Suicide. It’s a common topic amongst Trans* individuals. So far, in the first 2 months of 2015 we have lost 4 of our brothers and sisters to suicide. And those are just the ones that receive any amount of publicity. It’s probably safe to say that there have been many more this year already. This is a topic that weighs heavily on my mind because I have been in that place. The place where death seems like the only escape. I had just ended a 10 year relationship, I was left homeless, with no car, no possessions, nothing but my monthly disability checks and my cat. I had to move back to my home town, away from all of my friends that had only known me as male. I found a room for rent in a house with a guy I didn’t know and I was terrified that I could be entering into an unsafe environment. I had been with my ex for 10 years, we met when I was 20 and I essentially grew up with her through our relationship. I had no focus, I felt like my transition was going far too slow, I would never be able to get top surgery. I had no idea how to be alone, how to care for myself without the support of another person. I was lost. Completely. While the relationship we had was remarkably unhealthy in many ways, we didn’t know anything else. So… I had a cat, a computer, and a new unknown place to live. I didn’t even own a bed or desk so I spent my first two months living on the floor of my bedroom. I was lucky enough to find that my new roommate was an amazing guy. Absolutely supportive of my transition, educated, motivated and kind. But I still felt utterly alone. My cat felt the loss too. He would stand at the bedroom door for an hour each night waiting for his other human to come to bed with me. It only made my pain even harder. After about a month he finally understood that it was just him and me now, but I still didn’t fully understand the gravity of the situation. Each day I sank farther and farther into a seemingly bottomless depression. I reached out to old friends, but most had turned their back on me without explanation, so my support system consisted of my mother, who resided 400 miles away. How could she possibly help me? So I started considering suicide as an option. I have extreme anxiety, depression, agoraphobia, panic disorder, and several related issues. I had never been alone, I had never had to stand up on my own feet and face anything head on (part of that unhealthy relationship I mentioned previously) and I truly believed that I was completely incapable of doing so. I couldn’t imagine a life for myself in the future. Who would ever love me? How would I ever be seen as the man I really am? How could I keep going? I wanted to die. More than anything else, I wanted to cease to exist. I had to consider everything though. I had a cat, a special needs cat in fact. He was deaf, and as a result had no idea how loud he was. I was the only person who had ever been able to tolerate it because aside from the yowling, he was the greatest therapy pet ever known in this world. He had become my only reason for existing. On a particularly bad day, I looked at him, screaming at the door trying to get me back in the house and I realized that if I were to end my life, I’d have to take him with me. That thought, the thought of killing my best friend, knocked me to my lowest point ever. I sat outside, chain smoking, trying to figure out if I could end his life and how. And then how I would end my own. I sat there sobbing trying to process everything running through my head when my phone rang. I answered, and immediately recognized the voice on the other end. An FTM friend from out of town was calling to let me know he was in town and wanted to meet up. I composed myself and invited him over. When he arrived, I found out the reason he was in town. A week prior, he had tried to end his own life and was released into the custody of his sister, who lived near me. I didn’t tell him of my suicidal thoughts, but I didn’t have to. He looked at me for a few minutes and said “dude, somethings not right with you. I’m not gonna ask for the details, but you need to get some help. I am attending a day program and it’s really helping. I’m coming back on Monday and taking you down there. Just check it out, please.” I knew he was right. I had just considered killing my cat to spare him a life without my love…thats so much more than a red flag. So, I took his advice and checked into an outpatient program. That is probably the only reason I am still here. And I am so grateful that I am.
This is the problem. We are often surrounded by people who have no idea what it’s like to feel that hopelessness. We have become so good at hiding our identities that we are masterful at hiding all of the negative emotions associated with being Trans*, it’s just how we deal with things. When we don’t have people we trust, people we let truly know us, we have no real support system and we don’t have those people in our lives that just know when we are in trouble. People overlook the signs we do let out. Its so easy to think “oh, they’re just having a bad day.” I am probably guilty of this myself. This is why it’s incredibly important for us to reach out when we are in trouble. I know it feels hopeless sometimes and asking for help seems counterproductive to your plan for suicide, but there is something each one of you need to understand. You are important. I need each and every Trans* person on earth. I need you. We need you. How is it possible that I could care about you? I don’t even know you right?! Well, in some way, I was you. I was that depressed, hopeless, suicidal Trans* person. But I got help, and I am still here fighting. Since those days of wanting to die, let me tell you what I have accomplished (and I swear I don’t mean this arrogantly). I have gone back to college, and while it’s taking me far longer than someone without depression and anxiety, I’m doing it. I have helped 3 people personally transition and I’ve been told I saved their lives, I have met a beautiful woman and been with her for 2 years. I avidly fight against bigotry and misogyny. I have watched my friends and their children grow and I’ve been able to be a positive Trans* role model. My life is far from perfect, I still have my share of problems, but look at all the good one human is capable of. Now imagine the good we could do together! The more Trans* people we have to join forces, the more good we can do. Without you, we are one less, we are missing a piece of our collective soul and our fight gets harder. I know some days are horrible, nearly impossible to deal with, but when that little voice in your head tells you that you can’t stand it any longer remind yourself of this very important fact (in the words of very wise therapist) you have been standing it all your life. You can stand it. It will not be this way for ever and you are in a position to help change the world. But you have to be alive to see the future. We need you. I need you. I can’t keep fighting alone. Please don’t leave us.
If anyone takes anything away from this post, let it be this… I love you, all of you. Regardless of gender, identity, race, orientation. I love you, and I need you.
If you are in need of help, a person to talk to, advice, help finding mental health services, or you just have questions….Please email me and I will help however I can (be advised that I am not therapist or medical professional of any sort) firstname.lastname@example.org or post a comment. If you are planning to kill yourself, I ask you one favor. Wait. Contact me (or someone you trust) and wait 48 hours. Give it two full days while seeking someone to talk to. You’ve been waiting this long right? Give me 2 days to change your mind. I am living proof that Trans* people can be who they want to be. They can be successful adults, and do great things… Give me 2 days.