Alexander posted a comment in response to my last topic What Does it Mean to Fully Transition? And in this topic I will attempt to answer those questions in another two part response. Alexander said “I would love to know about that initial reaction of a trans individual when receiving the news that another sibling has fallen to murder or suicide. I want to know how does the trans community create space for the sorrow in how people are feeling and how do you take care of yourself in the face of all this adversity.” In part one I will discuss my perspective on how the trans community has been affected by the recent death that’s plagued us. And in part two I will discuss self care in the midst of adversity.
I have to admit I don’t necessarily have the most “normal” reaction after hearing about someone’s death. I generally try to ignore it and move on rather quickly, I’ve always been that way even as a child I refused to cry at funerals and refrain from getting too emotionally involved. I think it may simply be my personal way of coping with the situation, in a bizarre way I prepare for people to leave me sooner or later but that’s an entirely different topic about trust issues. Specifically as it relates to the trans community it’s a bit of an unreal feeling when you hear another trans person has lost their life to suicide or homicidal violence. I think every trans person momentarily puts themselves in place of that person. When your walking home from the bar down the street from your house and a car full of cis men cat call you and when they realize you’re trans they point a gun directly in your face (fortunately that hasn’t been my reality) or when life has become so overwhelming that you plan your suicide and you can see the end vividly. The fear and pain sits deeper than the loss of a community member, it hurts and scares you because you know it could be you. You know while these situations may not be the same you know that they are very parallel to your life. I asked a room of 4 trans people and 1 queer identified person if they have ever thought about suicide and all five people raised their hand. Why is this normal?
Unfortunately for a plethora of reasons the trans community doesn’t seem to have a unified space where we can exist as our authentic selves and share experiences and concerns with other people who understand us. The University of Cincinnati’s LGBTQ center is a great attempt at that but it’s often suppressed by a sense of bureaucracy and school politics beyond the control of anyone with a genuine interest in the trans community. It’s so difficult to sift through these feelings alone and isolated. Trying to navigate the world while simultaneously placing grief for the loss of a community member seems near impossible but somehow those of us who survivor manage to do so.
Check out part 2 on self care!