Questioning identity does not equate to a crisis, says Dorset Mind – but calling it one can create a drama around a very normal process
It’s normal to question who you are – your core beliefs, personality, and sexual or gender identity. Questioning one’s identity can occur at any age. Often this reflection can provide an opportunity for growth and positive change.
You may have seen the term ‘identity crisis’ in the media, usually alongside a generic headline on ‘how to cope’. Questioning your identity is not a crisis; it shouldn’t be stigmatised, nor is it something to be frightened of.
‘Gender identity’ is a person’s sense of their own gender. UK Census Data showed that 262,000 people aged 16 years and over in England and Wales identified as a different gender than the one they were assigned at birth. (Census, 2021).
It’s important to acknowledge these statistics, especially considering mental health challenges within the transgender community. During the 2020/21 period, 2,630 hate crimes against transgender people were recorded by the Police (Home Office, 2021).
One of my personal key takeaways from completing Unconscious Bias training at Dorset Mind was that we all form judgements, often without realising, due to the many factors affecting who we are, such as our own gender identity.
People may react confron-tationally towards others, simply due to differences, and the uncomfortable feelings created by the ‘otherness’. Additionally, the ‘hate’ may stem from an individual’s lack of education or understanding.
Dorset Mind’s messaging
Within Dorset Mind, we continue to amplify the voices and experiences of people in our communities, often through online blogs or vlogs. We want to encourage all ages to contribute, so we can better support each other. In Dorset Mind wellbeing groups, we’re delighted to provide participants safe and confidential spaces to talk about who they are.
Within our LGBTQIA+ group, ‘MindOut,’ participants share their own experiences, help each other to embrace their own personal sense of identity and take part in mindful activities which help develop self-compassion. Dorset Mind work placement organiser and volunteer Billie Frater helps to co-facilitate the ‘MindOut LGBTQIA+’ group.
She says: ‘The beauty of life is that it gives us the opportunity to explore who we are. It’s OK to feel confused and question our sexual and/or gender identity.
‘However you feel or identify, you are valid and loved. Additionally, there are people and resources that can help you better understand and learn about yourself. Don’t feel pressured to figure out who you are. It’s a journey, not a race!’
Samaritans provide a phone listening service which operates 24hrs a day, 365 days a year. Contact them FREE on 116 123.
If you’re a part of the LGBTQIA+ community or questioning your gender identity, find signposting and support groups for young people and adults on the rainbowdorset.co.uk website.
Additionally, contact MindLine Trans+, a free, confidential listening service for people identifying as trans or non-binary, and their friends and families, on 0300 330 5468.
Other support links can be found on Dorset Mind: dorsetmind.uk