Monday, April 8, 2013

Community Support and the Realities of Trans Suicide

Just read a kind letter from someone checking up on me, making sure I'm okay, since I haven't been online all that much recently. I am - life is good! But I want to thank each and every one of you who has ever reached out to another person with care and concern. It may not seem like a very significant thing to do, but each kind word adds up. Part of my personal growth as a humanist has involved considering how my actions exist in context of the lives of those around me.

I recently attended a safe space discussion on the impact of suicide on a local community. One of the principles I like to borrow from UU philosophy is the respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. Human beings are not islands. We have neither the right to demand of others nor often the luxury to demand of ourselves to operate in isolation.

Every act of compassion is a radical act of humanism in a society that glorifies hyper-individuality. Similarly, admitting one's own interdependence on those around us is not an admission of personal weakness or failure, but a radical act of self-care. The commitment I see in those around me to affirming these principles in their actions is something that warms my little humanist heart.

I've been sharing my thoughts with various communities, because I feel it's important to periodically recognize the goodness I see in those around me. One thing I want to add in here is that the sad fact of being a gender minority is the presence of suicidal ideation. Or to put it another way, I don't know a trans person who didn't have suicidal thoughts as a part of their personal story. Statistically, 41% of us have attempted suicide, and we all have found ourselves in situations where outside support seems thin or nonexistent.

I want to reaffirm to all of you that needing support is normal and healthy. That suicidal thoughts in the absence of support, in a society that hates us, are neither unusual nor a personal moral failing. The world would be a much dimmer place if a single one of your lights were to be snuffed out, because I see you, and you all are amazing people. I hope that as we stumble through life together, we can continue to create a culture of compassion that allows us each to be fully and unapologetically human.

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