I have to tell you upfront that if the site had been functioning properly over the weekend, you may very well not have been reading this particular post at this particular time. I try to at least maintain the illusion of regularity with these posts and I had resolved to myself that no later than Sunday I would have a new entry but the site was not permitting me to post anything. You can make of that circumstance what you will when I tell you that this post is not at all what that post would of been.
What has intervened between then and now? Death. And I hardly think I need to tell you which one. Death by a man’s own hand in a way that, to almost all of humanity, was a most inexplicable event. I’m talking, of course, about Robin Williams. There’s really nothing I can say that has not already been said in 1000 eloquent ways about him by his closest friends, his family, his passing acquaintances and complete strangers. One could take two full days without sleep reading so many tributes posted online and not even scratch the surface. Arguably too, the impact on those whose path he crossed would not even begun to have been done justice by those tributes. I do not of course mean to elevate the death of any one human being over that of another in importance, but it cannot be disputed that some lives have much more impact than others and not very many lives had more impact than his.
Nevertheless, even he, at times, struggled greatly to see and recognize that impact. That I think is what makes this passing so tragic in the eyes of so many. It also serves as a testament to the reality that your own mind can lied to you about the worthiness of your life and contribution even when to the objective observer that contribution is indescribable. I may perhaps be breaking format quite a bit and what I have said to this point but I cannot allow the moment to pass without speaking to it. That said it does relate to the thesis of this website.
It is certainly well known within our community how prevalent the attempted suicide is among our brothers and sisters who are transgender. The most recent and best survey on the subject reports that 41% of surviving trans people surveyed reported having attempted to take their own life, and there’s no accounting for those who not only attempted and succeeded in that figure. This in contrast to a rate among the general population .under 5%. Certainly compared to almost any demographic you might imagine, we relate to the phenomena of suicide. It is hardly possible to offer any new argument that has not already been offered as to why we should struggle against that temptation and not give into it, but more so it is perhaps adds a certain obligation to those of us who survive.
It is well understood by those who study such things that the incidents of actual psychological disorder among trans people (of the sort Williams may well have struggled against) is not significantly higher than in other populations but what is, is the sort of “environmental” depression that arises from the circumstances of your situation. Which is to say that when you know you are a member of a reviled community, one who is quite possibly going to be rejected by everyone you might reasonably expect to love you if they knew the reality of your heart and mind then you are prone to depression even to the point of suicide. It is not enough that we resist giving in to temptation, rather it is incumbent upon us to step out of the darkness and into the light and challenge our society to build a culture that does not reject us for who we are. As long as they are allowed to shame us, reviled was, and mock us then we will continue to bury members of our community who took their own lives. Enough of that.
I would also be shirking my responsibilities here if I did not say to those of you who read this site regularly that if you are fighting her own demons, if you have fought this battle is so many of us have including me and wondered if it was a fight you were ever going to win, do not pass up the opportunity to reach out to those who are there to provide support for those dealing with suicidal temptations. If Robin has taught us nothing else by his untimely death, it is that being well skilled at hiding the inner turmoil and sadness does not make you any less likely to be defeated by those emotions. Please don’t find alone.
Photo from: Dead Poets Society