most common reason there is this stance is because the person typically does not know a trans person and may not even know a person who does know a trans person. But the truth is, they probably do. The probability is more likely that the transgender people around them are just not comfortable enough in the environment to come out and speak up about their gender identity. And yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but it is quite sad that some people's opinion does not invite civil discussion but instead incites violence.

This approach is more confrontational, which requires more confidence when using it in a conversation, but it still holds true to all of the previous rules and sentiments. It adds truth based on history, which is an important aspect of trans rights as it reminds people of where we were/ where we are currently with human rights. These ideas can be transferred to most all trans issues and will honor the transgender movement and your allyship. The last thing to keep in mind is the person or reason you are standing up for/with trans rights. The passion -the compassion will shine through in conversation if you keep your reasoning close to heart. Whether it is because of a transgender friend, family member, or just because of your moral values, if you put your emotions into your reasoning, it will create more compelling statements, especially if the statement is well versed with the facts.

Tips to Remember When Discussing Transgender Issues

  1. Transgender issues are not political, they are human rights issues
  2. There is a rich history behind transgender issues
  3. Humanize transgender people through our words and ideas and don't forget to include:
    • 3(b). The facts
    • 3(c).The confidence
    • 3(d). The inspiration behind the support for transgender rights

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