Sunday, April 28, 2013
Ch 5: Suicide Statistics and the Hardships faced by the Trans Community
Good afternoon, evening, morning,
So, I have left you with a lot to think about after yesterday. Today I will give you some statistics to back up my own personal experience. "There is no group with a higher suicide rate then the transgendered. It stands at 31%. In a survey of our users here 50% of Transsexuals have had at least one suicide attempt by their 20th birthday. Many have had multiple attempts from ages as young as 7. In the UK a ten year old transgender child committed suicide. This means that transgender teens are the most vulnerable. Often Puberty can plunge them into a nightmare they may never wake up from. Followed by being forced to live someone else's life, homo or Transphobic Parents often don't get Transgendered children the therapy they need early enough. It is often dismissed as just a phase, (http://www.lauras-playground.com/transgender_suicide.htm).
I will let you know any transgendered members, family or friends of who are struggling with issues Laura's Playground is a good place to ask questions attend online support group meetings etc.
A second source of similar information to give credibility to the information: "Ninety percent of transgender and gender nonconforming people report harassment, discrimination and mistreatment on the job, and the injustices they face have devastating economic and personal consequences, according to a new survey. A 'staggering' 41 percent of the more than 6,400 respondents said they had attempted suicide, compared to a rate of 1.6 percent for the general population, according to the survey (PDF) by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality," (http://www.thetaskforce.org/static_html/downloads/reports/reports/ntds_full.pdf).
So at least half our population has attempted suicide at one point or another and about a third succeed. I'm not going to lie and say that being transgendered is easy, but perhaps we don't hear a lot of the 'success' stories because after transition many individuals whether male to female or female to male are simply referred to as their current gender after transition. So the ultimate goal is not to be transitioning anymore and to be considered female by all of society. The problem period is the transition itself as many of us are not considered 'passable' until we have had extensive surgery, hair removal and other procedures done. Yet at the same time society and the current rules, with good reason I might add require transgendered or gender dysphoric individuals to do a year in the life of trial before major surgery can be completed.
This year, is the period in when a lot of discrimination, hurtful words and in rare instances rape and hate crimes can occur. The rape situation brings us to an interesting discussion about bathroom use. Now for employers the simplest answer is to have single occupancy use facilities that allow for either gender to use the rest-room. But in public rest rooms if a transitioning individual is forced to use male bathrooms they are put in a situation that they are likely to get ridiculed, people will likely know exactly what they are and if seen again who they are based on the history of this given experience. On the other hand the argument against allowing transitioning individuals to use the female bathroom is that parents and females don't want 'perverts' peeking through the stalls and cross-dressing just to be able to have access to the female bathrooms. So how do we determine the difference, well the common policies currently are that the transitioning individuals as identifying as female should use the female restrooms, the other employees who may have an issue with it may be able to use a bathroom on another floor of a building etc. Either way it is highly unlikely that a rapist is going to go through the trouble of dressing up to gain access to the women's bathroom. Rape is a crime and treated as such, and those individuals who do such heinous acts are punished accordingly, also it is just as likely for a lesbian to be peeking through the stall cracks or doing some inappropriate activity as it is for a cross-dresser who is pretending to transition. But no one would deny the rights of a female lesbian because of her sexual preference on which bathroom she should use.
In a separate discussion many employers and some public spaces are starting to go to a one bathroom facility, which may have multiple toilets but is used by both genders.
So now that we know the information and situations that are high risk, current groups are working towards ways to make the bathroom issue safer for everyone involved. As gay and lesbian individuals have moved more and more to 'main-stream,' the current movements for equal rights and marriage that is being fought over can be compared to the women's rights movement. Gender Dysphoria, Transgenderism and many of the other varying degrees are still not widely understood. So, here we are, the forefront of the grounds for the next movement. We don't have the same issues surrounding marriage, because in most states the marriage certificate is issued with your current gender, so i.e. as a male I married my wife, so our marriage is legal and certified by the IRS and the country of the United States of America. Now if I transition as I am currently after our marriage, well our marriage is still legal because we got married before I transitioned. Guess it's a loophole, but on the other hand if I was considered 'gay' as a guy who was attracted to other guys, after transition I would be a female and allowed to marry a male and there would be no issues.
Interesting enough though Transgender individuals are not allowed to serve in the military, and there are a number of other ways beyond that where our rights are different than anyone else in the country. So, the whole point of this argument is that we are all people, we all live different lives, as long as we aren't hurting anyone then we should all have equal rights under the law. Now that said, as a minority, we also have some protections and benefits that the rest of the population doesn't have. These protections unfortunately are needed because of the above prevalence in hate crimes and suicide and prejudice and discrimination.
Either way, a lot of talk about the issues facing us as a 'people.' The other funny thing is that transgender individuals often will discriminate and pick on each other, and even gay and lesbian individuals don't always accept transgender individuals either. So while the thought of the LGBTS is good in theory, the group is mostly compromised of gay and lesbian individuals and their straight allies.
So, we have an uphill battle, and this is why it is sooo important and I can't stress this enough but in starting and going through transition having a good counselor and a good set of friends and family to support you in your efforts is very important. There are likely going to be really rough days where you are going to need someone there to cry to or just to tell you that everything is going to be alright. They are not going to be able to understand what your going through, but just by being there for you they show their love and support.
Now, we left off after the suicide attempt and that got me talking about the current rules and regulations. But to get back to our story, I was on the floor crying, and someone finally came to my dorm room door and could hear me sobbing and nocked. I managed to get myself to the door and let them in, I admitted to what I had done, and they immediately got the school counselor to come over. She talked to me, and I grabbed the phone and called my mom, pleading with her to not let them take me to a mental institution. In the end I went for suicide watch, got to the facility and signed myself in so there wasn't any complications, not that I had much of a choice but they were going to involuntarily admit me if I didn't sign myself in.
Have to say for anyone who hasn't been in one of these facilities I think they make you go even crazier. Being around some people who have major issues, and talking and interacting with the other 'inmates' is though. My roommate was a schizophrenic, the nurses and doctors have to watch you as you shave, and your not allowed to have shoes, and the bathrooms don't have doors. All in all no privacy is allowed, I have to say though I was very thankful for an intern who was working at the facility who became attached to me, she made it her project to come and see me, get me out of bed and was able to give me some connection to the outside world to keep me sane. Group was somewhat helpful if you actually put effort into it and answered honestly. But in the end I was in the facility for about a week, the doctors determined that it was an isolated incident due to alcohol and that I wasn't a risk to myself, they did require my mother to come out and pick me up to be released to a family member.
After that, I was able to finish a couple of my courses online, but I withdrew from the Michigan college and packed my stuff up and went home with my mother back to New England. I spent the summer not doing much at all, went to a lot of individual one on one therapy. Had some success with creating spaces in my mind to create safe zones, and the first therapist I saw started teaching me meditation and techniques to try to create my own positive male role model in my imagination. i.e. create a room, closing your eyes, and seeing the 'ideal' father, then having them give you advice, in essence your listening to your own conscious and it can't really replace the real thing, but it helps calm you down when your in critical situations or dark places.
to be continued...