A Revolutionary Act – Love of Self & Others

“It isn’t being transgender that’s killing us.” (http://huff.to/1LcmSGp)

Facebook is vastly interesting. There are so very few other places that are tolerable to stay for long periods of time with articles being served right to you with a comment section right in your face. I read many articles a day, and often take a quick peak to gauge the reactions from people within. Sometimes they are good, but if they are on certain controversial topics, they can get very ugly. Venn diagram of ugly comments massively intersects articles about trans* individuals, and that is where we begin.

The comment section of any social media site, Facebook more than most, can give you a good idea of what society at large is doing. You have supporters – likes, sometimes shares – and detractors – commenters, but not all of them. A quick glance into any article about trans* people will give one an idea of exactly what one faces as a trans* person. Often, these commenters, “experts,” cite data without fully comprehending its meaning. When they cite that we have a suicide rate of approximately 40%, they do so by asserting the fallacious conclusion that it “must be because we are mentally ill.” They, and credentialed “experts” like them, wish to push a narrative on those of us that are trans* that even the most elementary understanding of statistics would suggest might be a little off.

They assume a cause, assert a conclusion, and use a simplified correlation to generate a biased narrative that is harmful to children, young adults, and even adults that are still trying to figure themselves out. They disregard the information readily available to them, such as that from the Williams Institute (http://bit.ly/1DQGYDu), and continue on their path of insensitivity. They fail to recognize that they play the biggest roles in these suicides (or, as I call them, homicides-by-proxy), because that would require them to amend their world view. That is not easy, however, as their view was shaped by preachers, family, and political pundits that do not want them to deviate from the narrative that they have used to normalize themselves and stigmatize others. Deviation from that means a change in the balance of power from the group to the individual, and we are often told that such a path is “selfish,” even while these people benefit from our own compliance. We trans* individuals are assaulted on all sides by people that wish to erase our very existence by hurting us physically & mentally, removing our shelter, removing our right to use a washroom, and the list goes on and on.

The Williams Institute recognizes these factors in contributing to the high suicide rate of individuals like myself, but a journal article changes society’s understanding very little. That requires a plethora of methods from both allies and trans* individuals alike. If you are an ally, support your fellow humans. When you see intolerance, wipe it clean. Replace it with facts. Data. Hard truth. Do not let them harm another trans* person ever again, because each of those comments represents harassment towards someone – either online or off. Each of those comments represents someone being put in pain and possibly killed. Put yourself in the shoes of someone that identifies as trans* and is subject to that harassment and do something about it. Most of the time, you have the advantage of not feeling the same stress that would be placed on a trans* person trying to affect change. If you are trans*, then decide for yourself if you can handle speaking out. Not all of us are strong enough, depending on our life’s situation, and that is perfectly fine. Do what you can, not what you think you should. Those of us that are capable of doing so must speak out.

Quod est necessarium est licitum – What is necessary is lawful, just. I do not condone the use of violence. What I mean with this philosophy is – do not let other people tone police you. If you feel like being belligerent, swearing like a sailor, and pushing down the negativity with trolling, do it. I have that seek-and-destroy attitude, and it feels great for me. Do what best suits you, but do it well, and plug these leaking holes that are costing us lives each day. Censor them to your hearts content. In the United States, the Constitution grants us freedom of speech, but it does not grant awful people freedom from the consequences of what they have to say. Think about it – if your words could save one life by helping them realize that there’s people out there fighting for their right to live, does that not make it worth it? It does to me, and that is why I do what I do.

As is pointed out within that article, harassment is not the only factor in one’s suicide attempt. There is that omnipresent feeling that we will never be who we want to be. We will never pass the way we want to pass. We will never feel the way we want to feel. We feel that there will always be a negative outcome, no matter what we do. I’m here to tell you that this is not the case. I can hear the collective groan of mostly youthful voices from that sentence, as it’s often pushed on us from day one. It doesn’t help that the social stigma associated with sharing mental health stories often prevents relatable content from being mainstream and readily available to those that need it. That’s not to say it isn’t there – if you haven’t read “The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath, you need to regardless of how you feel – but just that it’s lacking. This void leaves the question of, “Why should I continue living? What is the point? Once I am dead, I won’t care about how other people feel about my actions. I don’t know what’s there, but it won’t be their ‘tolerance-only’ attitude of my true self, that’s for damn sure.”

On the evening of November 3, 2014, those were my exact thoughts. I was numb. Barring details prior to 2014 (that’s for another time), the entirety of that year up until November was a sine wave of depression. There were brief periods of feeling neutral, capable enough to get basic things done, but there were deep dark periods where even brushing my teeth routinely was a chore. I couldn’t look in the mirror, as it offered a poor reflection of how I felt. Every time I walked by it, it seemed to highlight that my body was not what my mind was truly perceiving. Anytime I wasn’t around it, and I was left to imagine myself, everything was fine. When the reality of it all was presented before me, my chest began to tighten, my breath shortened, and my pupils dilated. Often the only thought was, “This can’t be me. This isn’t how I feel. This is not how I know myself internally.” I’ve known what was wrong with me from a very young age, only learning the proper terminology for it in my teens, but that offered no solace. The only comfort I could get was in my sleep. To escape myself and my darkening feelings, I would sleep for 14 or more hours each day, and I only awoke to go to the bathroom. Meals were sparse during that period, and why bother when it only seeks to sustain the status quo? Had I sought out a counselor for that period? Of course. That August, I met with a counselor at my university, the sweetest one that I have met so far, and began discussing things with them. They told me some new things – previous counselors had misdiagnosed me, PTSD better characterized the majority of how I felt – and some old things – that I did have gender dysphoria and I did need to seek treatment. They offered to help me call somewhere, but the prospect of having to pay without insurance frightened me, and I told them I would handle it on my own. This was a poor choice on my part, because my dysphoria often manifests as social anxiety. So, calling around to places is often delayed – sometimes indefinitely. After the five sessions were up with that counselor, I was on my own. The pressure of finding help mounted, and was only temporarily assuaged when I found several individuals willing to help on my insurance plan, but quickly came back when I felt as though I might be blocked from getting the exact treatment I felt I needed. My insurance was not my own, and family issues began to deflate my options. As darkness began to creep into my apartment with the sun quickly falling from the sky, I felt every possibility at once. Numbness turned to large tumbling tears that would not stop for silence. Heaves of breath came forth as I cried to the ceiling asking, “Why me?”

The prospect of not being able to transition, family judgments, and not wanting to face the future under a banner – a name – to which I did not feel attached to all weighed like granite upon my psyche. I had enough. I began to put my plan into action that would, from my perspective, finally give me peace. I used my knowledge of medications from being a pharmacy technician to combine a variety of medications that might allow me to never see that face in the mirror again. I did not care that most homicide-by-proxies using pills resulted in an attempt only. It’s what I had available, and was the only option I was willing to take. I did not want to horrify the person that might discover me in the morning, and I did not want to scare anyone else – such as my family – that might have to deal with my body. Even at the very end, I wanted to be considerate of other people over myself. I donned my skull-print pajamas, the top being one that I purchased as a gift of peace to myself not long before – one from Amazon’s women’s section – and I settled into the nest of comforters I had placed upon the floor. I drank my elixir and laid down. Crying, I contemplated moving to my bed, instead, but was afraid that I might disturb my neighbors.

I was not afraid.

My crying subsided, and I closed my eyes to rest there. Waiting. I do not know how much time passed between events, but I recall most of it vividly. I remember how it felt to “wake up,” but not be able to see. I remember existing only as thoughts, almost as if my body was a shell around me, and the uncontrollable shaking. I remember recognizing that I was having a seizure, but not being able to stop it. I could not feel anything or control anything, except for my tongue. I remember thinking about how the shaking was rather loud, and that it might be a problem, and then I thought I could hear tapping on my wall from one neighbor and banging from below by another. I had disturbed them. I did not care, I just hoped that they would not ruin my plans by calling someone. Eventually, they stopped, and so did I. I drifted in and out of various dream states that felt incredibly real. Whether they were near-death experiences or not, I may never know for sure, but I assume so. At some point, after being thrown into Hades (not Hell, at least according to the motif), I woke up. I was disoriented, my toe was bruised and throbbed from slamming it into the ground so much during the seizure, and all I wanted was the softness of my bed. At that point, I kind of figured it was over. If seizing and everything else wasn’t going to kill me, then that was, overall, the end of it. It took a great amount of effort to move back to my bed, as I could barely stand for more than a few seconds without feeling overwhelmed, but I made it. I began to feel bad for not contacting my girlfriend prior to initiating it, but I had also not wanted to disturb her with that as it was happening, and I also did not care at the time I was doing it. If I remember correctly, all of that lasted from 7PM to 3 AM. I told her what happened over the previous three hours, and told her that I may be still in the process of expiring. Even then, she stood by me and comforted me. A few hours of talking and hallucinations later, and it was a bit beyond 5 AM when I began to expel the toxic brew as quickly as it had come in. The next day, I was too sick to do anything more than a few minutes of cleaning here and there. I did not know it at the time, but my heart rate was through the roof. It stayed that way, along with the high blood pressure that comes with it, for many months afterwards. The day after the cleaning and recovery, I went to the university clinic for my toe, which looked as though I had broken it at that point in time, and sought help. They brought in a new counselor to speak with me, and he tried to help as best he could. I explained the how, when, where, and why. Every detail that he wanted, and assured him that it was the only attempt that I was willing to make. Shortly after that, I found a therapist that respected me and truly wanted to help me. They found a doctor that was willing to help with HRT, and referred me to them. I have been on HRT since May, and I have never been happier.

My experience has allowed me to answer some of these questions. Why should I continue living? In my opinion, one does not have to. It is not a necessary requirement for one’s true happiness. Indeed, if the pursuit and success of one’s suicide is the path to one’s true happiness, then I feel that it should be an available option. A better question is why should you not? As it stands, we know very little about what happens after death. It is hypothesized that DMT floods the brain and creates a perpetual dream-like state for one’s consciousness, but there’s no guarantee that it stays that way. One may fall from this DMT-induced state to another reality in which they live much the same life as before. Perhaps it may even end in one being trans* in another period of time. We simply do not know, and any speculation about it is that only. Fear of the unknown is a poor foundation upon which to build one’s new life upon, though. I do not choose that path. Instead, I choose things that we do know. We know that sex, gender, and sexual orientation is a spectrum. Current research in biology suggests it, our understanding in psychiatry suggests it, and brain scans show it to be true. I replace the unknown with science, facts, data. What is the point? In the very near future, perhaps even within 10 years, one will be able to become what they need to survive. 3D printing technology is advancing by leaps and bounds. It is reasonable for one to extrapolate, from the current state of our ability to print organs, that we will have the capability to produce fully functional reproductive organs at low cost in the very near future. We are entering the age of designing humans – both old and new. With this, we require a new way of seeing ourselves. We are fluid beings that exist far beyond what our bodies can hold us to, and we should embrace that, regardless of how a few individuals without proper education see us.

Why should I care about other people or how my actions affect others? Simply put, you don’t have to. However, that does not mean that everyone else should be subjected to your apathy. Everyone is capable of empathy, either innately or through training. Using this to treat others the way they want to be treated earns one respect, kindness, and sympathy. It creates community, and allows for the domination of positive outcomes. Life is straying away from competitiveness as we advance in A.I. & robotics. By listening and caring for others, you find more ways to help people up to your level of enlightenment. Pushing people back down the pile only hinders progress and keeps us all divided – which is exactly what certain political groups want us to do. Accepting diversity, rather than taking a “we’re all one” approach, is the engine of creativity and new experiences.  Why me? Why not. Your experience affords you a far greater understanding of the human mind, ability, and compassion than is usually credited. There are subcommunities out there that fail in applying their innate knowledge, but that should not change how you lovely people see yourselves. You are important. You are loved. You are supported. If it isn’t readily apparent, begin seeking out support groups or safe places that show you that it is true through words, actions, or other methods. Let your flame shine brightly, and maybe you will force others to reignite their candle, but protect yourself from toxic individuals that may try to snub you out. Stay safe, in power & love.

Via Tyrone-Pines, Tumblr

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New APA Guidelines for Trans* Health

For the first time ever, on August 5, 2015, guidelines have been adopted by the American Psychological Association (http://bit.ly/1HH6QMY) to reduce transphobia among psychologists and therapists. In this 31-page article, it is asserted, from the medical literature available today, that only trans-affirmative therapy and a solid understanding of the effect of minority stress on one’s mental health, as well as support from family & friends, will lead to a positive health outcome. Within these guidelines, it is suggested that using an interdisciplinary approach is the best option. This will allow for deconstruction of the binary approach that has been used in the past in favor of our new understanding, thanks to biologists, that suggest sex, gender, and sexual orientation are all distinct elements of a person, each with their own spectrum.

Via: MyTransHealth (http://on.fb.me/1JU9AN3)

Shades of Cosplay by Pretty Brown &Nerdy

Shades of Cosplay (http://bit.ly/1EmgzrS) is a great documentary. Seriously, watch it, especially if you are part of the cosplay community.

Cosplay should be about becoming a fantastical character, pouring every ounce of passion you have into a project and coming out with something aesthetically pleasing, artistically beautiful. It is wrong to judge people for things that they cannot change. Full stop. Being yourself is the most perfect way to add a twist to the portrayal of a well-known character. It adds flavor and the freshness that allows for so many successful cosplayers and wonderful individuals to have a voice. Policing their bodies is detrimental to the message that such a community of intelligent and understanding individuals should be sending. If you do this, cease now. Think about how your actions, words, feelings effect others. Everyone is capable of empathizing, outside of a few cases. That should make us want to lift people up – not put people down, force label things onto them that they do not want, and everything else. Treat people how they would like to be treated. 

Via Pretty Brown & Nerdy (http://on.fb.me/1Ts2sYQ)

Shades of Cosplay | A Black Cosplayer Documentary - YouTube

The 1,091

1,091. That is the number of police slayings since August 9, 2014. We have allowed our peace officers to become judge, jury, and executioner without due process. We have allowed our Constitution to be violated, because prejudice people continue to gain power and keep policies in place that allow for the militarization of our police. We have allowed our culture to become indifferent to police brutality and say, “It’s just part of their job. Police Lives Matter, too.” This has to stop. No civilized society may exist with such wanton use of violence when there are, often times, better choices of action available. Bernie Sanders seems to be the only candidate that has proposals to begin curbing this violence that disproportionately affects people of color, but that only highlights the issue. Out of so many candidates vying for nomination to our two-party system, we have only a single candidate that has a track record of being with the civil rights movement. There should be more. Furthermore, we shouldn’t have to rely on something someone did forty years ago to establish where they now stand on the issues in 2015. We have not progressed much in those forty years if we are just now willing to tackle an issue that we swept under the rug using a candidate that became apathetic to race issues long ago. We deserve better, but that will come with time. Right now, we need to be more worried about what people have to say, what policies would be best based on evidence, and getting someone in power who is willing to follow through, rather than how the discussion is conducted and whether or not people are justified in storming stages. For thousands of years, injustices have been brought to the attention of those in power by civil unrest and disobedience. If you perpetuate the notion that one should “sit down and shut up,” you are as bad as those that kill someone with their hands already in the air or that has already had a body check (http://bit.ly/1gxnxEU). The notion that silence fixes problems stems from a place where privilege shades in one’s world view and blinds the individual to how change is created. If you honestly believe that silence and acceptance of one’s situation is the correct answer, then I challenge you to find out a baby’s needs without them first throwing a tantrum. Know a child’s desires without them telling you. Understand a teenager’s brain without them speaking. See to an adult’s requirements without them communicating. None of these things can be done, except in the most basic of ways, and it applies to society as a whole. Without making a scene, often times, one is not listened to, especially by a media that lives off sensationalism. How many of these 1,091 deaths have you heard about? I would presume that it is but a small fraction, and that is exactly the point. The ones that you have heard about were the result of civil unrest or egregious circumstances caught on video – sometimes both. So, how can one logically expect silence to disseminate information needed to understand these issues? Through research by individuals? From what I have seen throughout my social media experience, the vast majority of people are unwilling to reach beyond what is offered up to them. Fewer still know how to properly conduct research, and most of those are unable to overcome inherent cognitive biases that prevent them from accepting reality. So, in what universe is it reasonable to expect obedience to produce a desired outcome? None.

Via: Vox

Via: Vox

Importance of Homosexuality

So, is it any wonder why we have so many children without a stable and loving family? This adoption occurs naturally in nature, and the amount of species that this has been observed in has grown from 500 to over 1,500 known species. Animals display a wide variety of sexual habits, including exclusive homosexuality, and shows just how diverse the spectrum of LGBTQIA+ individuals is. It’s time to recognize what’s normal, and the easiest way to do that is through the use of language that we have cultivated over thousands of years. What one has to say about themselves, their experience, and their place in the world matters far more than what any single person could interpret from an old dusty text that failed to predict any modern problems, let alone provide solutions to them. Treat everyone with respect. Listen to them without considering what you will say in return until after they have spoken their piece. Let people exist as they are, and be happy with how you experience life. After all, the only purpose to this existence is to die gracefully (and perhaps perpetuate the existence of the universe through observation, but that’s a quirk of QM that has yet to be solved).

Image Credit: Jenny Jinya

Sanders Steps Away

 It was wrong for U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders to walk off that stage without listening. Human beings are fluid. We are dynamic in our thoughts and actions. Anyone that tells you that they are the same as they were in the past are either lying to you or lying to themselves. Thus, digging up support you had for the Civil Rights Movement of years past does not show what you’re willing to do now. It shows you have the capacity, but walking away and deflecting – a common tactic of the worst politicians – shows that the connection is disused. The understanding that once may have been there has dwindled to indifference, as if #BernieSanders removed the tape silencing the oppressed and put it right back shortly thereafter. What matters is what one listens to, talks about, and acts upon now. If he does not address this, he might as well step away from the election and pass it to Hillary. He would be part of the establishment.

 
#BlackLivesMatter
#Sanders2016
#FeelTheBern.. out

Image Credit: Alex Garland
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