Zoel shares 5 top tips for coping with transphobic content on social media and how to look after mental health and wellbeing.
Nowadays there is more awareness of transgender people, with documentaries, celebrities like Laverne Cox, and fictional characters. This can increase understanding of transgender issues but it can also be risky. It can put a spotlight on transgender people that become a target for everything from accidental insults to targeted harassment by hate groups. It can feel unavoidable. Debates on the radio or TV about changing laws that concern transgender people. Opinion articles in the news that would pit feminism and transgender rights against each other. And social media. Oh, social media! You begin with a cute cat video, click a few trending topics, and find yourself in a mile-long thread of trolls and transphobia.
Seeing these negative comments can feel awful as a transgender person or ally. It's important to look after your mental health while using social media. So, here are some self-care tips to navigate negativity.
1. Don't feed the trolls
It can be very upsetting and make you angry to see people saying hurtful things. However, when people post these comments they do not want you to change their minds, or point out how they're wrong. They want to make you upset. To 'prove' that this community is emotional and unreasonable. They're looking for attention and a fight. The best thing to do is report them and move on.
2. Check privacy settings
If the comments are on your own posts, check out the options to limit who can interact with your posts to just friends, and be careful of only adding people you trust on social media.
3. Rabbit holes are for rabbits
Social media holds your attention. It can be easy to think you'll look for just a few minutes, and then find you're scrolling through comments from everyone and their dog. If you're looking at content about transgender rights, it can be hard to resist the temptation to read the comments. There will be negative ones there as transgender people are still not accepted by everyone. It’s sometimes better for your mental health to not give in to your curiosity.
4. Take a break
If you’ve seen something upsetting, it can be good to just step away from social media for a while. Take a calming breath. Count to ten. Close the tab or app. Do something else to take your mind off it like listening to some music, take part in your hobbies or go for a short walk.
5. Look for the positive
It’s not all doom and gloom on social media. You could find local support groups online to take part in (though check they are age-appropriate). There are positivity pages for transgender rights that post happy messages and hopes rather than focusing on the negative. Make sure you’re also following content related to your other interests and things that cheer you up. Activism is a good cause but it can be hard work. Find some fun.
I hope you found these tips helpful for keeping yourself safe and happy while using social media. Remember that you can’t control how something makes you feel, and you can’t always control if you will see something upsetting, but you can control whether you keep looking. If you are regularly being upset by things you are seeing on social media, especially if they are comments on your posts or nasty things sent to you, please do tell someone. Turn to friends for support, report the people who sent it, and if you are a younger person tell an adult you trust, like a teacher, parent or youth worker. It’s supposed to be social media, not anti-social media. You deserve to feel respected, safe and supported.
- Zoel, 23, Edinburgh
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Young Scot supports young people to share their own voices, views and opinions and works with partner organisations and professionals who are experts in different topics. The views expressed in this blog are those of the young people, organisations and/or individuals who have taken part in the blog, not necessarily the views of Young Scot.