[Content note: suicide and transphobia]
On December 28th, Leelah Alcorn, a 17-year-old transgender girl took her own life. On Tumblr, she left a suicide note that discussed being rejected by her parents.
From USA Today on December 30th*:
“The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights,” Alcorn wrote in a post on Tumblr. [Tumblr has subsequently made the post private at her parent’s request.]
Her parents, she wrote, wanted her to be a “perfect little straight Christian boy.”
“My death needs to mean something,” she wrote in the post, which she scheduled to appear the day after her death.
Her final public words: “Fix society. Please.”
In the past week, Alcorn’s story has gone viral. Many trans and cis people have been mourning her death and calling for greater awareness of the crisis of suicide in the trans community.
Someone** on my Twitter feed mentioned that cis people need to respond to this suicide in a very different way than trans people do. That’s a very, very important point, and I want to take some time to spell out why. Read more…
[Content note: This post contains some major-league triggery stuff about depression and self-harm. Also, there’s transphobia. There’s always transphobia, lolsob]
Yesterday I wrote a piece about why I don’t like “love your body” campaigns. When I wrote it, I made a deliberate decision to omit any of my issues with self-harm. I’ve been thinking about that a lot.
First off, I think it’s inappropriate to start talking about self-harm at the same time that I’ve got widget up raising money for my medical bills. The whole “give me money or I’ll cut myself” thing is manipulative as hell.
Just to be clear that I’m not being passive-aggressive, I’ve long since decided that if I ever find myself insinuating that self harm is eminent, I’m absolutely stopping raising funds prior to doing so. It’s just not cool to put folks in that position, full stop.
And you know, since friends and family are likely reading, let me just say that I’m having a fairly decent week, all things considered. I’m an old hand at managing my depression. I’ve got a great support network. This being trans* shit ain’t fun (nor is mental illness). If it was, all the kids these days would be doing it.
As much as I like to ground my writing in my experiences, I’m not really here to talk about me as much as I am why I’m usually careful to not publicly talk about self harm.
If you’re trans* (or intimately involved in a trans* community), you’ve probably already noticed this: we’re constantly talking amongst ourselves about self-harm.
[Trigger warning for suicide, homophobia, and transphobia]
Note: I wrote this in October 2010. I’ve been sitting on it since then. With the Transgender Day of Remembrance coming up this Sunday, I feel like this is a good time to share it.
I’m a survivor. I’m also not a therapist. It’s not in my interest (or yours) for me to counsel you on mental health. Thus, I’m keeping the comments closed.
An acquaintance took her life this past weekend.
This post isn’t about me (or her), but for the record, I’m doing alright. Members of this particular social circle are in various stage of processing, doing what they need to do.
I trust many readers will not be surprised to find out that my acquaintance was a young, queer and gender non-conforming woman (who I’ll refer to as Sam). The last person I knew to commit suicide, back in 2008, was a trans woman named Sarah.
It’s important to not erase the many straight people who wrestle with depression and self-harm. However, I want to take this moment to give folks yet another reminder of the shortcomings of the media’s newfound (and, I suspect, fading) interest in homophobic bullying and suicide. Read more…
[Trigger warning for depression and anxiety]
Dear The Internet,
It’s quite possible that you’ll notice a continued drop-off in my posting here (and at Shakesville) over the next month or so. I’m not abandoning the Internet (like it would exist without me, right?) or my fundraising, but merely making a more concerted effort to deal with mental health junk.
Due to any number of personal and professional issues (most of which I suspect are familiar to most Americans these days), I’ve been having one hell of a time with anxiety this past year. The good news is that I’m on tons of
drugs totes corporate-approved medications. Rather than having good years and bad years, I’m at the point where I have good days and bad days. That’s pretty sweet.
The irony here (in a literally unironic sense) is that writing is one of the ways I process things, and one of my comforts. Unfortunately, anxiety screws with my brain to the extent that I can have occasional lapses in clarity. When I’m in a bad place, it writing takes longer than it otherwise might.
The thing is, I can’t change my professional responsibilities or my obligation to my family (which I rather enjoy fulfilling, natch). If I fall behind on those scores, I just end up more depressed and anxious.
I can cut back on my hobbies. At some point, that might mean re-examining my involvement roller derby. However, I’ve made a commitment to my team, and damn it if exercise doesn’t help improve my mental health.
This leaves writing. I’d like to think that I should be able to find an hour a day to write, but that’s not necessarily healthy at the moment. Besides, having gone through a Russian literature phase once in my life, I’m pretty sure my “insights” on mental illness aren’t as exciting as I’d like to think. (Seriously Fyodor, STFU already.)
This isn’t to say that I’ll be abandoning writing until things start looking up, but rather that I’m going to pull back a little bit. Instead of writing what I need to when I have to, I’m going to write what I really need to when I really have to.
[Trigger warning for anxiety]
At some point, I’m going to write a length post about both how trans*ness intersects with my mental health and how society devalues care for mental illness.
However, I’m out of Ativan, so that’s not going to happen. Instead, a pair of observations:
If you ever run out of anxiety medication, don’t wear a charm bracelet. I didn’t even know I liked charm bracelets, but my daughter picked one out for my birthday, and it’s awesome. Anyhow, as the last of my pills wore off yesterday, I started to develop the very subtle shakes that have become part of my professional and personal repertoire. With enough effort on my part, I’m typically able to keep these under the radar when I’m in public. That’s where the charm bracelet comes in.
“Is there a cat running around in the corner of your office? I’m pretty sure I just heard a cat.”
When I got home, my partner had just told our daughter that we’d be spending Friday afternoon at the fair.
“I’m going to ride a biiiiiiiiiig roller coaster with Mommy!”
“I don’t think they’ll let you on; you’re only three. Besides, Mommy is afraid of roller coasters.”
“Nooooo, silly Momma! Mommy’s not afraid of anything!”
This struck me as hilarious, until I realized that I’m a storyteller, a talking dog, and an airplane.