This week on The Clinic, Michael and Steph are joined by the university’s women’s LGBT+ officer, Hannah Ryan. They discuss the shocking statistics found in Gair Rhydd’s new feature (which you can find here) and the campaign Hannah led throughout the week. During her takeover of Xpress, she discusses many issues (that you can listen to here) and on our show, she enlightens us on many of the common issues and anxieties felt by the lgbt+ community in Cardiff, and what the university can do to help. During the Ladies We Need To Talk section of the show, Steph, Hannah and Gemma talk about the importance of including all kinds of women in discussions surrounding feminism.
Here are some of the important topics Hannah talked to us about regarding LGBT+ issues and mental health:
1. Coming out is an ongoing process that everyone goes through: If you are a young LGBT+ individual, just know that everyone else in the community is able to sympathise with what you are going through. Coming out is something that is gradual and that you do at your own pace, and if you feel you need advice and support, don’t be afraid to reach out to your fellow LGBT+ members as they are most likely going through the same things.
2. There are plenty of societies within the university that involve the LGBT+ community, such as CU Pride and Cardiff University LGBT+ Association. Hannah stresses the impact that these societies can have on student’s lives and how involved it makes individuals feel in the community. They organise many alcoholic, and non-alcoholic socials that are so fun, and enforce the family feeling that the community has.
3. Your mental health is important: According to Gair Rhydd’s survey, 60% of students within the LGBT+ community that took the survey felt that their mental health had been impacted because of their gender identity or sexuality. If you are struggling, just know that you are not alone and that there are plenty of ways that you can get help. Reach out to your friends within the community because they may know exactly how you feel, and take comfort in knowing you are not alone.
4. Internalised homophobia is completely normal: Hannah discusses her own experiences with this internalised stigma and how playground, homophobic comments in childhood haunted her in adulthood. It can take time to fully feel comfortable to accept and embrace your sexuality, and that is okay. When you do feel comfortable telling people, understand that a lot of people will also be accepting of you, in the same way you are with yourself.
5. Realising your new identity: Fully exploring and realising your sexuality can be a confusing time- feeling lost or out of place is common for those in the LGBT+ community, so don’t feel pressured to put a label on yourself. We are all trying to figure out who we are, and the LGBT+ community in Cardiff is excellent at making people feel included.
6. Take advantage of the University’s services: You can find more information about how the University supports specific LGBT+ groups here and information about student support and wellbeing here. Don’t be afraid to reach out if you are struggling, there are plenty of services designed for students in your position such as Nightline, 50 Park place and advice resources on the student intranet (which you can access here.)
7. Sexual health is very important: On the show Hannah, Steph and Michael agreed that within our sexual education at school there definitely wasn’t enough information given about same sex partners, or sexual health issues relating to this. SHAG is a great awareness group within the university that offers advice and services. The University website also offers lots of great resources here that give information and advice about sexual health.
8. Books and Films that can help you with your journey: Being an english literature student and a bit of a film buff, Hannah recommended some books and films that she found really enjoys that helped her become more accepting of her sexuality, and that were inclusive and accepting of all genders and sexualities. Here is her list:
9. “We need to de-stigmatise mental health talk in the LGBT+ community”: This quote from the Gair Rhydd feature is important for those within, and outside the community. Normalising all kinds of relationships and sexualities is important to ensure that all students at our university feel welcome and included. So, if you can, talk about your issues and be open about your experiences in the same way Hannah has. Not only will it help those outside of the LGBT+ community understand what you are going through, but also will help those struggling as it will give them relief that they are not alone with what they are going through.
10. Your friends at university are your chosen family: If you don’t feel comfortable coming out to your family yet, or they have not reacted in the way you had hoped, don’t feel afraid to rely on your chosen family. Not only will they understand what you are going through, but also they are people that you can be completely yourself around without having to hide. On the show, Hannah talks about how important it is to mental wellbeing that those within the LGBT+ community can be completely themselves, and embrace every amazing part!!
Disclaimer: We are by no means professions, and are giving advice based on our own experiences and opinions on what we would do in these situations. If you feel affected by anything we talk about on our show, please seek extra help via the university’s services or counselling.
If you are struggling, please look into the support services that the university offers here.
“Ladies, We Need To Talk”
This week, Gemma, Steph and our special guest Hannah discussed the inclusion of trans women in the feminist narrative as well as the stereotypes faced being both a gay woman and a feminist.
The feminist discussion has most definitely expanded and opened up in the last few years, most definitely for the better. However, you often find that aspects of the discussion is centred around biological aspects of womanhood (like periods etc.) and this can lead to the exclusion of some women from the discussion. By basing the feminist narrative on women with vaginas you are cutting out a big chunk of women who don’t fall in to that category, which ultimately undermines what it means to be a feminist. How can you truly be a feminist if you’re not fighting for equality for all women?
It’s something we could all work on improving and there’s easy steps we can all take to make progress on the matter. Hannah’s top piece of advice to create a more inclusive feminist environment is “to listen to trans women and for feminists not to speak over them – acknowledge that their lived experiences are different to that of our own, but we must listen to and work with them!”
Read Gemma’s blog here:
Ladies, We Need To Talk