I’m one of the lucky ones; I believe that to be true. When I was a kid, growing up in a conservative, religious household, I struggled with my sexuality. It wasn’t easy, realizing that I felt differently than what I was taught to feel. There was a lot of self loathing to work through, and no way for me to effectively communicate what I was thinking or feeling to the people closest to me.
But like I said, I’m one of the lucky ones. At least I, being born a girl, still felt like a girl and identified as a girl, even though I hated the pleated skirts and the patent leather shoes. I can’t imagine the confusion and despair and self loathing I might have felt if I’d been born transgendered.
If I had been born a girl, but felt like a boy, how hard would that have been? How much pain might I have inflicted upon myself then, or might others have inflicted upon me?
Too weird, right? Such a strange concept to most people, and not something that “normal” people choose to understand or concern themselves with. After all, those people are freaks, and most of us don’t know anybody like “them”.
The truth is that there are hundreds, thousands, ten of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people around the world that feel like they’d been born into the wrong bodies, and the pain and confusion and despair they feel are enough to make them attempt suicide an alarming rate. For transgendered people, the suicide rate is an astounding 41%.
Luckily for me I only had to tell my parents that I’m a lesbian, and despite their religious beliefs they showed me love and support and embraced me. That was hard enough. I can’t imagine struggling with gender issues and having to muster the courage to tell them about that.
Why the hell am I posting this? Because my heart aches for all those people out there who hate themselves and feel they are forced to live a lie. Who feel trapped in a body they despise, and have been assigned a gender they don’t feel is their own. The brave ones who choose to live the way they feel risk losing everything, including their lives.
Trans people go into prostitution at a very high rate because they have difficulties finding work otherwise. This puts them at a very high risk for violence, sexual assault and murder. Those are worst case scenarios, of course. Daily living, for openly trans people, is wrought with discrimination from all corners: health care professionals, police, landlords, employers, family and community members.
I’m bringing this up to shine a spotlight in my very small way, in the hope that someday being transgendered will carry no more stigma than having red hair.
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Great post, Tina!
I agree with you.
If people don’t fit into what those particular limited minds accept or understand (in their often limited world views) they are dubbed outsiders.
I’ve been reading a lot of Richard Dawkins recently (between all the work!) – mainly his books about religion and evolution. Extremely interesting, very good reads.
I do believe that we live in a society filled with a wealth of interesting, stimulating people, whether they be hetero or homosexual. Many good friends are homosexual and I have never for one moment thought about them being anything but decent people who love to share a broader understanding of this world.
Unfortunately, many are often plagued by hate from people who are sadly programmed to hate those who are different; it is inherent in many.
I don’t know where you stand on religion (I myself am “extremely” open minded on the subject of belief) and do believe (even though the Bibles of this world have some very thought provoking and stimulating philosophical ideas) that it twists the minds of many people who choose to understand a simplistic “world view” according to a very outdated, ancient, and somewhat ambiguous “book”.
I recently watched a very interesting film about the subject of homosexuality:
Religion… If people find comfort in it and act with compassion then I say, Good on you! Personally, I have never found a religion that suited me. My parents and grandparents etc, were all devout Catholics. Never worked for me. As a young girl I would look around at the congregation, see them gossiping about each other or looking really bored, and think: there is no meaning here. There is nothing of substance here. I’ve explored everything from Buddhism to earth based religions to Hinduism, and while I find bits and pieces that resonate with me, I cannot buy the whole package. I just can’t. My personal feeling is that some people need an institution, a structure, a manual like religion to help them understand the nature of existence and how they fit into it. Religion, therefore, serves a purpose. However, I do believe that any time you let anyone or any construct define the terms for you then you are missing out on a lot. Life is not black and white. There are more questions that I possess than I will ever find answers for. Some people want the questions to remain few and answerable. I cannot.
I was not familiar with Clinton Richard Dawkins, but Googled him to find out who he is… An atheist. Surprising to me that that discovery makes me feel uncomfortable. Perhaps it was the heavy indoctrination I received as a child, but while I doubt the existence of God and I panic at the thought that there is not one. Does that make sense?
You and I are of like mind, my friend, and it is too bad that we have such a vast distance between us. I would love to have a couple of evenings to sit and talk with you over a couple of beers, but alas that is not to be. We will have to content ourselves with this sporadic conversation, and be grateful for the time we can spare to communicate. Thanks for your input, Phil.
“Surprising to me that that discovery makes me feel uncomfortable. Perhaps it was the heavy indoctrination I received as a child, but while I doubt the existence of God and I panic at the thought that there is not one. Does that make sense?”
It makes perfect sense, because we have no answers – just blind faith in something that we cannot perceive.
In many cases, the panic sets in when we start to contemplate a reality without such a fatherly (or motherly – why is God a male figure???? ) icon: this situation tends to scare a great deal of people: therefore, having a nice “feather bed” of belief all set out in neat little philosophical lines “Calls the faithful to their knees” and , in many cases, keeps them as happy a little lambs running around a field.
Home, home again.
I like to be here when I can.
When I come home cold and tired
It’s good to warm my bones beside the fire.
Far away across the field
The tolling of the iron bell
Calls the faithful to their knees
To hear the softly spoken magic spells.
Good old Floyd! Dark side of the Moon always gets better and better the more I listen to it!
“Some people want the questions to remain few and answerable. I cannot.”
The beer is a good idea!
We have what we call our “Friday night sessions”: debates to put the world to rights over a couple of bottles of red wine: the cast is generally me, my wife, Ingo, and Nina (two very good friends who are like us). We talk about everything from the effects first person shooters can have on on kids, writing books, politics, running your own business.. etc…etc!
The red wine tends to “oil” the debates;-)
But the online debates are good!
Remember to keep throwing out a lifeline to me so I don’t fall into inactivity… I will try and keep up the contact.
Thanks for the reply, you helped me to realize, concretely, something: it is not the possible non-existence of God that makes me feel anxious, rather it is the fear that once my heart stops beating I will no longer exist.