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.

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.

coming out to homophobic parents

So you’ve read a few blogs or articles, maybe watched some stuff on YouTube… generally done some research on how to come out to your parents. Some have been helpful, some are downright patronizing. But all of them leave you thinking “that’s all very well and good but you don’t know MY mum or dad…”

We’ve got you covered. If you have homophobic parents but you want to come out – this article is for you.

1. Find outside support.

Make sure you have support and tell at least one adult that you trust before you tell your parents. This could be a teacher, someone from your extended family or a friend’s parent. This will give you a safe space to turn to if your parent’s reaction is hostile and help you feel stronger going into it.

2. Check out your options.

Is now the right time? Would a safer option be to wait until you move out or go to Uni? What is your plan B if the worst does happen? Do you have the number for helplines? Can you go and stay with extended family or close a friend if you need some space while your parents adjust to the news. Your safety and well-being must always come first. While it might feel scary to have to think about these questions, it’s crucial to be prepared.

3. Be clear on what you are telling them.

If you are coming out as gay, avoid the trap of thinking that coming out as bisexual first is an easier way to help them reach a place of acceptance.  Stick with the truth, if you are gay, tell them. If you are bisexual, tell them that.

4. Give time, time.

First reactions are raw, unprocessed and unpredictable. We all need time to process big news regardless of the situation. Give your parents time to adjust to this news and know that first reactions are not always lasting reactions.

5. You are not alone.

Right now as you read this article there are millions of people all over the world facing the same situation as you. Never lose sight of the fact you are not alone, you can and will get through this. Keeping your sexuality a secret can be enormously stressful. No matter how scared you might feel now, this will get easier. On the other side of that fear is relief and liberation.

6. Shame is a liar.

If your parent’s reaction is to try and shame you for your sexuality. Please know that shame is a liar. What it tells you and how it seeks to make you feel is distorted bulls***! The whole process of coming out of the closet is going against the shame that plays a part in keeping you hidden and in the dark. Your sexuality and shame have no place together. Your sexuality is normal and there is nothing wrong or bad about loving who you want to love.

rainbow umbrella

7. Homophobia sucks.

Coming out to your parents can be a scary prospect. Add a dollop of homophobia on top and it’s downright petrifying. Bottom line is: homophobia sucks!

It sucks because we don’t choose our sexuality.

It sucks because we live in a society that places one sexuality as the norm at the expense of any other.

It sucks because life can be tough enough without experiencing ignorance and hatred towards something you are powerless over.

It sucks because your family might miss out on the chance of loving you because they can’t see past their own fears based on ignorance.

8. Talk to us.

Everyone’s experience is different so whether you are on the brink of doing it, have done it but are struggling or need 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…

9. Join your local LGB Community 🌈.

There is nothing more powerful than being around and supported by people who get what you are going through. Don’t deprive yourself of the opportunity to find belonging. We can’t choose our family but as life unfolds, we can choose our friends. You get to come home to the people who love you for you, regardless of sexuality.

So, if you are wondering how to tell your parents your gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual or transgender, that’s how to start. Your journey is just beginning. If you need any further help, you can join our free, anonymous community.

Coming out as lesbian, gay or bisexual can be difficult, there’s no point pretending otherwise. However, many people have really positive experiences coming out and often regret not doing it sooner.

It’s really important, however, that you take the time to consider your own personal circumstances when making the decision to tell people close to you that you are lesbian, gay or bisexual. What may be right for one person, may not be right for you. Your safety and wellbeing should always come first.

Although the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans communities have many things in common and frequently align themselves with one another, the experiences of exploring your gender identity and coming out as trans can be very different to being open about your sexuality.

If you are looking for tips on coming out as trans, why not check out this guide written by Lewis Hancox?

Top 11 tips for Coming Out as lesbian, gay or bisexual:

1. Don’t feel pressured.

Everyone should come out in their own time. You may feel under pressure to tell those close to you that you are lesbian, gay or bisexual before you are ready. Don’t. Coming out is about you and no one else. If you start to think about pleasing others you will lose sight of what is really important – your happiness. Focusing on yourself and what’s important to you will ultimately make those you’re close to happier as well.

2. Don’t label yourself if you don’t want to.

Although you may feel ready to come out, you may not feel you fit any particular ‘label’. Using terms like lesbian, gay and bisexual is absolutely fine, but never feel forced to identify as anything. Listen to your feelings and go with them! If a label helps you and feels right then great. If it doesn’t then don’t worry.

3. You don’t have to choose between your faith and your sexuality.

Most religions have groups for their lesbian, gay and bisexual followers. Go online to find a group near you. Having faith and being gay are not mutually exclusive!

4. Read how other people came out.

RUComingOut has over 300 real-life coming out stories as well as interviews from celebrities. Most people who come out go through the same anxieties and they experience very similar fears. Hearing how things turned out for others who were

5. Tell one person.

When you are ready to come out (you will know when the time feels right) – don’t think you have to tell everyone straight away –  it’s not a race! Choose one person who you trust more than anyone else – a friend, sibling, parent/guardian or teacher.

As soon as you’ve opened up to the first person things will seem a thousand times easier and clearer for you. It’s an age-old saying but talking really does help. You’ll also have someone you can talk to and ask advice from when coming out to others.


6. Forget the stereotypes.

When gay people first started to appear on TV and in the media, the stereotypes that were common were those of effeminate camp men and butch women. Some people still think that every gay man and woman have to fit that stereotype.

Others may feel that the stereotypes have flipped and gay men should be muscular and have beards while lesbians should have long blonde hair and wear lots of makeup!

The truth is, stereotypes suck and we all know they do. Being lesbian, gay or bi does not have to define you. If you’re camp, great. If you’re butch, fantastic. If you like going to the gym, good on you. If you prefer a good film to a good run, amazing.

Growing up (and discovering your sexuality) is all about finding out who you are, what you like and how you want to be and it’s an exciting time!

7. You’ll be protected at school, college and university.

Every school, college, uni and even workplace has a legal obligation to ensure that every one of its students or employees is treated fairly and offered the same opportunities. Many schools realise the importance of making sure their staff are trained to tackle homophobia when they see it.

Lots of schools even have their own LGBTQ student groups where students can meet and make friends. You should never feel pressured to join a group like this, but you may find that you meet loads of other people who have been, or are going through, similar experiences as you.

8. Think about the positives.

It is very easy to let the anxieties and fears around coming out completely take over the experience. But remember, coming out is one of the most amazing things you will ever do. You will finally be able to be your whole self and it WILL change your life.

Those butterflies you feel in your stomach – see them as excitement rather than nerves!


Here are some lessons you may find useful that Max Hovey learnt from coming out.


9. Some people do have negative experiences.

There’s no point denying it. That’s why it’s important that if you decide the time is right for you to come out, make sure you have a safety net if things don’t go to plan. There is support available if you find yourself feeling lost or alone.

10. Give people time.

You may have had years to get to a place where you are comfortable with being lesbian, gay or bisexual. Just think though, those people who you will be telling will have a split second to give you a reaction. Give them a chance to digest the news. It may come as a complete surprise. Surprise and shock doesn’t mean disapproval from them.

They may have questions, so pre-empt what these could be and be prepared to support them too. They may need your support as much as you need theirs!

11. Start living!

You will be amazed at how free you will feel once you have come out. Obviously, the experience is different for everyone and at times it may not go as well as you’d like.

Just remember that you are doing the right thing, you are allowing yourself to be who you were always meant to be and this means you can start living YOUR life! Remember to create that safety net around you though, just in case things don’t go exactly to plan.


Can we guess where you are on the gender scale? Take the quiz >>

Wayne Dhesi is a youth manager at UK-based LGBT charity, Stonewall. To find out more about his work follow him on Twitter.

So today is Transgender Day of Remembrance, which is a pretty big deal for trans people and allies all over the world. But why do we need this day? It can seem like there is a day for everything, but trust us, this is one of the most important ones out there. That’s why we put together this list of all the reasons why this is a day we all need, not just trans people, but all of us. 

1) Transphobia is still everywhere, especially online 

So we recently put our heads together with our friends over at Brandwatch and we put out a report about transphobia online. They analysed social media posts over three years and found some pretty nasty stuff going down. There were over 1.5 million of transphobic comments across all kinds of social media. That’s ridiculous. You can read our full report here

2) In fact, some are even inciting the murder and genocide of trans people online 

The same report found that there was a scale of online hate directed towards transgender people. It went from ‘acts of trans bias’ all the way up to inciting trans genocide. That’s horrendous. Plus, there was a whole bunch of anti-trans slurs used online. The most common slur we found was the term ‘tranny’ or ‘trannies’, which was cited 1.2 million times, and accounted for 80% of the abuse that we found. Other terms were ‘Shemale’ at 156,000 times, ‘Gender-bender’ at 56,000 times, ‘transtrender’ at 32,000 times, ‘chicks with dicks’ at 26,000 times, ‘Heshe’ at 18,000 times, ‘Ladyboy’ at 6,000, ‘Shehe’ at 3,000 times and ‘trap’ at 450 times. 

3) Trans people of colour are a specific target

Race was a huge motivator in the abuse, and trans women of colour were a huge target especially. There have also been some pretty high profile cases in the US of trans women of colour being the victims of violence. Literally because they are living as their selves. We know, it seems wild right? 

4) Trans people are still having their rights attacked in public spaces

Global politics are also a big motivator for anti-trans speech. Like when Trump was elected and inaugurated, there was a big spike in transphobic stuff going down online and in public. Things like the military ban on trans people in the US and Ricky Gervais’ new transphobic material are all quietly attacking the rights of trans people to live a normal life. 

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5) There is no safe space 

Pride was always a place where anyone in the LGBT+ space can protest, celebrate and remember those that lost their lives fighting for the rights and freedoms that LGBT+ people can enjoy today. But, London Pride in 2018 was hijacked by transphobic radical feminists, suggesting that trans issues made women’s issues less important. Pride was supposed to be a safe space for anyone who needed one, and even that was taken away. 

6) And it doesn’t look like any of this is going to change anytime soon

Our report found that not only is transphobia a huge issue online, but it also found that it is steadily growing. Transphobic violence is up as well. Unless we all join forces as allies against this kind of abuse, it isn’t going to change. 

7) We need to stop this from happening…

Transgender Day of Rememberance is all about remembering those that were victims of transphobic violence and murder, or those who took their own lives. We need to stop this from happening to more trans people across the globe. 

8) …Because EVERYONE has the basic human right to be who they are…

Every single person on the planet has the right to live their truth, no matter what gender they were assigned at birth and what name they choose when they are ready for a new one. They deserve to go through life unharassed, unattacked, and free from hate. 

9) … And we are ALL better than this.

If an alien came to the planet, what would they think about the way we treat this vulnerable portion of our population? They’d probably find it crazy that we would even dream of harming other human beings like this. We are all better than this, and we can always do more to be an ally. For some top tips on being a trans ally, read our article here

Been affected by transphobic hate? You can speak to one of our trained Digital Mentors here for confidential support and advice. 

So, guys, we have done a bit of digging with our partners over at Brandwatch. Well, actually, a lot of digging. We joined forces to analyse 10 million online posts over the past three and a half years to explore a really serious issue affecting hundreds of thousands of people every day: transphobia. 

The issue is growing with every year that passes, so we wanted to better understand what is driving transphobic hate speech online so that we can evolve and develop the support that we offer, and lead the charge in the fight against it. Because of this, we think everyone should be a trans ally. 

So, what did we find out? Well, here are some of the key stats and issues our research highlighted. Before you read on though, we know that this subject can be difficult for some to deal with, especially if you’ve been the subject of transphobic aggression or abuse, you can speak to one of our trained digital mentors in confidence here

1) There were over 10,000,000 examples of transphobia in just 1,230 days

10 MILLION! Just let that sink in for a second. That’s three times the entire population of Los Angeles. That’s more than everyone who lives in London. Trans people have been constantly under attack for three years, and the numbers do not lie. 

2) That’s an average of more than 8130 examples of abuse per day

Every day, 8130 social media posts or comments were posted attacking trans people and trans rights. This goes from acts of trans discrimination all the way to inciting murder and violence against trans people, simply because they are who they are and are living life as their authentic selves. 

3) There are as many as 9 slurs against trans people that are used often 

Basically this means there were nine insults constantly and repeatedly used when talking about trans people. The most common slur we found was the term ‘tranny’ or ‘trannies’, which was cited 1.2 million times, and accounted for 80% of the abuse that we found. Other terms were ‘Shemale’ at 156,000 times, ‘Gender-bender’ at 56,000 times, ‘transtrender’ at 32,000 times, ‘chicks with dicks’ at 26,000 times, ‘Heshe’ at 18,000 times, ‘Ladyboy’ at 6,000, ‘Shehe’ at 3,000 times and ‘trap’ at 450 times. 

That’s a lot of abuse. 

4) Global politics has a direct impact on the abuse 

We all know that we live in times of a lot of polarised views. But political events like the Trump inauguration and Brexit saw a huge spike in anti-trans sentiment. Not only this, but policies that had a direct impact on trans rights such as the bathroom bills, the Trump military ban and Trump gender bill have all had a direct impact on the ability of trans people to go about their daily lives. If this wasn’t enough, it caused a huge increase in the number of anti-trans speech online. 

5) Trans people, especially trans women of colour are a specific target 

A huge amount of the abuse that we found was directed specifically towards trans women, and that number increased further still for trans women of colour. 

To read the full report, click here

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6) Basic rights are still under attack

It would be hard to have missed the fact that in the last three years, tran rights have been under attack in politics and in the public space. Since the Bathroom Bills, Trump’s military ban and the Gender Bill, the rights of trans people to simply make decisions and go about their daily lives have been under threat. Imagine having to deal with that, as well as all the online abuse that we have found. 

7) Even Pride was taken over by transphobic abuse 

In 2018, Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists took over the London Pride march to express their anger at the inclusion of trans issues in feminist discussion. As a result, anti-trans sentiment spiked in the UK, and more and more people started to voice negative ideas about trans people. It was Pride, a space that was supposed to be safe, to protest about equality, loving yourself, and to not repeat the past. 

8) Acts of violence, and incitement of violence, are growing 

A few months ago, the third trans woman of colour was found murdered in Dallas, Texas alone this year. The death of Chynal Lindsey only shows just how much more at risk trans people are of being injured or killed by violence, and for trans people of colour that risk is higher still. Our research found that transphobic violence was a common theme, which covered everything from threats, calls for violence, vandalism, terrorism, assault, sexual harrassment and more. This is not ok. 

9) Being who you are is always the right thing to do 

Here at the Ditch the Label, we think everyone has a fundamental right to be exactly who they are, free from prejudice and free from hate. Being who you are and living as your authentic is always the right thing to do. One more time for the people at the back. 

Always. The. Right. Thing. 

 10) And we need to stop the hate 

Obviously, lots of work needs to be done to address the growing problem of hate speech online. We want to help. Nobody should be subjected to any type of bullying in any space. Ever. Periodt. 

To read the full report, click here

Need some tips on being the best trans ally you can? Read this

If you have been affected by any of the type of abuse highlighted in our study, or need someone to talk to, you can speak to one of our trained digital mentors in confidence here

We are living a full Pride fantasy summer here at Ditch the Label, and as part of the celebrations, influencer, model and all round legend Max Hovey has written about his experiences of coming out.

Coming out is hard, but it doesn’t have to be.

It’s not really a big deal once you’re out, but in your own head, you might be visualizing literally every worst possible reaction from the people you love. It’s daunting, anxiety inducing, and before you come out, it can feel like you’ll do almost anything to hide who you really are. 

It’s better than you think it’s going to be, trust me. Whilst everyone’s experience is going to be different, and heartbreakingly some people have much worse experiences than others, it can be the most liberating thing you’ll ever do. I came out summer 2016, I was 17. There were ups and downs, but compared to some people my experience was relatively plain sailing. Here are the 8 things that I learned from my coming out experience.


1) Most people really don’t give a f**k.

periodt.

2) You don’t have to force yourself to tell people with some grand gesture, or make it a big deal.

Hell, I told literally everyone I care about by text (apart from when I was drunk at parties lol). Both of my parents, my entire family even, simply got the text “I’m gay”. So, don’t feel you need to sit everyone down with big news if you’re genuinely not comfortable doing so. It’s your thing, it’s your story, own it however you like.

3) You will lose people, but not everyone you lose is a loss.

I lost a large group of friends very quickly, and growing up in an all-boys school as a gay man was hard. Trying to fit in, pretending I liked girls (because sorry girls, I’m 110% gay, like not even remotely hetero and never will be). So, it was hard to come out in that environment. It had also taken me a long time to gain the respect and friendship of a lot of the guys in my school, which very quickly vanished from a lot of them. All it showed me was who my true friends were. I had a large group of people who really didn’t care that I had come out, and a lot of them were guys, and I will be forever grateful for the support and kindness that they showed me.

4) It’s like a sigh of relief

For anyone that has seen Love Simon (for real I cried throughout this entire film because it just hit home), do you remember the scene when he talks to his mum? If you’ve not seen it just go with it. She says “It’s like the last few years you’ve been holding your breath, you get to exhale now Simon”, and I’ve never heard such a perfect explanation of coming to terms with your sexuality. It is such a sigh of relief when you can finally be honest with the world, and happily be who you want to be. Thinking back to how much I had to worry and care what people thought saddens me, but without those restraints, I am thriving.

5) You will encounter hate, but it’s how you deal with it that matters.

After I’d come out, I actually had someone from my school shout fag**t at me out of a car window driving past. In the moment I was shocked, then I just broke down because it was the first time I had experienced up front personal hate. The fact that it exists today is heartbreaking, and in some cases it can reach physical and even life threatening hate. All we can do is continue to be ourselves. We’ve come a long way, but there is still work to be done.


6) Now on a lighter note, pride is DOPE.

Growing up seeing the LGBT+ community from the outside can give you mixed emotions. You may not want to be part of it as you’re not accustomed to your new feelings, you may feel FOMO when seeing all of the people living their best life as exactly who they were born to be. When you’re out, you get to fully embrace the LGBT+ community at its finest. I recently went to London pride, and what warmed my heart was seeing the whole of London full of people being unapologetically themselves, and nobody batting an eyelid, everyone was full of pride. So yeah, I learned that gays know how to throw a party, and not care what people think.

7) Dating can be tough.

Like it’s not even discriminating, it’s a straight up fact that it is harder to find gay people than straight people (unless you know where to look). You’ll have that “are they gay or are they straight? Dilemma. As if it’s not daunting enough going up to someone in a bar, let alone when you could have their sexuality completely wrong. But hey go for it, like I said most people don’t care, so what’s the worst that could happen? 

8) You will be able to proudly find love

Now for the best part (that I am yet to experience due to the above point). You will be able to openly and proudly find the love of your life, and show them to the world. In most places now you can get married (don’t worry if you can’t, we’re working on it and we WILL get there). You can start and raise a family with the person you are meant to be with. Now if the thought of that doesn’t warm your heart and make you want to this whole exciting side of you, I don’t know what will.

For more from Max, follow him on Instagram @max_hovey

If you have a question about sexuality, Pride, coming out, or anything else, you can reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here.

Pride month may be over, but we still cover lots of different types of LGBT+ bits and bobs all year round. We wanted to share our list of 8 key things to remember when your sibling comes out to you so that you can support them and be there for them the very best way you can. 

1) Keep it to yourself

Just because they have come out to you does not mean they are out to anyone else, including your parents. It’s important to remember that this is their coming out journey, and even though it’s great to help and support them, this is their business to tell, even if it means you have to keep it from your parents for a little while. 

2) They are still your sibling, no matter what 

It can feel like a lot to deal with when your sibling first comes out to you. The most important thing to remember is that this does not change who they are, and they are still the same sibling you have had your whole life. 

3) Remember, it matters to them 

It is really tempting to use phrases like “it doesn’t matter to me” and “it’s no big deal”. We know, and they will probably know, that this you trying to be accepting. Remember though, it matters to them enough that they wanted to sit you down and tell you this. Why not try something like “that means so much that you told me” and “I will love you no matter what”. 

4) Let them say what they need to say 

This is their time, and a huge step that they are taking. Whilst you might have opinions or things to say, let them say everything they need to first. They have probably had this conversation in their head a hundred times before actually sitting down with you, so let them get through it in their own time. 

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5) It might affect you, but the this is not the time to talk about that 

So, with the above in mind, make a bit of a mental note of the things you want to ask them and the stuff you have to say and wait for them to invite you to speak. If you have a lot, try and be supportive in the moment and hold off. Remember, this has been a huge deal for them to tell you, and they might still be getting to grips with it themselves, so they might not be able to answer all your questions. Keep them in your brain, or write them down somewhere private until you can sit down and talk about it.

6) Have a think about the plan for coming out to the rest of your family… 

If your sibling has told you before anyone else, it’s probably because they would like a bit of moral support when it comes to telling the rest of the family, especially your parents. Have a chat about what their plan is, if they have one, and work on it together. They will probably be super grateful for all the help and support. However, if they want to sit the parents down on their own and tell them, don’t push in. It can seem tempting to protect them, but you need to respect their wishes.

7) … and have a think about what you’ll do if it doesn’t go well

In an ideal world, no one would be homophobic, no one would have to come out and this would never be an issue. Unfortunately, this is not always going to be the case. If you think your parents might not react that well for whatever reason, try and have a think about what you will do. It might not be something your sibling can think about right now as it’s a pretty scary thought, but you should have a bit of an idea of how to help them, or how to talk your parents around. Read this article on coming out to homophobic parents to get a little help. 

8) Be there. 

Really, the best thing you can ever do when your sibling, or anyone else, comes out to you, is just be there for them. Let them know that they can come to you at any point during this process and that you want them to feel like they can still come to you with all the same relationship dramas and joys that maybe they used to before. 

If you have a question about sexuality, relationships, families or anything else, you can reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here, and we will listen to you.

Hi everyone! I’m Yasmin Benoit, a model and asexuality activist. I’m delighted to have the opportunity to write another article for Ditch the Label. This time I’m here to tell you how you can be the best ace ally during Pride this year – and all year round! It doesn’t take much to be an ally and make a real difference for an asexual person, or the wider asexual community. 

1) Educate yourself about asexuality

If you’re going to be an ally for asexual people, it’s important to understand what asexuality is, and what it means to be on the asexual spectrum. There loads of information online about asexuality. It might also be helpful to speak to an asexual person and ask them respectful questions, if they’re open to it. Keep in mind that there are a range of asexual experiences, which vary depending on where you are on the asexual spectrum, and what your romantic orientation is. If you want to find out more you can read about asexuality here and this article on 10 Things You Need to Know About Asexuality here

2) Don’t exclude asexual people from Pride events

Pride is supposed to be a welcoming and inclusive space for those who don’t fit into the heteronormative box, so there is definitely a place at Pride events for asexual people. Debates surrounding whether or not asexual people should be included in Pride celebrations are alienating for the community. If you want to be a good ally to asexual people, then you should support our right to celebrate who we are in an LGBT+ space, as part of the wider queer community.  

Yasmin posing in front of the asexual flag

3) Be morally supportive

There is nothing wrong or abnormal about being asexual, but pressures from our society can make asexual people feel like they’re broken. If you know someone who is coming to terms with their asexuality, listen to them and be encouraging, just as you would to someone who is coming out as gay or transgender. Don’t be dismissive of their asexuality, or think that you know more about their bodies and their minds than they do.   

4) Use inclusive language

Asexual people have a rather unique perspective of sexuality and romantic relationships. It’s important to keep that in mind with the language you use. Statements that make sex, sexual relationships and romantic love sound like a universal necessity for every human being might seem harmless, but they’re actually alienating for those who don’t feel that way. It’s important to remember that not all sexual identities or romantic relationships actively involve sex, and they don’t need to involve sex to be valid. 

Yasmin holding a pink sign saying activist

5) Include asexuality in the conversation

With Pride celebrations comes discussions around sexuality and relationships. These conversations are incomplete without an asexual perspective. Whether you’re just having a casual chat in the park or whether you’re hosting a panel in front of a hundred people, remember that asexual people exist and our experiences count. It doesn’t take much to add, “But not everyone’s interesting in that,” during a conversation, or to find an asexual writer or speaker to lend their voice on a larger platform. Anything that contributes to positive asexual visibility is helpful for the community. 

6) Do your part to spread the word

There are a range of resources online about asexuality – whether you want blog posts, journal articles, YouTube videos, fiction, or advice straight from the mouth of asexuality activists. Even if you have come to understand asexuality, there are many people out there who don’t, and this contributes to misunderstandings and stereotypes surrounding the community. Share asexual content with people you know. You might intrigue people who are eager to learn more about asexuality, as well as people who might be asexual themselves without realising it yet. 

For more from Yasmin, you can follow her Instagram here

If you have a question about sexuality, relationships, or anything else that might be bothering you, you can reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here, and we will listen to you. 

As part of Men’s Health Week 2019, influencer, model and mental health advocate Max Hovey talks about his journey with social anxiety, and gives his 4 top tips to helping you cope with it.

Did they just look at me? I don’t feel comfortable today. No clothes suit me. What if I annoy them? What if they don’t want to talk to me anymore? Am I being too needy? What if I’m not needy enough? Do I look ok? There are too many people here. Why don’t I look like them? 

Social anxiety. I’m not saying you need to have said ALL of the above to yourself to have social anxiety – don’t worry, it’s not a checklist. What I have learned over the years is that social anxiety can manifest in so many different ways, and everyone can experience it differently. I’m Max by the way, and I struggle with social anxiety. 


A few years ago, my friend told me that she did too, way before I even knew what it was. When she told me, I remember thinking to myself ‘she’s always so confident? She loves performing in front of people? She seems so confident in her appearance? She always seems so bubbly and happy to speak out?’ This can be a pretty common misconception about social anxiety – that you can’t have any confidence and don’t like public speaking or ANY form of attention. 

Over the years I have been learning a lot about myself and have realized that I have social anxiety. It’s weird, because for anyone that knows me personally or that follows my Instagram, they will probably see me as being quite confident, and happy to put myself forward publicly. I also love public speaking and talking in front of groups, and I’m also pretty confident in front of a camera (duh). 

Whilst all that is true, it doesn’t mean I don’t have anxiety. My social anxiety stems from relationships. I can be in a great place, feeling confident, happy with my appearance, career, education, and generally feeling pretty damn wonderful in my life. Then a boy comes on the scene, and holy shit everything changes. My confidence is shattered, and I end up critically judging everything, from what I say, to how I act, to what I wear. My self-esteem can just evaporate. Anxiety can be a lot to deal with, and I am still a work in progress, but I still wanted to share my tips for dealing with it. 


Max’s Top Tips for Dealing with Social Anxiety 

Am I going to wake up, be fierce and achieve everything today? OR am I going to wake up with a crushing pain in my stomach, panic in brain and just want to cry? WHO KNOWS! My point is that no one should stereotype or stigmatize social anxiety. Everyone experiences it differently, everyone has good and bad days, and everyone copes with it differently. Here are a few things you could try to try to take the edge off. 

1) Be kind

We have no idea what a person may be going through. Give them that compliment, boost their mood, make someone smile for NO reason at all other than the fact that you can.

2) Talk to someone

Like I said, we have no idea what someone is going through, and that includes you. We can give you compliments; we can try and boost your mood and make you smile, but sometimes what can really help is allowing us to understand how you’re truly feeling. So, open up to someone you can trust, believe me, it helps.

3) Try a thought diary

Literally type CBT thought diary into an app store and you’re bound to find it. It’s a great way of writing down what’s going through your head, and training your brain to spot your irrational thoughts, and turn them into something positive before you get carried away. I’ve tried it and believe me it works.

4) BREATHE

Like you’d think it’d be obvious but you have no idea the impact that it can have. Focusing on your breath brings you into the present, as we know anxiety is normally worrying about something that has not and may not even happen, so just taking a moment to breath can help you distance yourself from those thoughts. It can also calm your physical symptoms too, bringing your heartbeat back to normal, and halting that feeling of panic.

I’m not saying this is necessarily going to work for you. Sometimes these techniques don’t work for me, so I try something else. But the main thing is to practice, keep trying the same and new methods. Things will not get better over the night, but one thing is certain – they will get better. 

For more from Max, check out his Instagram @max_hovey

If you are struggling with anxiety, or have anything else going on that you want to talk about, you can reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here.