On the Ledge
A lot of us – those of us living this life full time – are so isolated in the “real world” that we feel compelled to seek out those who share or experiences in common on social media. In my own case, I’ve only ever knowingly met, face to face, one other trans woman who lived in the same state as me since I came out, and even she was not yet full time and was in drab on her day job wen we talked.
I’ve sought to interact with other trans people in my state on-line very much in an effort to address the sense of alienation in my face-to-face world. Without considerable emotional support, the demands of transition can be crippling, and while support from loved ones is key, interacting face to face with others who can relate to your journey is also vital.
It goes without saying that for those who don’t have the former, the latter becomes all important.
We are all well aware that some among us have a relatively easy time of transition. Being well positioned financially, circumstantially, heck genetically, can all make a big difference. The loving support of those who mean most to you is priceless and the benefits of youth to this calculation are incalculable. For each decade one waits, the extent to which the physical appearance needs remedy increases exponentially for some of us. But conversely, the younger you are the greater the financial challenge (unless you are blessed with good insurance).
But others get the short end on many of those factors, some on all of them. Such people, if they pursue transition, can quickly find themselves destitute and fighting just to survive, let alone thrive, in their newer gender presentation. I wonder if perhaps those in the community who are relatively well off fully appreciate the seriousness of those situations.
I have a Facebook friend who, even as I write this, regularly discusses the potential for suicide. She’s not, insofar as I can tell, emotionally suicidal but rather simply running a calculation on her circumstances and concluding that there’s no practical way that she can expect to be able to keep living. Even now she finds herself in survival mode doing things that might themselves result in her death just to keep shelter over her head. I want to say to her, in sincerity, that t will get better if she hangs on but if I’m going to be honest with my friend, i can’t in good conscience say that. I don’t know whether it will get better.
It’s paralyzing to know you need to reach out to a person on the very ledge and ready to jump and not be able to offer a legitimate and credible argument why her decision would be a mistake. Yes of course, the value of a human life – but when you are in the place that she is, that many others like her are, how do you think that platitude is going to sound?
In this heady era in which wealthy celebrities transitioning has captured so many imaginations…in a time when Hollywood elites line up to say their congrats to Bruce Jenner…in a time when there’s an actual trans woman billionaire, can we not do better? There ought to be an ongoing foundation funded by the donations of wealthy trans people and every well off person who presumes to be an ally (along with contributions from whosoever will, of course) which seeks to help the impoverished trans person with not just medical expenses, though these are critical of course, but with the oppressive circumstances of life.
Take my friend for example, or someone similarly situated since I don’t know her exact circumstance. What would it cost to relocate a barely surviving trans woman in, say, Kansas to – for example – Seattle, and connect her their to people who could help her find gainful employment, suitable housing and a strong support network of friends? That figure whatever it is, couldn’t be that substantial compared to the loss of a life – but might well be beyond the reach of that woman in Kansas, and beyond the means of any of those of us watching her despair and wanting to help.
Crowd-funding is a good thing but it’s unrealistic to go back to that well for every poverty-stricken and trapped trans person. But tat cost would be perfectly reasonable for a well funded grant. Probably less than the cost of SRS, and in that example the SRS then would be on the table because of the favorable insurance environment on the West coast. Some needs go beyond what money can address- it can’t change the heart of a child who’s rejected you for example. Perhaps we can’t meet every need of every trans person, but we can surly pull them off the ledge with a real reason, can we not?
Photo by: Quinn Dombrowski