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Photography by Julia Forsman

Thank you, Mermaids, for explaining and showing me lots, in such a friendly environment. I’m so grateful.”

Parent, residential attendee

Happy, laughing children everywhere; what more could you ask for?!”

Parent, residential attendee

What do the weekends consist of?

A variety of speakers are invited to attend, not only to show that being transgender is something to be celebrated, but to empower and enable families and young people to access the best care possible. Entertaining activities are laid on for the young and not-so-young and there are opportunities to learn from professionals, peers and people at various stages of their gender journeys.

Details of the dates for our residential weekends and booking links are published on our community forums, so you must be registered on the forums to access this information. 

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What can I expect on a residential weekend?

Mermaids weekends run from Friday afternoon to Sunday lunchtime, and are an opportunity to come together and share life experiences, make friends, and relax, in a safe space. They are also fun, life affirming and informative. Don’t take our word for it, here are some quotes from attendees

Met new friends. Met some truly inspirational people. Felt like we belonged. Had some fantastic conversations. All my questions have been answered. Such a lovely place to come, the environment is amazing”

Parent, residential 2019

I remember meeting a lot of new friends, and all the activities and crafts were exciting for us all. Eating together and chatting was a really relaxed way of getting to know people. I remember not wanting to leave my first one!”

Young person aged 12

Some wonderful, fun and friendly young adults, who are positive role models for the younger kids and very inspiring! Informative & honest talks that are relevant & very helpful.”

Parent, residential 2019

Residential reflections

Mermaids’ Carrie Lyell (She/They) looks back on our first residential in more than two years.

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My residential story

From service user to role model, Moss (They/He) shares their story.

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Life as a transgender, non-binary or gender diverse young person can be challenging, and we know that the same applies for supportive parents/carers, who often have to run the gamut of well-meaning, if ignorant, curiosity. Mermaids residential weekends are a safe space; a way to press pause on the rest of the world, knowing that everyone you meet within those few days understands. Their journey may not be the same as yours, their lives impacted in different ways, but the one thing you can count on is the sense of community, and unhesitating and complete inclusion of all trans young people and their families.

That evening there was a kind of magic.  After a lovely meal, everyone was just milling about chatting I found myself listening to other’s stories, telling ours, swapping stories about things I couldn’t talk about anywhere else, it felt like I spent the whole evening laughing.  I laughed until my tummy hurt … it was a huge release of tension. I didn’t have to try to “fit in” these people understood what I was going through … every bit of it. 

Parent, residential 2019

Seeing the families together at the Mermaids residential warmed my heart”

Amy’s residential experience

Mermaids’ Director of Operations reflects on her first residential

“I attended my first Mermaids residential recently. I had heard lots of good things but didn’t really know what to expect.

As it turned out I was blown away at how positive and affirming it was for the families attending.

Many families were attending for the first time also, and I could see and feel the nervousness from them. It took a while for some of the adults and young people to relax but by the end of the evening people were laughing and smiling and young people were having fun chatting  and playing games with each other. It was a joy to see.

I chatted to several of the families that weekend and I was struck at how worried many parents or guardians were about whether they were doing enough for their young people. I tried to reassure that just by being there, supporting their young person they were doing more than enough.

When I transitioned, one of the most scary times I went through was having to tell my parents. I was terrified. I thought that they would disown me and never speak to me again. I could see the sadness in their eyes as I told them but then the words ‘whatever, you are still our child and we love you’. There were tears that day.

There were difficult days ahead, there were happy days too, but what made it all so much easier was the support and love from my parents. They got me through it, and still do. For that I will be eternally grateful.

Before coming out to my parents we never really expressed our emotions as a family. Now we always say ‘Love You’ after every time we see each other. Being trans has actually brought us closer together.

I realise that I speak from a place of great privilege. Many people I know have not had the same fortune and have faced rejection and hate from their families. I have seen the impact and the hurt it causes. So seeing the families together at the Mermaids residential warmed my heart. The parents and guardians I met that weekend were superheroes in my eyes. Just the fact that they were there was so amazing. Their love and support visible for all to see.

I came away feeling joy that a space had been created for families to relax and for young people just to be themselves. I felt sadness too that people’s lives could not just be like that all the time. I also felt pride in my parents who had also shown me so much compassion and support. Sometimes the simplest acts can mean so much.”