I was fortunate to be born with a gender I feel comfortable with. I was born female, and I am comfortable with being female. I don’t love everything about my gender (periods!!) but I am generally comfortable with my gender.

So I can’t fully understand what it feels like to look at my body and think that this is all wrong, that this outside appearance doesn’t reflect the real me inside. I don’t know how it feels to have gender dysphoria. I don’t know what it feels like to be so distressed by trying to fit in with the gender I was born with that I think of suicide.

BUT, that doesn’t mean I can’t accept what people tell me about how they feel this way. It doesn’t stop me listening to people who identify with a gender other than the one they were assigned with at birth. It doesn’t stop me from recognising that this is their truth. Just because I can’t fully understand what they are dealing with, this doesn’t stop me from being able to empathise, listen, and have compassion.

We have all had feelings that have been difficult to deal with, many of us have felt different in some way, many of us have had times where things seem hopeless and we don’t know how to carry on. So we need to use that understanding to allow us to empathise with others and be compassionate. Just because you don’t fully understand something, and have never walked in those particular shoes, that doesn’t mean that ‘something’ is bad or wrong.

People who are different get a lot of abuse. Why is this? Are people afraid of what they don’t understand? Why can’t they stop for a moment and find some compassion. Yes, you don’t understand this, but the world is not limited by your understanding, is it? Does gravity stop working because you don’t understand how it works? Does the sky stop being blue because you don’t understand all that stuff about particles in the atmosphere? Does your wifi stop working because you can’t understand how all that information can magically cross thin air and reach your laptop? No. So why should your lack of understanding of another person translate into hate and abuse? When you don’t understand something, it doesn’t mean it isn’t real, it doesn’t mean it is not that person’s absolute truth.

People who are different don’t threaten you. They don’t stop you from being you. They don’t affect how you should feel about yourself. Trans people won’t make you trans. Gay people won’t make you gay. Just because you don’t understand what it’s like to be them, it doesn’t mean that they are any kind of threat to you. Just like not understanding gravity won’t suddenly make you shoot up into the sky, gravity-free, disappearing off into space! You might not understand gravity but it doesn’t stop it existing. Same with people who are different. You don’t understand who they are, but it doesn’t stop them existing, it doesn’t stop their truth from being true. Whether or not you understand gravity you still stay stuck on the ground. Whether or not you understand being trans, people will still be trans, and whether or not you understand being gay, people will still be gay.

I am a firm believer in the power of compassion. I believe its the lack of it that is at the basis of most of the world’s wrongs. Compassion for LGBT humans, compassion for refugee humans, compassion for homeless humans, compassion for humans who have fallen into poverty, compassion for disabled humans, compassion for immigrant humans. We are all humans. No matter our gender identity, sexual orientation, race, situation, we are ALL HUMANS.

Think of those days when you were down, days when things had gone wrong, days when you wondered how you would carry on. What makes a difference on those days? A simple smile. Someone thanking you for something. A little bit of hope that things will be better tomorrow. That is what you can offer to others and it’s really simple. Be compassionate. Be kind. Accept that people are different, but they’re all people, they’re all human. Treat them as you’d like to be treated. It’s really not hard.

By Suzy Shipman

I like to take photos and write words ...


  1. Thank you so much for this beautiful post. Our eldest, now our daughter, has faced and dealt with this. So may people, at her work, in her family and her friends have shown just such compassion for which we feel truly grateful. Love to you. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well said! I don’t understand it either. It doesn’t matter to me what gender, race, age, weight etc someone is – if I like them, I like them; if I don’t, I don’t – but I wouldn’t take to social media to abuse them and I certainly don’t feel threatened because they are ‘different’. We are each unique and special beings and should celebrate our individuality.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks, Suzy, for your wonderful post. You raise some really thoughtful and thought-provoking questions. Why indeed do we feel threatened by those who are different? All too often we say with our lips that we value diversity, but our actions show that we actually prefer conformity. Why? As you suggest, kindness and compassion should be out default response when we don’t understand.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply to Eileen Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.