Trans Day of Visibility
So today is Transgender Day of Visibility, it felt like a good day to make our first public post.
The sun is shining up North today, the clouds are drifting lazily by, there’s a warm breeze blowing and looking out the window I can see the River Tyne sparkling as she flows towards the sea.
I love Newcastle, she’s a beautiful city, and I love that I am able to confidently hold my head high and walk its streets as an out genderqueer person, the Geordie genderqueer a moniker that still makes me smile wryly.
I earned that confidence over time, I learnt what it means to be self-ful and to practice self love, this didn’t come easy for me, though it did come quickly. You see I’m a poster child for what can go wrong for trans people who socially transition, relationship breakdown, family estrangement, unemployment, loss of friends, homelessness and mental health problems.
It sounds grim – and it was, but I wouldn’t change anything for the world because of the deep respect for everything that makes me who I am today.
There was a lot of trauma in a really constrained period of time early in my social transition, it led to me trying to commit suicide, given a third of trans adults and half of trans youth take a pop at ourselves it’s not really surprising given what can can go wrong and in my case did. And when things go wrong they often begin to cascade as each domino falls there’s more chance of the next one falling
I don’t have a video camera capable of time travel to show what I want to illustrate next, my version of “This Is What Trans Is“ so my humble apologies, words will have to suffice alone.
It was a sunny morning and there was a breeze in the air that day much like today, I was heading into Newcastle for work, someone looked at me the wrong way on the bus, that glance that said they’d spotted something that didn’t fit their worldview and their look of disdain said all that needed to be said. That was the straw that did it. There’d been all the big stuff I’ve mentioned but that glance at the wrong time was all it took.
I got off the bus and walked towards the place that I’d chosen to die. You see I’d planned my death, I’d been crumbling for weeks. So much so that my therapist at the gender service had written to my GP to advise that they felt I was a suicide risk and that they wanted the GP to put measures in place to provide additional support. My GP didn’t read the letter, though they’d had it for 3 weeks. Truth be told, my GP had been a real barrier to my gender care, something that’s still often the case for trans people. They oozed unconscious trans bias (cis-sexism) that always left me feeling emotionally drained by my contact with them.
As I climbed over the railing on a flyover at the A1 and looked at the oncoming traffic I wondered if the 30ft or so fall would be enough to kill me or whether it would be a car or a truck that would finish me off.
I remember taking my phone out of my pocket and wanting to find a reason to live, I had 20 numbers left in my phone then, it’s funny I have about 200 now 5 years later, I mentally crossed each one of the contacts of the list of people I could talk to, isolation does that to people, it’s easy to get caught in a downward spiral.
Anyway they didn’t care, I didn’t want to burden people, it was a jumble of thoughts, luckily my therapist had given me the local crisis team number whom I rang. We talked, they called the police I ended up at the Transwell unit, an interesting place but not one I’d care to stay at longer than needed, and then got let out. The day after I popped into a solicitors, changed my name and went full time as we call it in trans land; and the rest is history.
I didn’t jump, why didn’t I jump? Well there were a number of reasons, the primary one was I thought “Fuck You, World”. What did those words mean? Well, I came to an understanding that my gender dysphoria – the very thing which led me to this point – was about to kill me. Except it wasn’t my gender dysphoria, it was society, society was about to claim another trans life because of all the intersectional oppressions it inflicts on us as a marginalised people, layers upon layers of discrimination.
I refused to become a victim of our society, I chose to live, I’m not a victim I’m a survivor. There’s a whole other bunch of stuff related to my identity wrapped up on that flyover but I’m not going to talk about me anymore.
Our media is dominated by positive trans narratives, we platform endless positive portrayals of trans people coming out. This is great to encourage people to feel like they can come out and live their lives as their authentic selves. But I’m not sure that it helps directly in resolving the contemporary issues that impact trans people’s lives.
Instead what we see is trans people coming out and hitting a societal brick wall which is manifested in healthcare inequalities, lack of trans inclusive service provision in all areas of public life just to get us started.
And despite tipping points when we look at research over the last 10 years the attempted suicide figures aren’t getting better, when they start to drop that will be a reliable indicator that things are improving.
I wanted to end this first post with a positive, to mark Transgender Day of Visibility, in Newcastle tonight the Millennium Bridge will be going purple, it’s a symbolic gesture but these things are important.
I’m going to walk down to the quayside after our Be You support meeting tonight and reflect on the day. If by chance anybody fancies walking down with me it’d be great to have company.
Happy Trans Day of Visibility Everybody