Being shamed is not only a very real part of experiencing bullying behaviour, but it also a very real part of day-to-day life.

Shame can impact negatively on your well-being and self-esteem; it tells us that ‘we are bad’, that we should feel embarrassed of ourselves or a unique factor we might possess, that people have the right to judge us. Well, guess what? They don’t.

Here are 15 things we really need to stop shaming each other over.

1. Appearance.

In recent Ditch the Label research, appearance was cited as the number one aggressor of bullying, with 51% saying they were bullied because of attitudes towards how they look. We say, dress how you want to dress and be who you want to be!

2. Dress size.

‘Fat shaming’ is a relatively new term to describe something that has been going on for years, but size is nothing but a number! As long as you are happy and healthy nothing else matters.

3. Taste in music/film/food etc.

We all enjoy different things – it’s what makes the world go round! Whether you like listening to classical music or if watching The Real Housewives of Cheshire is your idea of a good night – that’s fine! Taste is totally subjective, so do what makes you happy and let others do the same.

4. Skin colour.

‘Too pale’, ‘too dark’, ‘too orange’, ‘too brown’ – who needs this kind of unwanted commentary or judgement? You have as much control over your DNA as you do the moon. All skin colours and tones are uniquely beautiful as they are different and that’s a good thing.

5. Singledom.

Not all people in relationships are happy and not all single people are unhappy! It’s time we acknowledged that being single doesn’t mean being alone. It also doesn’t mean there is something ‘wrong with you’.

There is so much pressure in society to find a partner – but there really is no rush! It’s much better that you take time to understand yourself and what you really want from life, before committing to another person.

6. Masculinity.

‘Man up’, ‘grow a pair’, ‘stop acting like a girl’ are phrases commonly used to shame men out of expressing emotion. With this kind of suppression and stoicism firmly rooted in our culture, is it any surprise that male suicide is the biggest killer of young men today? We are literally shaming young men into suicide. We desperately need to step away from rigid, old-fashioned ideas of masculinity and move towards one that allows men to ask for help when they need it.

7. Slut shaming.

Slut shaming comes from the archaic belief that it’s not okay for females to enjoy or engage in a lot of sexual activity. Rather than shaming females who enjoy a healthy sex life, we should focus our energies on making sure consensual and safe sex is practised.

8. Sexuality.

Your sexuality is another example of something you cannot control or change, but despite this fact, homophobia is still rife in many areas of society. Love is love! What does it matter who people date?

9. Mental health.

Even though it is 2019, Mental health still has a crippling stigma attached to it. Battling a mental illness can seem extremely daunting, but help and support is out there – so don’t ever feel too ashamed to seek it.

Mental health should be talked about as often and as openly as physical health – it makes no sense that an ailment of the mind should be considered more shameful than an ailment of the body.

10. Career.

How you decide to earn a living is your business entirely. There is great pressure on us to ‘succeed’ in society – and often that means financially succeed. However wealth is not a measure of ability or happiness, so we should not judge each other on such merits. Get to know the person before you ask them what it is they ‘do’.

11. Body hair.

To be hairy or not to be hairy? Well, that is entirely up to you – it’s your body after all! Society has conditioned us to see body hair as repulsive and something to be immediately removed, but in actual fact, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. Whether you are as hairless as a Sphinx cat, or as furry as rabbit – if you like it, rock it!

12. Femininity.

Going against traditional expressions of femininity is often met with judgement in society today. Women are shamed into thinking that facial hair is wrong, or that having muscles is ‘manly’. A female celebrity caught without makeup is often slated in the media for not looking attractive enough. Women in managerial roles are often called ‘moody’ or ‘bossy’ – adjectives that would never be ascribed to males in their position.

Here at Ditch the Label we believe we need to give the concept of femininity room to evolve and grow into something far more accepting and liberating.

13. Money.

People who are living at either end of the spectrum are most vulnerable to this kind of shaming; those living in poverty and those who are wealthy. Both can experience damaging forms of snobbery, with judgement of the rich being inverted.

14. Living at home with your parents

Living at home with your mum and dad can be seen as a bit of a turn off once you are no longer a teen, but many people of all different ages and backgrounds at various points in their life decide to return to the family home – and some have never left in the first place! Whatever reason you might have for living at home (and there are many) it really is okay.

15. Social media

Social media might as well be called social judgement. How many followers do you have? How many likes do you get? How awesome and shiny does your life look? How many friends do you have? How many comments and retweets do you get?

It’s incredibly easy to feel the pangs of shame and judgement when scrolling through your news feed – and the most common place for it to come from, is actually ourselves.

We can feel shame when comparing our lives with other people’s, but we must remember that a profile will very rarely tell the full story of someone’s life.

So stop comparing, it really is the thief of all happiness!

The things you need to know when coming out

Are you ready to come out as bisexual? We know you’ve probably spent countless hours wondering if bisexuality best describes you– so let us be the first ones to congratulate you!

This identity is so powerful. You’re ready to be open and honest about something you value. It’s ok to start off slow– you may not be ready to tell the whole world!

We have 13 tips for coming out to help you decide who, when, and how you might tell someone.

1. Decide who, when, and where would be the safest to tell someone.

Your safety is #1. You can slide LGBTQ+ topics into your conversation to see how a friend/family member responds, and notice what environments are the most private. Having a friend who knows your location when you tell someone might help ease any anxiety.

2. Who’s the first person you want to tell?

Consider who might take the news well. This may be a best friend, a close family member, distant relative, or acquaintance. Coming out to the “easier” people first will be a great start to building your support team. You’ll then have reassurance for any people who might be more challenging to come out to.

3. How are you going to tell them?

There are so many different ways to tell someone… Will you send them a text? Say something over family dinner? Or maybe bring it up during a hike? Ideally, keep the environment neutral and remain calm so you can fully express yourself.

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4. Celebrate whenever you tell someone.

No matter how small– you’ve just been completely open with someone! We love hearing about successes on our Support Community. Check out the Brag Box.

5. Be prepared for a shock.

Your sexuality is not something new to you– it’s part of you… but other people may not have expected this. Shock can cause all sorts of reactions– be prepared for any emotion, from disinterest to anger, or sadness. Remind yourself that sexuality is a completely natural thing, and that you’re better for having told someone.

6. Help them understand.

Bisexuality is not a term that’s widely understood, or accepted. Many people have misconceptions around bisexuality- check out 10 Things People Say to Bisexuals. Dispel these myths by helping people understand the facts.

7. Who can they tell?

How this truth spreads is your choice. Give clear boundaries for who they can tell. Remind them how important it is for you that they keep it to themselves, at least while you finish telling the necessary people in your life.

8. Give them time to process.

If they’re sad, or angry, remind yourself that this is their process. It’s not your fault. You were just speaking your truth and wanted to help them know you better. Do not feel guilty for their emotions, and if you find their words are hurting you– give yourself some space.

9. Address the conflict.

If someone’s reaction hurts you, check out our information on resolving a conflict, here. This can create a safe place to talk about how their actions have made you feel, and they’ll have a chance to talk about how they’re feeling.

If setting up a conflict resolution isn’t a possibility, consider writing them a letter that includes how you’re feeling, and what you would like to happen for the future.

10. If they can’t accept you – distance yourself.

It’s easier said than done, we know, but try to avoid expectations when telling people that you’re bisexual. Some people may not accept the fact that you’re bisexual, and that’s okay. But it doesn’t mean you have to try to keep them as friends. Good family and friends accept the full you!

11. Come out, again.

Although it does tend to get easier the more you tell people, sharing that you’re bisexual never stops. New people come into our lives, as do new love interests. Sometimes they deserve to know the full extent of our sexuality.

12. Check out LGBTQ+ and Bi-specific resources in your area.

Meeting people who may have had similar experiences is so powerful for feeling accepted! Finding a group where you can be fully yourself, without judgement, is a beautiful thing.

13. Join our Community

If in-person resources aren’t in your area, or if you prefer an online community, join our Support Community! Many of our other members are figuring out how to share their sexuality with people, too.

Categories
Identity Videos

The Anthem

We live in a world where it is a rebellion to be yourself. Where people are ostracized and bullied because of attitudes towards how they look, who they love, the color of their skin or pretty much anything that makes them unique.

We say enough is enough. It’s time to rebel against the pressure to change yourself to ‘fit in’. It’s time to embrace yourself for who you truly are. It’s time for a revolution. Welcome to Ditch the Label.

This is our vision.

This is our purpose.

This is our manifesto.

Subscribe to our YouTube for more funny interview videos, support guides and more:

coffee

Coming out to your parents as lesbian, gay or bisexual naturally brings up a lot of questions. How will they react? Will it change anything? Can I say it without getting upset? How should I say it? When is the best time?

Telling your parents is much bigger than them simply knowing your orientation. It is about you owning your sexuality and having the courage to say ‘this is who I am’ and not living in secret any more. If your parents are homophobic, you may want to check out this article instead.

Here are 9 Tips to help you get there:

1. First reactions are unpredictable.

When coming out to your parents whether they suspect anything or not, this is the first time they are hearing this news. You have had months or even years to come to a place of acceptance and being ready to share it. They only just found out so remember first reactions are not always lasting reactions and they will need time to process this information.

2. Determine whether this is the right time.

It is crucial that you take the time to consider your own personal circumstances when making the decision to come out to your parents. What might be the right thing for one person, may not be right for you. Your safety and wellbeing should always come first.

3. You don’t have to tell them both at the same time.

If there is one parent you are more nervous about telling, you don’t have to tell them together. Start with the parent you feel safer talking to. You’ll know if it’s best to tell them separately or together so trust your instincts.

4. Pick a good time and place.

This news deserves your parent’s full attention. So make sure you choose a time that won’t be interrupted and in a place that feels comfortable for you. You are in control of this situation and its key you feel as comfortable as possible. There may also never be “the perfect time,” and if there is one, you might lose your nerve and let the opportunity pass – that’s okay, don’t sweat it if that happens and try again.

5. Be clear about who they can tell.

This one can easily be overlooked as you will be so relieved at finally telling them, that its natural to forget to be clear what you want to happen next. Decide beforehand whether you are comfortable with them sharing this news with your family or if you want it kept between you for the time being – be clear about that.

6. Their approval or permission is not required.

Try not to expect too much from your parents and wherever possible, avoid measuring the success of the conversation by their initial response. If it’s not what you hoped for, don’t despair or give up. They may just need more time. This isn’t about them. It’s about you and who you truly are. Show them that you are the same person they’ve always loved, just more honest now.

7. Questions are ok.

One concern can be a barrage of questions, especially knowing the answers can sometimes be awkward and uncomfortable. Don’t stress yourself out trying to think of every answer ahead of time. Questions from your parents are natural (but don’t feel pressured into answering things you aren’t comfortable with) and whether you have answers or not just be as honest as you can.

8. Help educate them. 🌈

Whatever reaction your parents have; good, bad or ugly, suggest they have a look at these organisations: FFLAG and BeLongTo;  They are dedicated to supporting parents of lesbian, gay or bisexual sons and daughters and have a wealth of resources nationwide. It will help educate them on all things LGB and give them the opportunity to speak to other parents for advice.

9. Talk to us.

Coming out to your parents is a big deal full stop. Even parents who have the best intentions will frequently get it wrong and say something unintentionally offensive and hurtful. Everyone’s experience is different so whether you are on the brink of doing it, have done it but are struggling or just need some support with it all, join our community to talk to one of our awesome mentors who understand completely what you are going through and get advice from others who have similar experiences…

If you would prefer the easy to read version please click here.

What is Hate Crime?

Hate crime is a criminal offence. It is an act of hatred or aggression directed at a specific person, group or their property. It is motivated by hostility or prejudice against:

  • A personal characteristic
  • Gender identity
  • Disability
  • Sexual orientation
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Faith

This may involve bullying, physical assault, verbal abuse and/or insults, damage to property, threatening behaviour, robbery, harassment, offensive letters (hate mail) or graffiti and inciting others to commit hate crimes. The legal consequences for perpetrators can be serious and range from a fine to a maximum of 10 years in prison.

Why Report Hate Crime?

Reporting hate crime is important because it provides a platform from which action can be taken against perpetrators and for the abuse to stop. It can often lead to vital support for the victim and it can also benefit wider society by creating safer public areas.

Hate crime can go unreported for many reasons including:

  • Many people do not know that they can report this kind of abuse
  • People do not know how to report it
  • Some people have reservations or fears around approaching the police or authority figures

An increase in reporting will:

  • Provide more accurate statistics which leads to better services within the justice system and improves how hate crimes are responded to
  • Challenge attitudes and behaviours that endorse hatred towards anyone perceived as ‘different’
  • Encourage early intervention to prevent situations escalating
  • Increase confidence for victims in coming forward to seek support and justice
  • Ensure that the right support is available for those that need it
american, cop, car

How to report Hate Crime

In an emergency, ALWAYS dial 999 or 112 – All calls are free and will be answered by trained operators. If you are in immediate danger, or to report a crime in progress, dial 999 or 112 as above.

Other ways to contact the police:

  • Dial 101 to report non-urgent crimes or to make an enquiry
  • Call in at a police station. You can search by postcode via: http://www.police.uk
  • In incidents where the victim of a hate crime does not wish to approach the police directly there may be a police liaison officer for their region, or a Community Safety Partnership Department. Call 101 for further advice on this.
  • Reporting hate crime online: http://report-it.org.uk/your_police_force
  • Understandably it can sometimes be very difficult to report an incident alone. If you do not have a friend or family member to accompany you, help with reporting via voluntary and other agencies can be found here: http://www.report-it.org.uk/organisations_that_can_help
  • You can also report hate crime anonymously via Crimestoppers here: 0800 555 111 / https://crimestoppers-uk.org

Always tell someone if you have been the victim of a hate crime. You can speak to a digital mentor at Ditch the Label who can help you in dealing with this. Join the community today.

In the first of a series of articles by our amazing team of Student Features Writers, Priya Toberman lays down her thoughts on how the stereotypes of women in the media can affect women today.

When I was younger, the girls in the books I read were my heroes. They were tough, they didn’t like the colour pink, and the idea of wearing makeup made them want to puke. They were what we tend to call ‘Strong Female Character’. 

Although well-meaning, the recurrence of this trope has the unfortunate side effect of creating a stereotype of those girls that do choose to express themselves as traditionally feminine. This isn’t because of its existence as a whole, but because it is often twisted into the idea that traditionally feminine values equate to stupidity, vanity and superficiality. The problem with this, is that there is zero evidence to prove that someone’s intelligence is affected by their outward appearance.

This impacted me hugely when I was little. I didn’t want to do something that might make me appear ‘girly’, in part because I thought the word ‘girl’ meant being seen as less intelligent, more incapable and essentially, less of a person who could be taken seriously. What’s worse, is that I would see other girls as lesser for liking the colour pink, glitter, or for wearing makeup. It took me years to change this way of thinking, and I know that it’s not just me—this is true for so many girls.

Stereotypes pervade many of the problems experienced by young women. Telling girls that they should behave in a certain way in order to be taken seriously brings us back to the olden days when women were forced to perform femininity. Moreover, telling girls that if they appear a certain way, they have a certain personality, is reductive–it contributes to the idea that women are a homogenous group without individual personalities. Not real people, but simply a construction of what society believes we are.

The dehumanisation of women is what keeps misogyny on its feet, and is perpetuated by the media only producing the same stereotypical female characters, instead of creating characters which are believable as real people.

The reason tackling stereotypes is so important is because it can easily be fixed by showing children that the way people present themselves doesn’t have to have anything to do with who they are. If these stereotypes can be broken down while children are still children, then the problem would eventually disappear, but because the stereotypes we were exposed to as children are beyond our control, we must re-educate ourselves once we are old enough to properly understand.

I believe that the true issue experienced by young people is the lack of control we feel over our own lives. While the media we are exposed to will inevitably be out of our control, there are other issues within society which affect young people and could benefit from our voices. I’m talking politics, education, basically everything that affects teenagers more than anyone else. Decisions about these sorts of things are usually made by adults who can’t or won’t see things from our perspective. If young people could be included in the decision-making, if we are allowed to discuss problems in our society and in the media which affect us, we would be far better prepared for the future. 

And as for those stereotypes, although there is little we can do to control what’s already been done, I think it’s important that we can move forward recognising these stereotypes so that we, the next generation, can set about dismantling them. I can’t wait until I can finally open any book and discover new characters with fully fleshed out personalities from all genders, races and sexualities, and for that to become the norm. As the writers, inventors and creators of the future, the decisions we make in the future are crucial; it’s our time to set a precedent for what society should be.

Got an idea for a piece? Email [email protected]

What is an eating disorder?

Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses, characterised by disordered eating behaviour that might include restricting the amount of food eaten, eating very large quantities of food all at once, countering food eaten through purging or excessive exercise, or a combination of these.

It’s important to remember that they’re not really about the physical behaviour, but rather about the thoughts and feelings behind the behaviour – eating disorders may be a way to cope or to feel in control. Anyone can have an eating disorder, no matter what their age, gender, or background.

Perhaps you’ve noticed something about your eating behaviour that worries you, or perhaps someone else has. Regardless of how you came to consider the possibility that you might have an eating disorder, realising that there’s a problem is a really important step. But what about the steps after it? Here are some things that you can do or just keep in mind:

1. Speak to someone that you trust about your concerns

Breaking the silence around eating disorders is vital, because these illnesses thrive on secrecy. You might want to talk to a close friend or family member, a teacher or a therapist. Try noting down beforehand some of what is worrying you, whether that’s your actions or the thoughts you’re having, so that you have some things to centre the conversation around. If there’s information somewhere, such as a list of symptoms, that has caused you to worry, you could show them this so that they understand why you’re concerned. It may be that they have noticed the same things you have and will be very glad that you’ve spoken up.

“Breaking the silence around eating disorders is vital, because these illnesses thrive on secrecy”

If the person you speak to doesn’t react as sensitively as you’d hope, don’t be disheartened. If they don’t understand or are dismissive, that doesn’t mean that your concerns aren’t valid. You deserve support, and you’ve taken the brave and positive step of reaching out, so try speaking to someone else.

2. Seek treatment as soon as possible

Research is very clear that the sooner someone gets treatment for an eating disorder, the greater their chance of a full and sustained recovery. Speak to your GP about your symptoms, and write down some thoughts and questions beforehand so you have something to refer to if you forget anything. You could ask someone you trust to go with you to your appointment to support you. Your GP should be sensitive to your needs, but if you don’t feel that you’re getting the help you need, you can ask to see a different GP.

3. Don’t feel that you have to tick every box on a list of criteria for your illness to be real

Eating disorders are very complex, and while there are lots of symptoms that might be associated with specific eating disorders, not everyone with an eating disorder will have all of them. Anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder are not the only diagnoses – a high percentage of diagnosed eating disorder cases are “other specified feeding or eating disorder” or “OSFED”. These are every bit as serious as any other eating disorder, and it is just as important that you get the treatment and support you need.

“Don’t feel that you have to tick every box on a list of criteria for your illness to be real”

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4. Don’t feel that you have to figure out the cause of your illness or an exact reason to be feeling the way that you do.

It’s thought that eating disorders are a combination of a biological predisposition and a social or environmental trigger, and sometimes people can point to an exact moment that their eating disorder started. But sometimes they can’t, and that’s okay.

Remember, eating disorders are very complex illnesses, and anyone can have one, regardless of their background. If you can’t explain it, or if the cause of your eating disorder doesn’t seem as “serious” to you as the cause of someone else’s, that doesn’t mean that it’s not just as real. You should still seek the support you deserve.

5. Consider keeping a journal to keep track of your thoughts and feelings

This is something that you can share with your doctor or therapist depending on your treatment, as well as use to identify any patterns and potentially learn about what things might help or hinder your recovery.

“No two people with an eating disorder are the same, except for one thing – they are all absolutely deserving of help and support”

6. You could also keep a “go-to box”

This is a collection of things that can provide a distraction from negative thoughts and feelings or help calm you if you’re feeling anxious.

It could be a physical box with activities in it, or something like a collection of apps on your phone. You might be someone who prefers to read your favourite book when you’re struggling, or have a particular game that you find takes your mind off things. No matter how you cope best, the important thing is that you never have to look too far for things that you know will be helpful.

No two people with an eating disorder are the same, except for one thing – they are all absolutely deserving of help and support, and the sooner they get it, the better.

If you feel like you need to talk to someone about eating disorders, or anything that might be bothering you, reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here.

For more information about eating disorders and what to do if you’re worried about yourself or someone you know, go to www.b-eat.co.uk

Hi all! I’m Yasmin Benoit, a British fashion model and asexuality activist. I’ve known that I was aromantic-asexual from a young age, but didn’t come out publicly until 2017, when I decided to use my platform to raise awareness and dispel misconceptions about asexuality. It’s LGBT History Month, and I’ve comprised a list about 10 things I think people need to know about asexuality. Think I missed something? Feel free to add your own!

1) Asexuality isn’t a disorder

Asexuality isn’t a psychological disorder, nor is it a side effect of other mental health problems or developmental disorders, although there might be an overlap with some individuals. It also isn’t a hormonal imbalance, or the result of any kind of illness or physical issue. When I was younger, I used to think that my asexuality would disappear once my social anxiety and teenage insecurity went away. Now I’m a confident adult, and guess what, I’m still asexual!

2) Asexuality isn’t an attitude or a lifestyle choice

There is a difference between being asexual and anti-sex. Asexuality is a sexual orientation, not a lifestyle choice or an opinion. It isn’t the same as celibacy or abstinence, and it isn’t a way of sticking a middle finger up at sexual liberation. There are some asexual people who are repulsed by sex, but that does not mean that asexual people can’t hold sex-positive attitudes when it comes to other people, or themselves.

3) Asexual people aren’t just those who “haven’t found the right person”

If someone said to a straight man, “You’re not straight, you just haven’t found the right man yet,” it’d be both bizarre and inappropriate. That rhetoric doesn’t make sense when it’s applied to asexual people either. It suggests that people are only sexually attracted to the ‘right person,’ like their soulmate, or their other half but if that was the case, the world would be a very different place. Asexuality is a valid sexual orientation, it’s not a reflection of the attractiveness of others, or the result of having high standards and bad circumstances. 



4) The A in LGBTQIA+ stands for Asexual

There is debate surrounding whether asexual people should be included in the community, but in my opinion – and the opinion of many others – the answer is yes. The LGBT+ community is about uniting and gaining equality for those who don’t fit into heteronormative boxes. It isn’t about who you do or don’t have sex with, or whether you have or haven’t had to handle a particular issue.

Asexuality can overlap with other letters in the initials, and even if you’re aromantic and cisgender (like myself), the chances are that you can’t relate to the heterosexual experience of society very much. Isn’t that what being queer is all about?

5) There is no asexual demographic

There are asexual men, women, non-binary people, trans people, crossing all ethnicities, races, ages, all nationalities, and religious identities. We’ve even existed throughout different time periods – asexuality isn’t a new thing.

When I attended the UK Asexuality Conference as a speaker in 2018, it was my first time being around a large group of asexual people, and I was so happy to see such a diverse group – including people over 50, asexual parents, business owners, people of colour, and people of different faiths (and no faiths) from all over the world. Despite the impression that the media gives you, asexual people aren’t all white, quirky millennials who spend a lot of time on Tumblr. 

6) There is no way to ‘look asexual’

There’s a difference between not experiencing sexual attraction and not being attractive yourself, but there are people out there who mix that up. It probably has something to do with the way non-sexual/romantic people are portrayed in the media – as someone no one would be interested in anyway. This misconception is one of the reasons why I started the #ThisIsWhatAsexualLooks like hashtag, to show the diversity in how asexual people look. There is no asexual way to look or dress.

The idea that you have to put no effort into your appearance because you’re asexual suggests that people express themselves through fashion to please others. Asexual people do not have to cover up, wear no make-up, and keep their hair un-styled just because they don’t experience sexual attraction. 



7) There is no asexual personality type

Again, this one is partially the media’s fault. Characters who don’t exhibit signs of sexual desire are often aliens or robotic, unable to understand human interaction and intimacy. They’re cold-hearted, socially detached and painfully awkward, but that doesn’t mean that asexual people actually have these characteristics.

There is no heterosexual personality, a homosexual personality, a bisexual personality, a transgender personality, or any other personality affiliated with a particular identity or sexual orientation. You can be optimistic, depressive, cheerful, subdued, extroverted, introverted, and still be asexual. 

8) Asexuality is a spectrum

You don’t have to experience absolutely no sexual attraction to be asexual. Asexuality is a spectrum, which means that some people experience mild sexual attraction, like greysexual people, and those who only experience sexual attraction to those they develop a close relationship with, like demisexual people. 

9) Some asexual people do want romantic relationships

Romantic orientation and sexual orientation are not the same thing, and many asexual people experience romantic attraction but not sexual attraction. This is where terms like heteroromantic, homoromantic, biromantic, and panromantic come from, with emphasis on a romantic connection rather than a sexual one. There are also asexual people who don’t experience romantic attraction – aromantic asexuals – like myself. 



10) Asexual people can be happy

It’s an unfortunate narrative that asexual people will live loveless and unfulfilled lives, and it really isn’t true. Asexuality isn’t a problem, and it shouldn’t stop anyone from feeling confident and achieving whatever they want to achieve. I haven’t let being asexual stop me from breaking into the fashion industry, even working as a lingerie model, getting two degrees and providing a voice for the often forgotten letter in LGBTQIA+ at the same time. It also hasn’t stopped me from forming strong friendships, which is particularly important for an aromantic person.

Romantic asexual people can find love. They often date each other, and can enter polyamorous, queer-platonic and other ‘non-traditional’ relationships. Asexual people can date people who aren’t asexual and make it work. I know of asexual people who are married, asexual people with children, asexual people in happy and fulfilling relationships of all kinds, with people from within the asexual community and outside of it. Most importantly, I know that there are many asexual people who are happy with themselves. 

For more awesome content on life as an asexual, and general life goals, follow Yasmin on Instagram @theyasminbenoit

Join the conversation. Reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here.

“Planet Earth is full of labels. And I’ve never been comfortable with labels”

It’s LGBT+ History Month, and only a few short weeks since Nikkie Tutorials broke the internet with her powerful, heartfelt and emotional video wherein she came out as transgender. We are celebrating all the amazing LGBT people of the world this month, so here is that incredible story for you.

Trans rights are human rights

First off, this. Trans rights are human rights. Nikkie mentions in her video that she was being blackmailed and so decided to take the narrative into her own hands, before she was ready. Let’s be clear on this – coming out should always be down to the person who wants to come out and them alone. It’s a basic right to be able to have some control over who knows what about you, and this was taken away from her. Despite this, she still did it with grace. 

Trans rights nevertheless are under attack the world over, and many trans people live with abuse and fear every day. We teamed up with our friends over at Brandwatch to take a look at transphobic abuse online, and you can read the full report here

F*** the haters, amiright? 

Transphobic abuse is something that trans people have to deal with every single day of their lives. Our research looked at 10,000,000 public social media posts over a three year period, 1,500,000 of which were put on a scale of transphobic abuse. That’s right, it happens so much that there is even a scale for it, going from ‘acts of trans bias’ all the way up to inciting trans genocide. That’s horrendous.

Nikkie’s brave coming out video showed us all just how hard it is for someone to come out, and how that’s even harder for someone who is being blackmailed. Like we said above, it’s the right of only the person who is coming out to control that narrative, and absolutely no one else. 


The support she is getting is giving us all the warm fuzzies

Possibly one of the absolute very best things about this though, is the support we see she is getting from every corner of the internet. Whilst there may be a few haters out there trying to shout her down, we are so happy to see everyone backing her until the end on this one. You deserve the love Nikkie, you are fire. 

Now one of the largest makeup channels in the world is owned by an openly transgender woman 

Visibility can be tough for a trans person, and can often be the last thing they want. But by providing the world with another strong, smart, powerful role model who just happens to be trans, hopefully the world will become more of a kinder place for trans people to exist. We certainly hope it will. 

“This feels liberating and freeing, but I, at the end of the day, am still Nikkie.”

Towards the end of the video, Nikkie states just how much this has been tearing her apart, but also how incredibly liberating it feels to be free of the weight of carrying it around. Coming out can be super difficult, but most people state it makes them feel so much better to be able to live life without the burden of a secret. The most important thing to remember though is that if you are struggling with this, you can come out to whoever you feel comfortable with, and at your own pace. Someone else’s story is not yours, and you get to decide when and to whom you come out. Need some help coming out as trans? We’ve got some top tips for you here

#IamMe

Just hours after the video dropped, the hashtag #IamMe was trending across social media. We are here for it. You are who you are, and that is pretty damn amazing. You are unique and individual, and with that comes so much power to be happy. You are who you are, and whatever you might be going through, you’ve got this. 

So Nikkie, we applaud you for everything you are doing. We stan a strong woman, and we are backing you all the way b. 

You can watch Nikkie’s video below

Feel like you need someone to talk to, but maybe can’t speak with those in your life yet? You can speak to one of our trained Digital Mentors here for confidential support.

It’s LGBT history month! So we caught up with Sam Stanley, one of the first openly gay rugby players, to chat about rugby, pride, and how he dealt with coming to terms with his sexuality in an industry where very few had already done so.

Hi Sam, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Sure, I’m an English born boy from Thurrock in Essex, raised by a Kiwi (someone from New Zealand) father and an English mother. I’ve Samoan heritage also. 

I played rugby from the age of 4 and ever since I can remember, it was my dream to play it professionally. My uncle was an All Black and so my father, as well as his other brothers, made sure their children would have rugby in their blood!

I would say I was around 10 years old when I started feeling different to what I was “supposed” to feel. Almost like my emotions weren’t in tact and that I was pretty strange feeling the way I did.

Being a rugby player, there’s this apparent “macho” way of being that you’re supposed to live up to so you can imagine the fear of thinking I may be gay. I say this because growing up, and even now I still hear, being gay for some reason meant you were less of a man – camp, effeminate, soft etc I’ve heard them all. People even tell me now how “it’s nice because you don’t act like a gay person”. If I acted like “a gay person” would you think of me differently? Maybe we’re all just very judgemental!!

Anyway long story short, I’m an out and proud gay man moving between London and Sicily with my partner Laurence. We’ve had a place in Sicily since 2013 and lived here for 18 months previously; having been together now for 9 years.

You played a very high level and touring with the England Sevens in the World Series, how did that feel to represent your country?

For me it was the icing on the cake having had numerous knee operations and struggling to stay fit.

I played at Saracens previously, having risen through their academy. I only managed a handful of first team appearances here and there, however, as I found myself sidelined a lot through injury. Maybe I should have played golf.

I’m just grateful that Simon Amor gave me the opportunity to do so and loved my time playing 7s. Met some awesome people along the way.


You’ve mentioned your mum being a huge support, what do you think that did for you when you were coming to terms with your identity?

Well at first I think Mum struggled to come to terms with it. We actually kept it a secret as her view was a protective one. She had gay friends growing up so not that that was the issue but more from the point of view of ‘What will it do for your career? If a coach is homophobic it might be detrimental to your progression’ etc. Also, she was afraid at what my siblings & father would say.

No disrespect to my mum but it was actually my ex girlfriend who was a huge support and helped push things forward for me. I consider her my best friend and I’m her gay best friend haha! I’m lucky I have numerous supportive people around me. My brother, sister, father, aunties, uncles… too many to name.

How did it feel to be hiding your sexuality from your teammates?

It was the worst feeling to be honest. Having to see them day in day out making sure I had my lies down to a tee. Not being able to be open about who I really was, what I got up to at weekends. The only real social life I had in rugby was when I had to be at a function or something. I’d try and avoid going out with the boys every time, at least until I was honest about who I am, which was the best feeling in the world. It was a huge weight to carry and I hate the fact that so many people go through this.

What was the response from your teammates like when you did come out? Did anything change?

Yes a lot changed! The boys were great. I was playing 7s at the time so quite a tight knit group of only 18 full time players then. Lots of questions asked, obviously, and people were taking an interest in what it was like. It gave me lots of confidence and I was able to be training and playing without that fear anymore. 

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Did you receive any negative comments online after coming out? How do you deal with that?

Not directly but certainly indirectly that I saw on some threads. I think I’m responsible enough to know anyone can make an account and hide behind it. Negative comments I just tried to overlook. You’ve just got to laugh it off really.

How does it feel to see great ally support online and recently at London Pride from big name players in the game like Drew Mitchell, James Haskell, Chris Robshaw and plenty more?

Oh it’s great to see! Such progress in rugby and its inclusiveness. These guys just keep helping the cause. They certainly seem to be making it easier for players to be themselves. It would have been awesome to see the support back when I was struggling. I admire Drew Mitchell for his support, particularly with the issue over Israel Folau. They were teammates and as similar playing positions may have been pretty close at one point. Probably most players that disagreed [with Folau] kept quiet so it’s great to see others speak up! 

What advice would you give to a young sports player who is also coming to terms with their identity?

I think it’s a tough one all the time because there’s a lot to coming out. What are their family and friends like? Will they be supportive? Can the person support themselves or be supported if things don’t go so well?

From experience, I can say now that things have been great since being able to be truthful. Not having to hide your life really is incredible.

What’s the best thing about being in the prominent position you’re in and having come out?

That having shared my story helped others come to terms with themselves. I love receiving messages of support from those that have found courage because of what I have done. It really makes it all worthwhile.

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Sam’s story is nothing short of inspiring and he’s a downright awesome bloke. For more from him, be sure to follow his Instagram @samstannerz.

For more interviews, inspiring stories and everyday motivation, follow our Instagram @ditchthelabel.