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Jo's Story

I’ve always been a social, outgoing person. I find energy from connection across my different social circles through my university science degree, netball, rock climbing and outdoor experiences. These manifested in habits and routines before the pandemic. When the lockdowns happened, I found myself doing everything I could to maintain those connections. While the university campus was closed, my science lectures and labs moved online, and my weekly therapy sessions moved to telehealth. With community sport cancelled, I lost access to weekly netball training and matches, and we replaced them by doing weekly club zoom workouts.

My current partner and I had started dating just a month before the first lockdown, so we had to decide very quickly that we were intimate partners. For a while, I wasn’t allowed to go over to her place because one of her housemates was homophobic. That was really challenging in a time where I needed connection the most. Eventually, I was allowed to go over and we did our best to assemble a sense of routines through walks in the park when 9pm curfews and one hour of exercise a day took place. Once the lockdowns started to lift, although I experienced a lot of anxiety surrounding catching COVID, I think it was outweighed by the dive in my mental health and how my c-PTSD symptoms had been exacerbated in isolation. I went back to netball, I went back to the climbing gym, I was allowed back into the science labs, and I started going out for coffee with my friends again.

As much as I tried to maintain a sense of 'normal' during the pandemic, like everyone, I had to face spending much more time alone and a lot of that was spent online. I found so many voices of trans and gender diverse people sharing their journeys and experiences. I lacked so much representation growing up and with newly found language, I began journaling about my internal gender experience that I had failed to recognise. I began to realise that I was non-binary. During lockdowns, I experimented with using she/they pronouns and eventually using they/them with my partner and my close friends that I felt most safe with. As I emerged from the pandemic, I realised I had gone through a huge realisation of my gender behind closed doors I had now re-emerged, excited to tell my wider community about it. Having been out as gay for a couple years, I came out again as non-binary towards the end of 2021 and started using they/them in all spaces. It’s been met with so much love and support from everyone that I care about. People still say to me that as time goes on, I look more and more like myself. I don’t think this journey would have happened without so much time by myself to think about my internal experience and how I see myself in the world.

Jo's Poem (courtesy Jo Toner) 
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