As a follow up to my previous post, I was speaking with my good friend who, at times, pokes at me, and usually with good reason! This time it was around the guilt I have for a failed marriage, because I transitioned. She asked it we would still be together if I hadn’t transitioned. Sadly, my response was with complete confidence and without hesitation.
“No”, I replied, “She would be a widow.”
While I let the meaning of that statement sink in, let me provide some context for the original question. Her thought behind the question was that we probably wouldn’t be together regardless of me being trans, as my transition was really only another nail in the coffin, so to speak. And in all fairness, I hear that quite a bit when speaking with other Trans people. Anecdotally, it does happen a lot. The relationship was pretty much in the crapper for whatever reason, and basically on life support when the spouse decides to pull the plug.
In my case, the only reason we separated was because of my gender dysphoria. I was miseable to be around. Hell, I didn’t even want to be around me! And my only out, the only way to survive it was to transition. Period. And I knew the cost. I was fully aware, painfully aware of the consequences. But I decided my life was worth salvaging. I don’t regret for a second transitioning, but that doesn’t mean I can’t feel for the loss and pain it did cause others.
Now, some get very squeamish around this topic, so they dance around it, or even worse, avoid/ignore it. That doesn’t do anyone any good. We can’t, for our own well being, hide this. We need to talk about it. People need to know how dangerous this diagnosis is. This isn’t fun and games. Not at all. Transitioning is the last option, and for most, like me, the only option that leads to survival. And it should be talked about not only for our sake, but for those around us, in fact, the public in general.
Education is a powerful tool in our arsenal to inform, provide an opportunity for meaningful discourse, and to cause change. Forty percent of trans people attempt and/or are successful in suicide. That, I believe, is the highest percentage for any demographic group. Forty percent! Why? For the most part, it is due to lack of understanding, support and acceptance by family. They abandoned their trans family member. Often times, this is also accompanied by struggles with employment, and in some cases, housing etc. So for many, there are not many alternatives. They can no longer deal with the shame, guilt and total despair laid upon them by society.
Some of us are really lucky. Really lucky. I have such wonderful support from my family, friends, colleges at work, my neighbors, and my medical support team. It is the sole reason why I have been, dare I say “successful” in my transition. But I realize I am the exception rather than the rule. Sad to say. I wish it were the opposite. Maybe someday. But only if we don’t hide things. Conversations need to happen. That’s my job.
Fortunately for me, I was not one of the 40%. But I was one of the 75%. Who are they you ask? We are the people that contemplate suicide. Have a plan, thought it all through. But something inside stops it at that. Our will to survive is stronger. For me, it was my inner voice, my Erin voice, that gave me the strength to continue. I knew deep in my heart that my kids, while hurt, would be okay. My sister and brother would be okay. There are just some things you know in your heart. And they were all nothing short of amazing in their support and love for me and they continue to be to this day. And we are all better for it. Our relationship are even stronger.
Remember, you don’t transition in isolation. But I firmly believe it is better than the alternative. Open, honest and thoughtful dialogue is key. Sure, there are consequences. It is not a decision to be taken lightly. Trust me. I know that. But, every life has value. Be strong. You can do this. That was my mantra. I was ready for the consequences. It was probably the most difficulty thing I had to do. But I am in such a better place emotionally, mentally and yes physically because of it.
Live your life.