Before I start my next rant, please let me stress that this "problem" I'm struggling with does not originate with anyone on Slashdot, or anything written here. Yes, several Slashdot users have inadvertently stepped into it, always via private email, but the problem, for me, started in real life. It just so happens that the exact same problems I've had with transsexuals in real life *also* happen when I meet transsexuals via Slashdot.
And the situation is something I'd like to learn to deal with, since it seems like it's going to happen on and off for the rest of my life. Sigh.
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In Mid-November, a local pre-op transsexual woman who had apparently transitioned fifteen years previously and had no prior record of violence, was reported to be acting erratically. She was arrested, taken for medical treatment, and then taken to the men's jail downtown, because she still had male genitalia. There was a struggle, and she died, for reasons that remain unknown. You can read the full article here.
I found this story very troubling in a number of ways, and it has had a profound effect on me. But that's not why I'm bringing it up now.
At one time, I had been a member of every trans-related support group I could find, and I was still on the mailing list for one of the local groups, although I had stopped reading it months ago. So I went to look and see if they knew anything more about this tragic story.
I didn't find any additional information about the tragedy.
But I found a curious reaction in one message.
I don't know whether or not it's okay for me to quote the message, so I'll just paraphrase.
The poster basically asked: Why do many local transgender people avoid the transgender community? Why are they hiding? Why are they afraid to "out" themselves to us? What can we do to reach out to them? How can we let them know that they're not alone? How can we help them?
I found this interesting because I could also be considered to be "hiding"... from the transgender community's perspective, anyway.
During the early part of my transition, I sought help from every single person and place I could find it. Some of those were helpful, and I sought to nurture those connections and relationships. Some were not helpful, and I gradually let those fall by the wayside in order to focus on what actually *was* helpful.
The local transgender community... wasn't particularly helpful. So I eventually gave up on it.
Not only that... none of the transsexuals I had met were very helpful either, and so those budding friendships dwindled or died... in one case in a rather painful way, which I may talk about sometime.
So, here I am, isolated, cut off from the community that's here specifically to help people like *me*... all alone. Without help. Without support.
As I mentioned in my last entry, in part I'm struggling to deal with an overabundance of support! I'm not just "not alone", I'm swamped with love and support from my friends, my family, and my coworkers. Pretty much *everybody* knows *everything*; I'm certainly not hiding! And everyone is willing to help, everyone is willing to talk me through things, offer a shoulder to cry on, and help me learn both what it means to be a woman, and how to learn to live an actual life after a decade of isolation.
Why do people in the transgender community assume that the only possible way to survive as a transgendered person is safely enveloped in the loving embrace of the transgender community?
And, oddly enough, they don't just do it as a community... they do it as individuals as well. I've had it happen to me a dozen times or more, on line and in person... Sarah, you have to let me help you. Let me teach you. You don't know what you're getting into. You're going to fail without my help. You'll destroy your life. But I can help. I can tell you what to do. My advice will save you.
When I was just starting out with my transition, I was extra-cautious about who I would accept help from and what kind of help I would accept, because I had read online that naive people early in their transition process can wind up getting into trouble, or get taken advantage of. I figured I would probably be vulnerable, so I was extra-careful, and simply did my best to deflect help from people who I didn't know and trust.
As time went on though, it became clear that my transition was going very well, better than most... but transsexuals continued to insist that they needed to save me.
Slowly, it became annoying... aggravating... frustrating... and finally, it just started to make me mad. Now, I tend to become enraged and insulted, and at this point it's clear that I'm now overreacting, and it's an issue that *I* need to learn to deal with.
And the woman that died? I don't know. Maybe she *was* struggling alone, desperate for help. Maybe not. I merely find it interesting, and a little troubling, that the transgender community is inclined to make that assumption.