I got a text from a friend the other day saying “I know you are busy and I hate to ask -but can you set up a blog for me”. Although I used to do this a lot for people, my friend actually really needs a blog (to keep his friends and family posted with some big life stuff he is going through right now) so tonight I started setting it up. And of course I thought about my own blog here … and how if I have learned anything over the past year, it is that I shouldn’t make promises as to when I will post here again. The truth is since my last optimistic post, my final year for masters degree in social work kicked in, my duties at my internship ratcheted up a notch and I am not sleeping as much as I would like again. But other than that I am doing fine. It just means that a few things in my life have to go on the back burner until I get a bit of a break and this blog and updating it as I had planned is one of them … although I am still working on a few things in this area that I do hope to talk about soon.
For now though it is nice for me to take a step back and look at the big picture without having to immediately have to feel I have to write about Trans once every week or so. And even if I am not always thinking about Trans directly, I feel like I have been filling in some of the back story in my personal quest to understand some of the context of what is going on, just through my experiences and studies as a clinical social worker in training. I still think that for a lot of people, being “Trans” is at the end of the day, just another way of coping — a way for people to feel ok enough to get through life. For some it works better than others. (And sadly for some people it doesn’t work very well at all.) But for a bunch of different reasons it is a way a lot of people are trying now. I think as more people are honest about their experiences, maybe people can make more informed decisions about if this is really the right path for them. And if it isn’t … that they can know that is ok too. There are always other options in life. I will always like options.
As it relates to Trans, I still think the mental health component is a huge piece in all of this that is not really being talked about the way it needs to be. It has to happen. And it is a discussion that has to happen in a way that is mindful of people’s dignity and identity. But it does need to evolve. Last year I was writing about Trans suicides a lot here. Writing this blog was not very fun. The topic was unavoidable for me. Also, just the lives of sadness I saw many in the Trans community plunging into. I still see it (again I am not speaking for all) and it is frustrating to me that fears of going against current “political correctness” or “group think” in what we are currently allowed to talk about about is stifling conversations that need to happen. A few times I popped on to reddit and saw confused kids saying that they were thinking of detransitioning because they realized this was not for them, and I was about to give a quick reply that they could follow their intuition and experiment with a few step back, but then I forgot I was banned from the Trans reddit pages (who remove detransitioners) and just had to read all the replies from others telling them to basically “double down” and try harder because they were going to end up suicidal if they didn’t.
I know that a lot of Trans people say they were born in the wrong body. But I am convinced that for others, it is a way of managing situations. And it might just be something they are trying on, and then due to a lot of different psychosocial factors end up staying in a lot longer than they might otherwise and in many cases that becomes their final destination. It is complicated. It is not easy. For a lot of reasons, once you throw down the Trans card, it is pretty hard to walk it back. But I do want to see an individual’s right to look at the etiology of their own transgender identity become destigmatized in areas other than just the biological side … because while I think that is probably part of the story in terms of predisposition, I think there are a lot more things we can be helping people with. And again, it has to been done carefully, not because it is “politically correct” but because people deserve the respect and dignity to have this conversation move forward in a way that doesn’t marginalize them in the way that it has in the past. On the other side of the coin though, loaded language and legislation that lumps ALL efforts of helping kids learn to be ok with their bodies as being “reparative therapy” is not helping the situation. People need to step back, breathe and think. And again, people need to talk and be allowed to talk. People need to tell their stories and we need to learn not to be afraid to listen.
I am very much enjoying what I am doing right now, even if it involves being away from here. A few friends (who have known me for, jeez, 30 years or whatever) have told me that this is what I was always meant to do. But I do hope to find time in the next few months when I can to circle back to this blog and keep on filling in some of the blanks that I think are still missing. I console myself by saying that I am happy to see that the conversation is right now stronger than it ever has been before (and it seems to be growing every week) so I am not really needed. But as someone who cares about this, I want to stand up and do my part just like so many others are now doing. That is how we all get to where we need to be.