It’s no secret that COVID-19 has changed everyone’s lives. What seems normal is being challenged on a regular basis. No more hugging other people. No more going out to restaurants. No more in-person chorus rehearsals. It feels a lot like stepping back inside the closet, and for many in the transgender/non-binary community, that’s what has happened.
I was really frustrated when the stay-at-home order went into effect. I was starting to feel like my life was finally beginning… and now it’s all being taken away. The last night before the order came down, I was at a karaoke bar doing my best impression of “American Woman” by The Guess Who. I felt so full of life for the first time in so long. I was among friends and strangers singing a song I love. I’m not sure when I’ll be comfortable enough to experience that again, even as bars start to reopen.
I’ve realized I have had the wrong perspective on this whole situation. It’s so incredibly important to stay home and do our part to beat this nasty virus. I’ve been learning how to use services like Zoom to help me stay connected with others. It’s been such a blast meeting new people from all over the world on social media and finding strength in numbers. I’ve taken up singing to who knows how many people on YouTube. I’ve gone on solo hikes and road trips, and had socially-distant picnics with close friends. I am still free to be myself. It just looks a little different right now.
I have it pretty lucky and I’m so incredibly grateful for that. However, it hasn’t been easy for me and others in the LGBTQ community. I can’t wait to go back to laser hair removal treatments. Nothing makes you feel more dysphoric then having to shave your face again. (I will say face masks help hide any left over beard shadow pretty well.) It is worse for others. I know of transwomen who had their gender confirmation surgeries postponed, because they were considered non-essential. Others have lost their jobs, and therefore their health insurance, and are struggling to come up with ways to get their procedures and medications covered. My heart really goes out to the people who are stuck at home with family or roommates who are not supportive of their gender identity. I can’t imagine living in this uncertain world and having to battle that kind of negativity daily.
If nothing else, people who identify as LGBTQ know what it’s like to face adversity. We are a close family, and I know we will get through this together.