Anxiety in Social Situations

Many trans people suffer from either social anxiety disorder or increased anxiety around social situations. This can mean things like feeling nervous in social situations, feeling unable to interact with others or social situations triggering panic attacks.

Usually it is particular situations that bring on or exacerbate feelings of social anxiety. For trans people these could be around passing, thinking about pronouns, using toilets etc. It could be anxiety provoking to ask people to use a new name or pronoun.

Going out of the house can bring on a fear or worry, particularly the feeling of being judged. In social settings some young trans people feel like they don’t fit in or feel under pressure to be a certain way that they doesn’t feel right.

To deal with social anxiety, it is important to recognise how it makes you feel. Acknowledging signs and symptoms are also important.

These could be a range of emotions and sensations including panic, paranoia, embarrassment and feeling lonely (in a crowd). Once you identify your feelings and what’s happening you can start to think about your own self care plan, ask for help from friends, family, support workers or a GP.

The type of methods you use to cope with anxiety in whatever form will depend on your specific situation and preferences. It will likely take time to find what works best for you. It may help to talk to other trans people about how they have dealt with similar problems.

Here are some links to resources that you might find useful:

Panic button collector by poet and LGBT activist Andrea Gibson, a poem about anxiety

If you are in a shell by Ze Frank, a poem about working through not being able to speak up in social situations

Moodjuice booklet with self-care tips is a UK resource site for those with social anxiety

This page on the NHS website has stuff about social anxiety.

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