Tag Archives: suicide

On a certain petition…

24 Oct

PLEASE NOTE: I would kindly ask that you read my entire post and my reply in comments at the end before attacking me. I very much see the other side to this issue and don’t automatically claim im right. I do want you to try to see where im coming from before you accuse me of things I am not saying though. Respectful debate is welcome, attacks because you did not fully read are not. I am also a bit sad I have to add this note.

I keep getting sent a petition online about declassifying gender identity as a mental illness. You may have seen it; it’s the one with Jenna saying trans people aren’t sick. I really do understand the intent of the petition but I wanted to bring another perspective.

Firstly, I would say that most trans people would agree that gender identity issues do bring with them a great degree of mental distress. We live in a society that does not accept us, frequently we lose family and friends, have high rates of poverty, and are often the targets of bigotry and violence. This has led to very high rates of depression, anxiety, and other mental illness in the trans community. One need only look at the extremely tragically high suicide rates to see that trans people are suffering as a whole. I think that makes it fair to classify gender dysphoria as a serious contributory factor to mental illness much in the same way that diabetes contributes to a host of associated illnesses. Having gender identity does not automatically cause mental illness but it certainly increases the likelihood that you may experience one.  That alone makes me reject the point of this petition but I have a much bigger issue that really bothers me:

What is wrong with being mentally ill?

Much of the thrust of this petition seems to imply that being associated with mental illness is something to be avoided at all costs. That is an extremely ableist position to my mind. I have dealt with mental illness for years and it does not invalidate me as a person. It is not something that makes me someone you should avoid. Being mentally ill is just a condition I live with much like I live with being diabetic. Seeing my community put out a petition that says there is something wrong with me really bothers me. I have dealt with years of stigma from being trans and I would like to remove that stigma; but it is wrong to stigmatize another community to make us somehow acceptable.

Currently there is a new push to have gender dysphoria treated like cancer, a condition that needs treatment but isn’t a mental illness, but allows us to have coverage. Ask yourself why you are making this distinction and what it says about attitudes towards the mentally ill. Perhaps instead of this petition we could put some working into de-stigmatizing both mental illness and trans identities.  Everyone’s acceptance and success is conditional till everyone is treated with respect and dignity.

The Current Debate on Rape: Doing More

21 Aug

After Todd Akin’s horrible comments on rape recently; the subject has been front and centre in the news and in the debate on twitter, facebook and most social media.  I have never seen the subject so front and centre in the media and honestly, as someone who dealt with childhood sexual assault and a very recent sexual assault, it has become very hard for me to follow the media without dealing with stress and flashbacks. I realized however that I couldn’t avoid it at the moment so I have decided to turn that in to a plea for something more.

In spite of the effect the debate has on me it is a very necessary debate. Attitudes people hold on the subject of rape, especially our legislators and health care providers, need to be questioned and exposed. Unquestioned attitudes on the subject have led to blaming, shaming, and a lack of empathy and understanding. They have also led to something else which is the focus of my blog: a serious lack of services.

After my recent sexual assault many of my PTSD symptoms returned and I needed to seek out services to help me cope and recover. I can tell you from experiences that those services are extremely lacking. I live in one of the better spots to get treatment and still the waiting lists are months. Many people who experience sexual assault need services much faster than that before self-harm, suicide, and various other serious health and personal consequences descend on their lives. Even now months after trying to access services I am still waiting on an appointment just to get a referral to a trauma specialist. Even beyond therapy there is a lack of shelters, a lack of crisis lines and services, and a serious lack of public information and public safety programs to prevent and deal with the sexual assaults.

What can we do? First donate money to your local shelters, sexual assault centres and services, and to education and prevention programs. Secondly, you can volunteer. Most of the services I just mentioned need people to help, staff a crisis line, hand out fliers, help with rides, or any multitude of tasks. Thirdly, if you don’t have money or are able to volunteer many shelters and services can use donations of clothing, food, or toys. Lastly, you can be aware of the local crisis lines and provide an ear for people you know so that you can put them in touch with these services when they need it.

The only one thing I ask before you donate or work with these services is that you make sure they are trans inclusive. Many locations refuse to serve or shelter trans clients and we frequently need these services very badly because many of us lack a support network do to loss of family and friends. Make sure you put your money with services that respect all people.

Don’t let this just be a debate in the media and internet. If this issue is important to you I urge you to do a little more.