Mental Health Tougher for Queer Youth in Hamilton

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By Samantha Craggs, CBC News

Sam Russell thinks of herself as gender fluid — neither male nor female, but somewhere outside society’s usual binary. And she’s fine with that. It doesn’t need to be fixed.

The McMaster University student also has depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

Like many LGBTQ youth, the 21-year-old faces a specific set of fears when approaching the mental health system.

How do you find a therapist who doesn’t consider your gender identity to be part of the problem? How can you be sure, when sharing your deepest thoughts, that the person listening isn’t judging your gender or sexuality?

It’s a problem Russell anticipates facing one day. While Russell’s therapist at McMaster is liberal and understanding, the fear was there, and will be in the future.

“Having to go to new people triggers my anxiety,” Russell said. “I had seven billion trains of thought about not fitting where I thought I should be fitting.”

The communications major grew up in a “pretty normal” family full of rough-and-tumble brothers. Russell’s mother was a fan of traditional gender notions such as dresses and dolls and playing house.

“It was always ‘Sam can play with Barbies and the boys can go out and play in the mud,’ but I always wanted to play in the mud,” Russell said.

When puberty hit, Russell’s self loathing increased. It continued through high school, when Russell created a character of sorts — a pretty girl who wore dresses and dated boys. A girl who fit the so-called norm.

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Article & Image Source: CBC News


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