Thursday, March 26, 2015

Tragedy: Suicides of Young Trans People

I read a post by Monica Roberts of a third young trans person of color, Blake Brockington, who had taken his life this year. I shared here post and in the conversation, I shared these words that came pouring out from within. After I was done, it seemed I needed to blog about it as well.

Trans acceptance is not a national trait it seems. So here's the thing. Many if not most of us know we are not comfortable as the gender we were told at a very early age. I knew at age 3 (though we had no name for it) but in most families there is no way to deal with something like that. So we learn to stuff it and ignore it, and in some cases over excel in the gender we've been told we were as we try to run from something we've been told repeatedly is terribly wrong.

What then does that mean? An early life lived dishonestly, a huge amount of confusion and often intense separation and loneliness because people instinctively know when you are not being "real."

So comes the day you come to face yourself and decide to be true to that self. People you were close to feel betrayed by what they perceive as your dishonesty. Some, myself included lose families, friends etc. I was lucky. I got to keep the job I had, though I caught no small amount of crap in the workplace. You learn early on that there are some people who fear you so much they will attack and even kill you. Institutions including certain churches, and cities, states etc create roadblocks to stand in your way. There is no lengths deep enough or depraved enough that some will not go to express their discomfort with your very existence. The streets are filled with trans kids kicked out of their homes, sometimes forced into sex work or begging just to survive. But even if you are lucky enough to get to keep a roof over your head, I cannot understate the level of pain that lies ahead.

Some seem to do okay for awhile, but may then suddenly encounter a barrage of hate they simply are not equipped to deal with. I know and have written about people who reached that place where death seemed the only true way out.

You know, I'm reminded of something that happened with me when Robin and I were getting married. Houston Hate Radio devoted two full hours to "discussing" the two of us, providing an open forum for those with hearts filled with hate to call in and trash us and our lives together. You know, I was older and better equipped to face this kind of hate. Plus wise enough to know better than to listen to the barrage of negativity over the air. There's a pain that never really goes away that people can muster so much hate for being who I am. On our wedding day we had protesters as well. How is a kid in high school or even college supposed to negotiate such an emotional mine field? Besides age, I had a community to fall back on. People who would listen and understand. That simply is not the case everywhere. Now there's social media to serve as another means to bully.

I weep for these young trans souls. I weep for the lives they will not be able to live. I also weep because I know I came perilously close at one point of being one of those statistics, and why I did not pull the trigger is still one of the great mysteries. We can't change the world, but I do think that each of us, myself leading the charge, can make ourselves an instrument of love, of compassion. If enough of us do so, just maybe we really can change the world.The constant loss of lives, whether by suicide or murder, simply must end.

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