Trans people have the right to live their best lives
To the Editor:
This letter includes the topic of suicide. Vulnerable persons should refrain from reading. If you or a loved one are currently experiencing suicidal thoughts or urges, call or text 988, 911, or go to your local emergency department. If you are struggling with your gender identity or sexual orientation and just need someone to talk to, my email is email@example.com.
It does get better. I promise.
“I’m never going to find a man who loves me. I’m never going to be happy. Either I live the rest of my life as a lonely man who wishes he were a woman or I live my life as a lonelier woman who hates herself. There’s no winning. There’s no way out. I’m sad enough already, I don’t need my life to get any worse. People say “it gets better” but that isn’t true in my case. It gets worse. EACH DAY I GET WORSE.”
Please forgive my inclusion of this emotionally charged and distressing excerpt. This is from trans teen, Leelah Alcorn, shortly before she took her life.
At 14, Leelah always felt different, and when she discovered what trans meant, she cried with joy, finally understanding what IT was that she had been experiencing. Leelah’s parents did not respond in kind. They removed her from school, took away all means to communicate with the outside world, and enrolled her in conversion therapy where she was chastized and shamed as selfish for having the audicity to be who she was.
However some may disagree with my inclusion of this passage, I believe it is necessary given today’s current environment, characterized by increased hate crimes (especially against trans people of color) coupled with the hardly veiled transphobic rhetoric of modern discourse. Let’s not mince words: beliefs and speech, regardless of our inalienable rights to both, have consequences.
Eighty-two percent of trans people have considered suicide, 40% have attempted. Being trans comes with its own intrinsic challenges, even removing the prejudice factor. Namely, Gender Dysphoria, a central experience for trans people that can be summarized as a sense of anguish attributable to one’s outward appearance not reflecting how they are on the inside. It is a causal factor for comorbid depression and anxiety among others. Of course, we don’t live in enlightened times, and the bulk of trans’ plight is rightly attributed not to Gender Dysphoria, but popular prejudice reinforced by ignorant rhetoric.
Despite popular loathing of so-called “wokeness” by the authoritarian right, there is an abundance of evidence to support trans peoples’ validity. There have been studies that show similarities in brain structure and function in trans people correlating with their identified gender. Trans people and those who do not operate within the “normal” sex-gender binary have existed throughout history and will continue long after we’re all gone.
Trans people have the right to live their best lives free from prejudice, discrimination, and the chronic threat of violence and fear of rejection that members of the queer community are all-too familiar with. They are human beings with inherent worth and dignity. To any so-called “patriot” who spews hate against others for being different, whether that be in an overt form or in the sinister variety operating under the banner of “love”: The fact that there is even the possibility for trans people to live their lives as they are is a remarkable accomplishment of the American system, prevailing over the darkest aspects of human nature as manifest contemporaneously by even smaller minds.