Delphine Bruch is our youth counsellor for under 25s, specialising in gender. They often sees young people who identify as non-binary or transgender, or who are questioning their gender identity.
On Transgender Day of Visibility, Delphine tells us more about their work and gives their top tips for support:
“Young people referred for counselling service come into the service from any number of different routes. Some are referred by parents, others by CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service), or by social workers. A number of courageous young people self-refer – and it’s great to see young people taking care of themselves and taking action to make their lives better.
“It can be difficult, particularly at the moment while we are counselling online or over the phone, for young people to find a confidential space. We have had young people call us from their shed, from a car, from the park, even from the cupboard under the stairs. Their sense of resilience is amazing.
“We give them a space to be heard. We use the right pronouns, we use their chosen name. For some young people, who are questioning who they are, we reassure them that it’s okay not to know. All our work is person-centred, with our emphasis on young people’s autonomy and moving at their pace.
“Some young people experience dysphoria (when a young person’s sense of who they are doesn’t match their body). We will work with young people to find safe ways to manage that, to bind for example. We have trans-girls and young women who will do their make-up online sometimes while we’re talking. It’s their 50 minutes to be themselves, however they want to be.
“Young people can often feel quite pressurised to make a decision about their gender identity, labelling themselves or coming out. Many say they do not want to out themselves until they are completely sure. The world outside can feel very pressurising and hostile, so some young people do not want to be centre of attention or visible, and we’ll hear young people say, "I’m tired of coming out, I’m tired of having to explain", and exposing themselves to intrusive questions. So not being visible is okay too.”
- Focus on what you can control in your life. At METRO, we often use mindfulness, breathing and grounding techniques to help with anxiety and being present. Creative activities are also a great way to explore and express what you’re feeling.
- Remember you’re not alone. There are groups where you can meet with other trans and questioning young people, including our Transcend Youth Group
- Whatever you are feeling is okay. Your feelings and your identity are valid regardless of you being sure or questioning; you don’t have to come out to everyone or even anyone, unless it feels right for you.
Useful contacts and resources
- Gendered Intelligence has information and ideas about coming out Gendered Intelligence - Coming Out
- If you are concerned that you cannot keep yourself safe, please contact your GP or in an emergency attend your local A&E department
- Papyrus prevention of young suicide: 0800 068 4141 or text 07786209697
- Samaritans - 116 123
- LGBT Helpline Switchboard - 0300 330 0630
- YoungMinds (parent line) - 0808 802 5544
- For emergency issues around housing, please contact Shelter on 0808 800 4444.
- ‘Kooth’ is an online counselling service for young people you may also like to access if you require support whilst you are waiting for counselling, here is the link: https://www.kooth.com/
- The ‘hub of hope’ app comes up with all the places for support near you, just put in your postcode! Visit https://hubofhope.co.uk/