(trans)cEND hate

Transcend HateImage copyright: Kage Coven. May not be reproduced or used without permission.

I am about to do something I will rarely, if ever, do in the future. I tell you this because I want you all to understand how important this must be to me. I am not typically the fundraising type, at least not for individuals. But I am making an exception this time.

I recently met an amazing man. He is motivated, organized, ambitious, caring. Just a remarkable human being. He spends a good portion of his free time running a support group for trans people. When he isn’t doing that he is working his ass off at his full time job and picking up extra shifts any chance he gets. He saves every extra penny he has for top surgery. He has his surgery scheduled and has been making payments over time. The deadline is approaching quickly however, and no matter how hard he works, he just can’t quite save enough. He is trying, as hard as he can but he needs a little help. He has a GoFundMe page, in an effort to possibly gather the last bit of funds, and even then, he isn’t asking for a hand out. Every donation $3 or greater gets you something in return. $20 gets you a T-shirt (pictured above) and there are various other items. I have never met anyone who worked so hard to achieve his goals, and not just this particular goal. I think what strikes me the most, and why I feel motivated to help, is that he isn’t asking for charity. He doesn’t want people to just give him money, he wants to earn it in some way. That is deserving of my respect and help. So I ask you all, donate if you can. If you can’t spare a buck, spare a few seconds to share his link or re-blog this post. I know not a lot of people read my blog, but it the few of you who do share this, then we might just be able to help someone truly deserving fulfill his dream.

http://www.gofundme.com/freekage

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Defend yourself, go to jail.

I recently learned about a young black (in this case, race does play a role) FTM that is currently serving a 20 year sentence in a Georgia prison after defending himself, and unfortunately (or fortunately…) killing a man who was raping him. There is a lot to this story, more than I can write about, but attention desperately needs to drawn to this case. Ky does not deserve this punishment, he does not deserve the treatment he has received by law enforcement, the courts, and his own public defender. This is so much more than a story about a transman in prison. It is a story about the treatment of people of color in this country. It’s a story about the abuse trans people suffer. It’s a story about misogyny and the horrifying belief that men or masculine presenting individuals cannot be victims of abuse. It’s a story about all of us, and why we need to stand up and fight against these injustices! I implore you all, please read about Ky, please stand up and speak out against this abuse and oppression. We cannot let things like this continue to happen to our fellow human beings.

You can read Ky’s story here

You can show Ky some love and support through the letter writing campaign Love Letters To Ky, just be sure to follow the rules. This young man needs our support. Let’s show him what our community is capable of!

I Walk Because

I walk as a proud transman in honor of our community’s lost bothers and sisters. A community with an estimated 41% suicide rate. 

I walk as survivor of depression and suicidal ideation.

I walk in support of all those struggling with depression and mental illness.

I walk in solidarity with those who have suffered a loss to suicide.

I walk because every life matters and no one should ever feel lost and alone.

I walk because I love you. 

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention does amazing work. I encourage you to participate in one of their many walks, or donate to my fundraising efforts for this vital organization.

My fundraising page can be found here

My New “Privilege”

Before I transitioned, before I passed as male at all, I kept hearing this term that I didn’t quite understand. “Male privilege” was thrown around from time to time but I was in my early 20s, I was struggling with my own issues of self identity, and I never really considered the idea. I thought “well, I’m male and I damn sure didn’t have any ‘male privilege’ right?!” Of course I didn’t, I wasn’t perceived as male. But I didn’t think about that, I spent years trying not to think about that actually… But now, now that I pass and I’m seen as nothing other than a chubby white guy, things are extremely different. Extremely. I couldn’t possibly name everything that happens to me now, I can’t even remember all the times I have been treated differently as a man. But the big ones stand out in my memory. They anger me. I am the same person I was years ago. I’ve grown up a bit, sure. But I am still me. The only thing that has changed is the world’s perceptions of my genitals and apparently that entitles me to better treatment. So let’s talk about my experiences, both with male privilege and the downside of being seen as male (and yes, there is absolutely a downside!)

1. People address me, not my girlfriend.

At least 90% of the time, when I am out with my girlfriend, public service employees (and random strangers) will only interact with me. We walk into a restaurant and it’s always “how can I help you sir?” or some other statement directed at me. My girlfriend is rarely acknowledged. In the two years I have been with her, only 2 cashiers have given her the change/receipt when paying. When she pays for groceries (or whatever we happen to be buying) the cashier almost always says “have a good day/evening sir” and tries to hand me the change. I always step back and point at her silently until they give her the change. Apparently, as a man I am entitled to control my money, and her money. Hell, half the time she doesn’t even seem to exist. If we are together, people won’t even bother to look at her at all. It’s not just men that do this, it’s women to. Everyone turns to me, the “big strong man” for payment, for decisions, for plans…. It’s clear that you can only make decisions and handle your life if you are capable of growing a beard and appear to have a penis. Those that have been cursed with a vagina are obviously incapable of doing anything and should probably be classified as disabled….

2. Professors pay more attention to me and show more respect.

I’ve been going to college for a few to many years, I’m taking the scenic route… But that’s irrelevant. What I have noticed over the years is that male students seem to be taken more seriously. When I started out, I was seen as a woman. I was typically quiet in classes and nothing was ever directed at me so I just sat there listening. I am still quiet, but teachers make an effort to involve me. When I speak, I am treated with respect (usually…) and teachers act as if I am suddenly very intelligent (I’m reasonably smart, but that didn’t happen because I transitioned…) In the past, teachers would talk over me, ignore me completely, tell me I was incorrect without explaining why, and have this way of making me feel like an inconvenience. Other students would ignore me, or assume I had incorrect information. Not anymore though. A perfect example is something that happened in a philosophy class recently. We were put into groups. My group consisted of 3 guys and 2 women. We had to discuss these random statements given to us and determine if they were sound/valid arguments. I understood the concept completely and had no trouble with the exercise. The other two men in the group were a bit lost but one of them insisted he was right. One of the women in the group was in agreement with me and tried to explain why the guy was wrong. He ignored her, brushed her off. Then I spoke up, told him he was wrong, explained exactly what the woman was telling him and he suddenly changed his mind “oh… I see now! You’re right!” I said exactly what the woman said but I did so while wearing a beard and not having breasts so I guess that makes me the smarter one… I am truly disturbed by this. Men and women alike listen to me more, assume I am correct (even if I am totally wrong!). We should all be very concerned by this….

3. Video game stores.

I play video games. I don’t consider myself a hardcore gamer and it’s not a huge part of my daily conversations but I do play quite a bit. Ever since I got my hands on Heroes Quest as kid, I’ve been playing. While all the girls were asking for barbies, makeup, and other stereotypical “girly” things, I was begging for a new computer and a super Nintendo. I heard a lot of comments about video games being for boys and how I should try putting on some makeup, I might just like it. I did not like it. At all. As an adult, I still play games and I probably will until I am too crippled with arthritis to hold a controller or use a keyboard. When I was still perceived as female, walking into a video game store was almost terrifying. I always felt awkward and out of place. The male employees always seemed to talk slower, use smaller words, and point me to simple uninteresting games. It was like my vagina just couldn’t handle a “real” game. As though it would somehow interfere with my ability to play a game if there were any amount of violence or tension in it. I’m not entirely sure how all girls play video games, but I have never seen one use their labia to press buttons on the controller. Every gamer girl I have ever encountered used their hands and brain just like all the guys I have met. So why is it that I find game stores far more welcoming now that I am seen as male? I walk in and there is always an employee coming up to me to talk about current sales, new games, and various other things. When I ask “can you recommend a game similar to [random game]” I don’t get treated like a silly child who doesn’t know any better. I get asked questions like “what aspects did you like most about that game?” “have you tried [random game]” or “did you know they are making another [original random game]!” I get treated with respect and the guys look at me like I know what I am doing and what I like to play. Nothing has changed, I ask the same questions, I speak the same, I act the same. Again, the only difference is my perceived genitals. I had no idea breasts could interfere so badly with video game play….

This is just a few examples of the privilege extended to me now. The problem is, I hate it. Don’t get me wrong, I very much appreciate being taken seriously but I am disgusted that it happens now because the world assumes I have a penis. I hate that my girlfriend gets completely disregarded as a human being because I’m “the man” and she’s a girl. It is devastating to know that she will be taken less seriously than me when in reality she probably has more valid things to say than I do….it needs to change.

So, about the downside I mentioned above. There are things I have encountered over my years as a man that were never an issue when I was seen as female. Things that make life a little less joyful, things that make me feel like I am horrible just because I am a man. There is no doubt that male privilege exists, I have experienced it and only a fool would deny it. The thing is, I never asked for it and neither did most guys. It’s just given to us. By everyone. Including women. Often the very same women that get angry about the very idea of male privilege. Parents seem to instill the concept in their children and then tell little girls that men are horrible monsters that only want sex and should be feared at all times. And this is where the shitty part of being male comes in….

1. Compliments are not allowed.

As a man I am not allowed to compliment a woman. Oh, I can do it but that instantly means one of three things. I am hitting on her, I am a sexual predator, or I am gay. I see women all the time that I’d like to say something nice to (I like your hair, your glass are cool, that’s a great shirt, what perfume is that? It smells nice….) but I am not allowed to without having other motives. The fact is, I am in a happy, loving relationship and I just want to be able to say “hey, that outfit looks awesome!” without being seen as a threat. I never had to worry about this when the world thought I was female. I could compliment anyone I wanted and it was typically taken at face value. Women want to know why guys don’t notice their new haircut or dress. It’s because we are not allowed to. You have been told that we are all predators and because of that we cannot be truly nice. It’s unfortunate really because I have a lot of nice things I’d like to say to strangers but they will never know that a random person thought of them in a positive light that day. As much as boys need to be raised in a way to not promote rape culture and misogyny, girls need to be raised to not view every single man as a threat. Then maybe I can tell that girl at school that even though she seems sad some days, she is still beautiful and her hair makes me smile. But right now… I’m not allowed to.

2. I am not to be trusted with kids.

Kids love me. They always have, especially babies. I have no explanation for it at all. Babies stare intently at me, toddlers always seem to gravitate to me, older kids always seem to want to hang out with me. My girlfriend has witnessed this on numerous occasions. In line at a grocery store and the kid in front of us is staring with a big bright smile. She commented on it a lot at first and now she just chuckles, shakes her head and says “what IS it with you and kids…”

I also love kids. I don’t particularly want my own kids, I’m not responsible enough to have another life depending on me and I’m too selfish in my personal life to be a parent. But I love kids. I love playing with them, teaching them, being there to support them. I’ve been a part of raising many kids. I’ve changed diapers, cleaned up vomit, gone to school plays, listened to crying over their first heartbreak, and cooked “the special flat eggs with the yellow in the center” upon request.

But most of that was before I transitioned. Before I was seen as a guy. Now… It’s just not the same. When I smile at a baby in the grocery store, I get strange looks from parents. When I wave at a little girl who is waving at me on the street her parents pull her as far from me as possible and pick up their pace. I am not allowed to interact with kids at all anymore. Apparently the perception of my genitals makes me dangerous to children. So I don’t do much smiling or waving at kids anymore, I don’t get to see a lot of smiles back either now. I have to keep myself distanced for fear of being accused of some perversion or other. I use to wonder why most guys didn’t seem interested in playing with kids and having them in their life. I don’t wonder anymore… We aren’t allowed to.

3. I am not “manly” enough or I am “acting” too much like a guy.

I can’t find the middle ground on this one. I am not a “macho” guy. I’m short, chubby, soft, and weak. I love cats and kids, I’d rather watch a romantic comedy than a football game, I like computers more than cars… I’m a nerd, I’m passive and mellow most of the time. I am told this makes me a “sissy boy” (I have actually been called that) I’m told I need to “man up” and do more guy stuff because I am not violent or aggressive, I don’t enjoy sports, and I can’t do much more than change my oil. Most of the time it’s other men that say this crap to me. Trying to enforce some ridiculous archaic stereotype of what men should be. This is what they were taught growing up, this is the message parents have instilled in their sons.

Women on the other hand have a habit of telling me not to be “such a guy” when I don’t get emotional over something sad, or I try to use logic in an emotional situation. I have never been super emotional, movies don’t turn on my tears and sad stories aren’t going to overwhelm me in most cases. That doesn’t mean I don’t have feelings, I just process things differently than you might. If you come to me with a problem, I will try to talk it out logically with you. If you just want someone to shut up and let you be sad then I’m not the person you want to talk to. I’ve always been this way, but now that I am seen as male, it’s suddenly a problem and I am too much like a man. As if I should feel bad for being a guy, as though my gender is inherently wrong. “Ugh… You’re such a guy!” Why is that a bad thing? I can’t win in this gender war. I’m either a predatory male who is out to hurt women and children or I am a weak pathetic boy who doesn’t know how to be a man… It hurts sometimes when this is coming from all angles.

Maybe one day male privilege will be gone, but not until people stop handing it out. And maybe one day my gender will not instantly make me a horrible person, but not until we stop telling boys how to be boys and girls to watch out for the big bad men… Society is just one big ball of gender stereotypes and misogyny. I hope I live long enough to see it change.

Admit You Could Be Wrong

I spend a lot of time thinking about my beliefs and opinions. I am constantly listening to or reading what other people have to say and redefining myself if I hear something that changes my mind. I am open to learning and willing to admit when I have held an invalid belief. This happened to me today in fact. And I think it’s an important thing for me to recognize, discuss, and apologize for.

I have often, in jest, referred to myself as a “tranny”. I have referred to my friends the same way on occasion (never without them being Ok with it, I’m not a complete asshole!) And recently I’ve found that a lot of people hate the word. “Tranny” is offensive to damn near everyone I encounter in the Trans* community these days. I really had no idea that it was seen as a slur presently. I thought it had come the same way as “queer” and I felt like reclaiming it for myself. I’ve stopped using the word around most people now but I’ve also spent the past few months thinking everyone was being overly sensitive and that freaking out over something so trivial was ridiculous… until today. There was a discussion about various Trans* related terms and what everyone thought about them. “Tranny” inevitably came up and I thought “oh god… Here we go, people are going to get overly offended.” But I kept my mouth shut and listened because I didn’t have anything of value to say. And then, someone presented an argument that struck me hard.

“… The problem is, if someone like (name excluded) is taking the word “tranny” which we know is used against trans WOMEN, he shouldn’t be doing that. It’s wrong. That’s a word that a lot of trans women here before being assaulted, raped and even murdered. Its a very serious thing…. ”

One small paragraph, worded in a way that I hadn’t seen before and I finally realized where my former thinking had been wrong, about many things. I have heard before that “Tranny” is offensive but the best anyone could ever say when questioned about WHY it’s offensive is something similar to “it’s misogynistic, you’re a misogynist for using it, it’s hate speech, why are you so transphobic?!” I was lucky enough to know better than to use the word in a situation that would earn me that response, but I saw many people get slapped down with words very similar to that. It’s hardly a sound argument against the word, it’s just an attack. But finally, someone with a level head comes along and explains why it’s considered bad. I had never considered that it is, in fact, what a lot of us hear right before violence is perpetrated against us, Transwoman specifically. The word doesn’t have negative connotations to me, but it does for a lot of people and for very valid reasons. As a human being, I need to strive to speak in a manner that is non-offensive to others. The way the word makes me feel is irrelevant if it hurts someone else. I hadn’t quite realized that fully. I certainly wasn’t going around trying to offend people, I try very hard to be a decent person, but looking back I probably have caused some harm with my words, even if unintentionally. I cannot know who I may have hurt or offended, but I can publicly apologize (well, as public as this blog actually is… Which isn’t very much at this point.) And with that, I am truly sorry.

Hopefully there is something more to be learned from my revelation than just “don’t use the word tranny.” There is something equally important I hope to set an example for. Open-mindedness. We are often so quick to defend our thoughts and opinions that we refuse to listen to what anyone else has to say. We never want to say “oh shit… I was wrong and I’m sorry” because it’s so much easier to ignore everyone else and think we always have the right answer. I’m certainly guilty of that in the past, and I see it happen every day. But look what an open mind, a willingness to listen, whether we agree or not, and the ability to apologize can do. We need to learn, and be willing to change our opinions as needed when new information is presented. Popular opinion used to be that the world was flat, can you imagine if no one was willing to listen to the theories of a round planet? It may have gone against their beliefs, but people listened. It’s scary to think people seem less willing hear someone out now than in the 6th century BC.

Being open to listening to the opinions of others is only half the battle though. You also need to be someone worth listening to. Screaming and yelling rarely do any good, accusatory tones and statements make people believe you are not worth listening to. If you have an opinion, get some supporting evidence for your statements, be prepared to explain your stance, to educate people in a civil way. Don’t tell people they are wrong, show them they are wrong by proving you are right. If we leave the house tomorrow prepared to listen, learn, and educate in a civil and respectful manner, a lot of good could happen. And from now on, I want to see more good happening. I need to see it.

This blog is going to be developing into something much more broad than I had originally planned. There are a lot of things that I feel the need to ramble about but they are not always Trans* related. So, I won’t be limiting my posting to only Trans* topics, and I welcome ideas and questions about past and future writings I may have. I’d like to eventually do a monthly (or weekly if there are enough responses) Q&A. I will answer EVERY question sent to me (unless I get thousands… That’s not very likely, but I couldn’t answer them all at that point) so send in your questions about me, my blog, a topic I’ve written about, a topic you’d like me to write about, anything Trans* related, whatever you’d like. And I will post them with answers as soon as I have enough to make a decent post.

Are You A Transphobic Ally?

I’ve been contemplating transphobia. What is it exactly? Why is it so prevalent? How do we stop it? I have spent countless hours pondering these questions and I fight with my own flawed brain to define transphobia and all that goes along with it. Then I stumbled across a Facebook post from Ms. Santa Clara County Leather 2014  that gave me a great starting point for explaining transphobia. The following is an excerpt from her post (completely unedited, just removed a bit at the beginning and the end) that demonstrates things that are transphobic and goes on to show the ridiculousness of the same logic in other circumstances.

– “I’m a lesbian, I only fuck women” but won’t fuck trans women or will fuck trans men. Congrats, you’re a transphobe.

– “I’m gay, I only fuck men” but won’t fuck trans men or will fuck trans women. Congrats, you’re a transphobe.

– “I’m straight, I only fuck women with vaginas” but won’t fuck post-op trans women. Congrats, you’re a transphobe.

– “I’m straight, I only fuck men with cocks” but won’t fuck trans men post-surgery or hormones. Congrats, you’re a transphobe.

– “I only fuck partners with vaginas” but won’t fuck trans men and post-op trans women. Congrats, you’re a transphobe.

– “I only fuck partners with cocks” but won’t fuck pre- or non-op trans women and trans men. Congrats, you’re a transphobe.

– “I only fuck partners with breasts and a vagina” but won’t fuck post-op trans women and trans men who haven’t had top surgery. Congrats, you’re a transphobe.

This kind of thing looks so ridiculous in any other situation:

– “But you look so white, how was I to know one of your parents was black. Don’t you think this is the kind of thing you should tell me before we have sex? You tricked me!”

– “But I thought your DD breasts were REAL, I didn’t know you’d had surgery to make them look like that! Don’t you think this is the kind of thing you should tell me before we have sex? You trapped me!”

– “But you’re so educated and eloquent, I thought you’d been raised upper class! Why didn’t you tell me you were born blue-collar? Don’t you think this is the kind of thing you should tell me before we have sex? You lied to me!”

– “But you’re Jewish? I thought you were really Christian! Don’t you think this is the kind of thing you should tell me before we have sex? You’re keeping secrets from me!”

If you insist trans people are obligated to disclose because you’d be “uncomfortable” having a relationship or having sex with them–but you would totally bang them if they were cis–you are transphobic. Transphobes are not allys.

“You can do your thing, go, all power to you, pee where you want, marry who you want, just don’t get your trans cooties anywhere near my junk” is not support. It’s justification you use to make yourself feel better for not being bigoted, but it’s a giant lie. It’s transphobia and nothing more.”

 

She summed it up pretty damn well and I’m not sure what more I can say to define transphobia. I don’t even feel I need to add anything. It’s perfectly acceptable to say “I’m only attracted to vaginas” and not want to date a pre-op MTF. It’s still a little close-minded but people do have preferences and I respect that. But if you like penis (note that I said penis and NOT men, it’s an important distinction) and won’t date a post-op FTM, then go fuck yourself.

As Ms. Santa Clara County Leather 2014 stated, a part of her writing not included above, the most common form of transphobia is not the violence or other “newsworthy” bigotry perpetuated against Trans* people. It’s these little things. These simple “I only fuck real men” comments. People saying “I support Trans* rights” and then turning around to say “you still have a penis and I only date women.” it’s bullshit. Own your preference, you only like vaginas, fantastic. But don’t imply that a Trans* man isn’t a man or a Trans* woman is not a woman.

So now that we have a basic understanding of transphobia, why does it happen? I’m going to have to bypass the major hate crimes, the beatings, the murders, the rapes, because I honestly cannot fathom why anyone could be so fucked up in the head as to think my gender identity is a reason to commit acts of violence against me. I just can’t wrap my head around it at all. So I can’t really gather enough coherent thoughts to make a valid statement that isn’t overly emotional regarding why it happens.

I have friends that identify as lesbian but will happily date a pre-op FTM, all while saying they don’t date men. While that is indeed transphobia, these people are not inherently transphobic. I think the problem is with all the labels we apply to ourselves and others. You can’t exactly be a lesbian and date FTMs and not sound like an asshole, but what can you call yourself if you are attracted only to people without a penis? There is no label for that. I’m not always a big fan of labels to begin with but let’s face it, society runs on labels. It’s a way to align yourself with people of similar interests or backgrounds and that’s not necessarily bad. We have people calling themselves nerds, queer, straight, sapeosexual, emo, goth… And a million other things. It’s all just labels to describe something about yourself and to let others know you may have things in common. People get upset over labels and I’ve seen some pretty big reactions over something so small but I often agree with these people, we don’t need labels at all. Human is a good enough term to describe me. At the same time, some people love their labels and I can respect that too because I very much identify as Trans*. We either need to get rid of all the labels or add more, that are inclusive of all areas of life. Where do you fit if you only date people with penises including non-op/pre-op MTFs? If you are a man, you really only have “gay”  and that completely alienates the MTFs you might date. So either drop the gay label or make a new one for yourself. This is why labels hurt us, all of us. Regardless of whether that label is gay, Trans*, or nerd. There is more to each person than what a label can define. Don’t get so caught up over your identity as a lesbian that you essentially call any FTM you date a woman. If you would date a FTM, you are NOT a lesbian. It’s that simple.

Then there are transphobic remarks like “until you have surgery, you’re not really a man/woman. But I totally support you!” I’ve witnessed this come from people who truly meant no disrespect, but there it is slapping you in the face. I feel like this comes from an utter lack of understanding of the difference between gender and sex. It’s a very transphobic thing to say and should not be excused but I don’t think it always comes from a negative place. If you define gender by genitals, the way society seems to be taught, then trying to understand that I am a man with a vagina will be difficult for you. What needs to be understood is that gender is an identity, another label we wear. Gender is not physical characteristics. Penis and vagina should not be associated with male and female because anyone can have any combination of gender and sex. So, I may not have a penis but I am damn sure a man. You don’t get to decide what does and doesn’t make someone a particular gender. You only get to decide your own gender and whether you want to be a dick to other people about their personal identity.

Now, how the hell do we stop transphobia? Again, I’m referring to the non-violent, non-physical here. My heart just can’t understand that stuff…

Ending this type of transphobia is really quite simple but no one really believes me or wants to put in the work and be open…sadly that will only make the process of Trans* acceptance longer and harder. Here it is folks, are you ready?

1. If you are Trans*, educate. Educate everyone you can and be an example of “normalcy”

2. If you are not Trans*, learn. Listen, ask (respectfully) and stop trying to dictate how anyone else lives their life.

3. Problem solved.

It’s unfortunate that, as humans, we are often not willing to educate or learn about topics that make us uncomfortable. I am equally guilty of this on occasion. We need to start reaching outside of our comfort zone and be more open to what the world has to offer us.

Please visit and support the Ms. Santa Clara County Leather 2014 Facebook page. She is a great example of what an ally should be. Regardless of your opinions of the leather scene, show her some love for all the support and her willingness to allow me to quote her.

Give Me Two Days

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) redwynstorm@gmail.com 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.