Slipping Into the Darkness
I’m obliged to switch gears and take a more solemn tone with this entry, my friends. The provocation for this, as you might guess if you pay attention to the trans community on Facebook, is the death of Lisa Empanada. However, I do not wish to be understood here to be writing ABOUT this lovely lady or her passing specifically, but rather offering observations prompted by the news itself.
You see, I didn’t know Lisa. I had 20 mutual Facebook friends with her and many and all of them are, of course, devastated. It was said that she took her own life, but most of those who knew her have been reluctant to specifically discuss the nature of her death or what circumstances might have provoked it, as respectful decorum would demand. So I can’t write from the point of view of having experienced her life personally, or even engaged in a casual on-line passing of the time. I can see from her Facebook page that she gave every appearance of having a rewarding, well adjusted result from having transitioned and I note that several of my acquaintances who did know her mentioned that she did have a supportive family. So to repeat, what I’m about to say is speculative, and not a direct speculation on her choices, but on the lives of trans folks in general.
The reality is that while it is very true that a great many trans people have a wonderful outcome from their transition, and with very very few exceptions all of us find that our own personal situation (the lives we live underneath our skin) are dramatically improved, it is also true that for a great many of us the pressures brought to bear from outside our selves in response to our transition can be staggeringly adverse. I do not presume to gues what brought Lisa to her decision, and it most certainly might have been something completely unrelated to being trans, but it is easy to imagine the multitude of possibilities that are trans related. It can be, and very often is, an incredibly stressful journey even when you very much like the destination. Things like family pressures, career issues, social interaction, church situations, financial pressures, adverse health issues (how hard must it be when the doctor tells you “if you don’t stop hormones it will kill you, and you can never stand to have surgery”?) and who knows what else? All this potentially poured into a life which has already been characterized by a great deal of mental stress from having spent most of life closeted.
Many of us bring psychological damage to the transition process simply because of how their mind dealt with the pressures of keeping the mask in place all their life, particularly in the overwhelming sense of rejection and not having been good enough or “normal” enough. Take an already wounded psyche and load it down with all the negative feedback we sometimes encounter during transition and that’s a recipe for internalized self-doubt that no amount of peer support can completely remedy.
So my point here, as I write this tonight, is simple: if you are one of those people who have so indoctrinated yourself into the “I’m not good enough, I’m not loveable” mindset – to the point where you ever consider suicide – PLEASE reach out to someone and share your feelings, seek out help, let your allies lift you up. I know that scores of women are crying bitterly tonight that Lisa didn’t give them the chance to prove their love for her. Possibly because she didn’t feel it was there.
If you are not a person dealing with those emotions, be very sensitive to those who are and never fail to say to the apparently despondent “You are loved!”
Can we all resolve to do that?
Image by Victor Gregory