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It’s been an ugly year in many ways, not least for the trans community. But even in the darkest of times, there is light.

Whether it was the Court of Appeal overturning Bell v Tavistock, a huge moment of relief for trans kids and their families, non-binary representation on TV in shows like Sex Education and Feel Good, small gestures of allyship from the likes of Billy Bragg and Lorraine Kelly, or Joshua Cavallo shutting down the LGBA in the most perfect way, there was plenty that put a smile on our faces in 2021. 

It can be hard to allow yourself a smile when there’s so much to be done, and it’s certainly been a busy year for us. We saw demand for our services continue to rise, with more than 31,000 contacts via our helpline, web chat and email. We’ve also launched new local groups in Scotland and Wales, and in the period April – December 2021, delivered 329 individual training sessions to over 5,000 people. We also held our first residential weekend in more than two years and released our first podcast!

Our campaigns, fundraising and communications’ teams helped to engage a bigger audience than ever before, research has been busy on several different projects, and legal and policy have been hard at work, offering invaluable support to young people and their families, challenging the charitable status of LGBA and making sure a ban on conversion therapy protects trans people, among other things. 

It’s been non-stop. 

But as the year draws to a close, we’re stopping and taking a moment to reflect. To allow a smile. Because in times of adversity, joy is radical. 

So from the silly to the serious, here’s what brought Mermaids’ staff, volunteers and service users joy in 2021…

“I came out to my dad this year. My mum already knew but we both agreed not to tell my dad straight away. He took it so much better than I thought. He had lots of questions which was super awkward but he’s actually been cool about it.”

Young person

“My highlight of 2021 was being able to recruit additional helpline services officers so that we can meet the increased demand in need. Two of those staff members have been volunteers which shows that we give our volunteers opportunities to expand their skills base in order to apply for paid roles. It has been amazing to see Mermaids’ staff team grow more generally to meet the demand, but also to become more inclusive and representative of the people we support and wish to support.”

Krystyna (She/Her), Helpline Service Manager

“The highlight of this year was my daughter’s 15th birthday party. She invited 16 friends and had a great time. This was especially heartwarming because when she was in year seven, we considered pulling her out of school due to bullying and a lack of friends. It’s amazing to see how she’s grown in confidence over the past four years, and how many of the pupils at her school have become more educated and accepting. Next year, we’re looking forward to more of the same please!

Parent

“As a trans masculine, non-binary person, a huge source of joy has been watching Elliot Page’s gender euphoria and advocacy throughout 2021, since his coming out in December 2020. I’m so grateful and inspired by his willingness to use his platform to advocate for trans kids around the world; he is an awesome role model and has empowered so many this year.”

Lui (They/Them), Director of Legal and Policy

“My personal highlights: Joining Mermaids in January, moving into my new house in May, my second T anniversary in October and having my consultation about top surgery this month. More general highlights: Nikkie De Jager (NikkieTutorials) becoming the first trans person to host Eurovision, Sex Education introducing two non-binary characters and did the storyline well! Elliot Page sharing pictures of himself after top surgery – it made me feel proud to be trans and I felt like he was showing that top surgery scars are beautiful and nothing to be ashamed of. Laurel Hubbard becoming the first trans person to compete at the Olympics.” 

Keith (He/They), Helpline Service Officer

“My awwwwesome friends. I also joined a roller derby team that is trans inclusive. Also my dog. My dog is the most good boy ever. He’s so smol and fluffy and if I am ever sad I just cuddle him.”

Young person

“The highlight of my year has been watching my daughter’s happy face as she becomes who she has always been. She’s gone from hardly leaving the house (even in pre-Covid times) to thriving in Sixth Form with lots of friends and a lovely boyfriend. For my child, coming out as trans has been a journey but has brought her happiness and as parents that is all we want. The difference a year makes!”

Parent

“My highlight of 2021 was recording this podcast with Verity. It was so much fun, and we got to just hang out and talk about sport and the important work Verity does in making sport more inclusive for young people. I’m looking forward to 2022, when we’ll be publishing lots of research, and scoping out new projects, which is always exciting! Watch this space.”

Abby (She/Her), Researcher

“My highlight of the year is going on a journey of figuring out that I’m trans… I’ve tried to get my name and pronouns around my year. I got the situation sorted by talking to my form tutor… It was a bit hard but it was worth letting someone know as it helped a lot. Next year I am looking forward to hopefully being accepted with my name and pronouns, and getting my mind off negativity with horse riding.” 

Young person

“My highlight of 2021, aside from joining Mermaids in August this year, was attending my first residential. It was an incredibly emotional and empowering weekend, and felt like exhaling after holding my breath for days.”

Carrie (She/They), Digital Engagement Manager

“The highlight of this year for me was watching my son take to the stage at Comic-Con Masquerade in a costume we had made together. He looked so confident and happy in front of all those hundreds of people and he was so proud of himself for getting up there.”

Parent

“My highlight of the year was the podcast I did with Abby, making our video with Miles, a young trans rugby player, and our Active About Inclusion campaign. I’m looking forward to supporting more young people to play the sports they love in 2022.”

Verity (He/Him), Trans Inclusion in Sports Youth Worker

“The highlight of my year has been getting rid of toxic people and habits that were stopping me from being who I really am. Next year I’m looking forward to progressing with my transition, improving my mental health and meeting new people <3” 

Young person

“A young person I work with came out a few months ago and I was able to support him.”

Alec, Volunteer

“My highlight of this year is finally accepting who I am. In 2022, I’m looking forward to shaving all my hair off and donating it :)”

Young person

“The highlight of my year was going to my first Pride. At the time I was only out as bisexual and I wasn’t out as trans but it was an impeccable experience. It felt so welcoming and I got to meet so many cool people. The drag acts that were performing were also amazing and completely took my breath away.”

Young person

“I’d have to say the highlight of my year is all the moments since I publicly came out that gave me euphoria. I can’t choose!”

Young person

“My mum bought me a birthday card that said son on the front. I literally cried for hours.”

Young person

A heartfelt thank you to each and every one of our supporters for being our light, this year and always. We couldn’t do what we do without you. From everyone at Mermaids, Happy New Year!