Support Systems Can Be Important To Trans Mental Health

By Sabrina Samone

Before the internet and social media, support groups plaid a huge role in the lives of transgender people. Now many can connect online with others going through similar stories world-wide. There’s video chat, messengers, text and if you are close, a life long friendship can be formed. Yet, trans support groups are still very critical to the emotional and mental health of transgender people, no matter what stage of transition. Unlike a support group headed by a therapist, you are amongst peers without much fear of being analyzed. In fact you may not have to say a word at all and feel the benefits of socializing. Across the globe, no matter what country, nationality, religion; where there’s a large group of transgender people, there’s possibly a support group near you. The double-edged sword is that while we are fortunate with greater trans awareness to be able to reach others of shared interest, the traditional medium of support groups across the country are struggling to continue. That would be unfortunate for our community.

Looking back at how I became aware of being transgender, the support I received, the community spirit that was instilled in me at an early start: I feel very fortunate to have had the experiences I’ve had, unlike my partner who did it completely alone. That isn’t a unique story. There are many transgender people who become aware and make the necessary steps to live their authentic lives without any assistance, emotional support, no family or friends to relate too, and even some without much therapy at all. Though I haven’t seen an actual case study on the matter, and not a psychologist or sociologist myself, I have witness the long-term emotional distress, more intense dysphoria and shame associated with being trans with some that received no support through their entire transition.¹ Luckily for many today there is more acceptance than ten years ago, and more awareness. There are growing numbers of supportive parents of transgender youth, along with the beginnings of media representation that can make us feel just a little less alone. Yet, we hear of those happy stories of supportive families, communities, jobs etc., because they are still rare and unique stories to millions of trans people in medium, and small rural towns across the globe.

I have been humbled and moved by my transgender community.

 

When I look back over the years of my transition, and living my truth; the moments that were the lowest for me were when there was no connection to anyone who understood. In a millennium long, long ago, in a small rural football loving, truck driving, tobacco chewing town in South Carolina, I began to live my truth. The initial thought of such a place to come out may cause immediate anxiety. While it was not a walk in the garden by no means, it wasn’t as bad as first thought. As I said I’ve always been fortunate, most of the time, to have a community. There were those that came before me even in that small town, a few transvestites, that were by my side from the first time I began presenting myself. I had that connection, along with being apart of my local lgbt community. It was in that community that my then best gay friend showed up and introduced me to my first trans sister. I remember that day, and remember not knowing it was even possible that I could ever transition to look like the woman I knew I was. I had no clue what transgender was. All I knew at the time was RuPaul. Yet, suddenly this woman who looked like Vanessa Williams, wearing Kenneth Cole thigh high boots, daisy dukes, a midriff shirt and showing ample cleavage, came prancing in my bedroom. I immediately jumped to attention. This was the first person I had ever seen that was transforming, and developing as themselves. It felt like someone was bringing me the answers to my dreams. Thankfully, she was very supportive and wanted to help, not all girls are and that’s unfortunate. I continue to be lucky, and over time we became close friends. She took me to my first doctors appointment and as I developed pass the boundaries of acceptance for the small town of Hartsville, South Carolina, I took off to trans city USA, Atlanta GA.

It was time to blossom

                         Support This Local Trans Support Group

Atlanta allowed me to blossom in the arms of a very united and supportive local trans community. For the first time I met hundreds like me, and learned about what it means to be trans. What I mean is being trans does not always mean you’re an expert on everything trans. I had a lot of education ahead of me and I still find myself remaining open to learning about my community, and myself to this day. At this point, I was in therapy and had the support of a community of trans sisters. Yet, I was still not part of a formal trans support group, exposing me to a wider diversity of our community. I’m ashamed to admit today, that when I met the first trans guy that wanted to get to know me better, I remember being so afraid and nearly homophobic. I would hide from him in public and complain to my friends, asking why does she think I’m a lesbian. This was ignorant I now know, but I make this point because that ignorance still persists in our community amongst ourselves when we are not exposed to the diversity that could easily be overcome through a local transgender support group.

After three years in Atlanta I unfortunately found myself back in that small rural town, where TS still meant a tropical storm. For the first time I didn’t have support, the transvestite girlfriends I did know there had sadly passed away. I performed as a gender illusionist along with gay men who dressed for performance only, and who would ask me why would I do such a horrible thing to my body. I had changed, developed, but the town was the same. My family would try to persuade me to hide my attributes, wear men clothing again in order to keep the towns folks appeased. At first I had a hard time getting a job, and when I did, they also would ask me to “tone it down”. I had no local support. My friends back in Atlanta could not relate and were little help. I resisted, stood my ground for my truth as long as I could, but several months later pressured by jobs, family, no friends that understood or support group, I gave in. I’m a male to female transgender woman, yet I found myself binding to hide my boobs so know one else would be offended and to please my family. Gone was the hair weave, and I began to grow my own hair which at first was a tiny pony tail. My insurance didn’t cover therapy or any transitional care. I was no longer in therapy. I paid out-of-pocket to get my hormones and could only find one pharmacist willing to fill my prescriptions within a thirty mile radius of me. In the gay community, I was the token trans who was only called upon when money was needed to be raised for local AIDS organizations. The spiral of depression was gradual but devastating. In 2002 it would nearly end my life after my first and last, near succesful suicide attempt that left me unconscious for hours. I had to receive blood to live due to a near fatal loss of blood, along with one month under psychiatric observation. At 25, had I had any wisdom to form a support group, been able to attend one, or have others that understood; things may not have happened as they had.

The meaning of community

DONATE TO HELP C.A.T.S.

When you’ve survived a near fatal suicide attempt, it’s then you decide to live. I had to find a way back to myself and love me for me. With the help of therapy I decided to move for my own sanity. I ended up not far, just three hours south in Charleston SC, but what a difference three hours had made.

In 1999, Olivia (read our story with Olivia)², had created C.A.T.S, Charleston Area Transgender Support Group. Though small at the time I first attended, it would be another learning curve as a transgender woman for me. The trans community of Atlanta I had come from placed the highest value on passability, and trans hierarchy. Many I had encountered did not validate the lives of those that transitioned later in life, or who only dressed on occasions due to non-supportive marriages or family. My time back in my hometown that lead to my depression had changed my views on those that could not always express who they are. I now knew from experience how that felt myself and could relate. Those first meetings, I was often the only trans person of color, but eventually that would change when William, a trans man of color who was married to a trans woman befriended me. Through William, I was educated on trans masculinity and had my first exposure to trans/trans relationships. I met two girls with one that remains a close friend to this day, Jenna, who was the first transgender lesbian I had ever met as well. Again, the circles I had known prior did not include transgender women that didn’t like men, and at first this was a delicate topic for us. I had to come to terms with my own internal homophobia, and be educated that my transness was my gender and not my sexuality. Jenna was the first to help me understand that sexuality varies among trans people, and adds to the beauty of our diversity.

After a year of attending the support group, I had made the close friends I was going to make, and kept in touch with Mrs. Olivia over the years. I would drop in and out over time. As the next few years passed,  the directors and members of the group would change. Mrs. Olivia had left due to illness, some good changes some bad. The most productive were during the time of Amy Garboti and the current director Lee Anne LeLand. During this time the support group would grow from just a dozen older transitioning, white trans women to be more welcoming to trans people color, trans men, non-binary and parents of transgender youth. That dozen grew over time to hundreds in the community, even creating new groups for trans men, non-binary persons and for those younger than 18. This community group that educated me on diversity, has itself become a beacon of diversity for Charleston’s trans community.

The effects on the trans community of South Carolina by this group and it’s network of groups, would be an understatement if I even attempted to try to explain. In the years I’ve been witness to their work, the group has gone from etiquette, make-up and hair classes to real issues that we face. It’s here you will get a list of health care providers, list of friendly businesses, help with name changes and legal documentation and join a network of trans people throughout the area and state. Even among those who no longer attend regularly, there remains a supportive network. They have helped many find work, therapist or simply a friend that understands. Saving countless from the tragic depths of loneliness and depression. I’ve witness people who for the first time presenting themselves, full of fear and anxiety,  become confident and beautiful. It has inspired some to get politically involved and now work in local politics, business and it was at the table of one of those C.A.T.S meetings, that the proposal of me blogging about trans issues was born. That inspiration is now leading to my dream of my own magazine for my community. They have grown, adapted and served the trans community along with other members of the Palmetto Transgender Alliance³, to serve the trans community of South Carolina. Now they need our help.

We should always pay it forward

Save a Support Group

If you follow TMPlanet, you’ve probably noticed that I’m not one to have many ‘about me’ type of blog post. I don’t speak that often of my story, or get too personal. I’m actually shy, and withdrawn despite what many think. This is not about just helping friends. I haven’t been to a meeting probably in a year. After a lot of tribulations personally over the past couple of years, and the development of my dream of this magazine; many have suggested a kickstarter or gofundme. I have shared fund me campaigns on our social media pages for anyone in our community who asked, and I was seriously considering one for TMP until I heard that this local support group that has done so much, needed some love back from the community. Now, this is bigger than TMP, or C.A.T.S or any individual trans person or entity. This is about the countless trans people who still feel alone. This is for those that heart drops to the pits of their stomach,  as they walk out that front door as themselves for the very first time. Those wanting a place where they are welcomed as their true self. This is about keeping a safe place for many in the years to come. This is about being able to meet people who knows what if feels like to be discriminated against, harassed, and also the joys of that first T or E shot.  It’s about the next Sabrina, who as a trans woman of color can come to a place of diversity and be welcomed, and where she herself can learn more about the diversity of her trans community.

This is about love. Love for my sisters and brothers of C.A.T.S and all the trans support groups on the ground that are making a difference in so many trans people’s lives. Will you please consider helping with their expenses, or share this blog post so someone who can will. Also, support your local trans support groups, or start one. Let’s make sure the next generation continues to have a place of love to come and feel safe.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DISCUSS THIS OR ANY OTHER TOPIC ON OUR SITE, PLEASE JOIN THE CONVERSATION ON  THE TMP FORUM


  1. Trans Mental Health: There can be isolation, hiding and secrets, which can lead to depression and anxiety.  Transgender adults are much more likely to have suicidal thoughts, with 50% of adults reporting some suicidal ideation.  There seem to be two paths that people take early on: either one tries to hide their inner feeling of being the wrong sex and “passes” for what looks like a boy or girl, or one is incapable of hiding and presents as either a tom-boyish girl or a feminine boy.  Either path is fraught with problems for one’s emotional development.  The second scenario – of presenting as gender non-conforming is known to elicit harsh responses from society.  This is true for non-transgender people as well and many gay men and women experience this early on.
  2. Dear Trans Family…Will You Still Love Me When I’m No Longer Young and Beautiful?  Is the story and support of Olivia covered by TransMusePlanet, one of the founders of the first transgender support groups that is still in existence. Charleston Area Transgender Support Group, known as C.A.T.S. still operates today with several splinter groups for transgender men, non-binary and trans youth and most still attend the main meetings which can have an average of 50 attendees.
  3. Under Palmetto Transgender Alliance, the support groups are connected for greater awareness and reach for the states transgender community through their network of support.
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The Inspiring beginning of life as a Gay Trans-Man in Carolina

Guest Post by Chad Smith

 

Growing up as a kid, I was always that ‘tomboy’. I would rather play kickball, soccer, or baseball with the guys, rather than sit around doing each other’s hair and talking with some girls. This being said, I’m sure my parents had some speculations starting young. My mom would make sly comments saying, “I’m wondering who has longer shorts on: My husband (wearing booty shorts), or my daughter (baggy basketball shorts)?” It was comments like these that made me scared growing up to be anything but ‘different’.

Middle school was the hardest time. But I mean, it’s the most awkward stage of a human being, I’m sure it’s hard for everybody. I had to start wearing a sports bra. Even though my chest hadn’t really presented itself yet, we had to change for PE. When things did start to happen, I was glad I had the sports bra instead of a padded one. I could still try to hide my chest. Later on I started getting in trouble for doing drugs and such. It was the hardest time for me and I hadn’t even realized it yet. But this was the time I truly was trying to find myself.

Well high school came, and things were fine. I became a pretty decent popular girl, known for her athletics and musicality, bright personality and a sense of humor. But what nobody knew was that she never felt more dead in her life.

By junior year, I cut my hair and came out as bisexual. I started dating girls, and everybody assumed I was a lesbian. I guess I started to think that too. I had dated another popular musical athletic guy the previous year, and so this changed sparked a lot of talk. But ya know I was the same person really. My parents, Mom especially, were not accepting at all. That’s what made everything so hard, knowing that being me is wrong in my parent’s eyes.

Finally by senior year, I started putting ‘Chad’ on my instrument cases in band. That was the only place I truly felt safe in high school, even to the point where I skipped lunch and just went to the band room to practice. I knew that this was the only place I could really be me. By the end of the year, my band director asked if she should be referring to me as Chad. It was the end of the year, so I felt no need for the sudden change. I was not yet out to really anybody, I had wanted to wait for anything.

A week before graduation, my Mom confronted me about being a lesbian, or transgender. I told her, “I go by Chad. I am transgender, and I am your son.” She cried and yelled at me to inform my Dad. To my shock, when I stood there in tears telling him what I had said, he came up to hug me. He doesn’t agree, but he knows that this is me, and regardless of being gay or straight this is not a choice of mine. After graduation, I made a Face book page for the REAL me. I deleted that stupid girl page. I deleted the almost 1,000 friends I had on there, and started over. My first friends were the few friends I told, and then slowly throughout the years following, people from high school. It’s funny; I’m even friends with my old band director.

I went to college, and showed up living my life as the male I know myself to be. My classmates have no clue until I become close with them. The only people that do know are those that are in the band with me. People slowly found out about my transition. Some it took until our final band rehearsal, where I did underwear run in my bright purple sports bra and boxers, to know about my life. But once that happened, more questions sparked.

I had just been in a relationship with a guy in the band, a gay cis guy. People that didn’t know just assumed I was the same. But now that they knew, their thoughts became more askew. I’m a female to male transgender now dating a guy? Dating a GAY guy? It is so different and unique; it was scary for some to think about. But psh, they don’t even know how it feels to be that person. I went into college calling myself a straight male. I present myself as that, even now. I wear my hats backwards or tilted to the side, black or dark skater-type shirts, and nice fitting pants, my voice slightly high due to low testosterone levels, but it’s not that ‘gay tone’. People would never know that I’m transgender or gay! But once they get a sense of one or the other, things become different.

The scariest thing was coming back after that first year of college, and informing my friends that I had dated and slept with gay guys the past year. No words but, “Are you serious?” were muttered from their mouths. I never thought that my lifestyle could affect others so deeply. But it was in those moments that I realized this is real life. Yes others like me exist in this world, but it’s such a rarity. And to be honest, I hate that. I hate that my friends are scared for me, because they are afraid people are going to hurt me for being different. If this world just became more caring or understanding, we wouldn’t have to live in fear constantly.

But now, this being about my third year living as a straight up male, I can’t be any happier. I perform as a drag king, and met my lovely boyfriend on the same stage that I perform on, but he performs as a drag queen. It’s different, it’s unique, but it’s life.

A lot of people hear bits and pieces of my story, and say I’m so brave for being me. But nobody should be scared to be yourself. I lived in a house full of fear, but when I realized I was okay for being me, I let nothing stop me. The past few years and made me stronger and stronger, and I hope for anybody transiting or coming out as anything, they realize that it is okay. No matter what, be you. Because no matter what you are not alone.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DISCUSS THIS OR ANY OTHER TOPIC ON OUR SITE, PLEASE JOIN THE CONVERSATION ON  THE TMP FORUM

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Self Defense: Transforming Fear into Empowerment


A Guest Post
By
Keagan Delaney

A little bit about me.¹

I’ve always known I was different, every trans person knows this feeling. I was fortunate enough to have parents who believed in freedom of individuality, and they had no negative things to say about my sexuality or my gender. Once we got passed the, “Is this a phase?”, part.

I was first introduced to martial arts at the age of 8, and have spent a good part of my life studying different styles both in the formal way; in dojo under the supervision of a sensei ( a martial arts teacher), and in my personal/independent study. I also studied the philosophy behind these arts, and developed a way of life that I call, a Boshido Buddhism. Living by the 7 virtues of bushido, the way of the warrior; courage, compassion, honor, honesty, duty, justice and respect, with the Zen principles of Buddhism, as much as possible.

Self-defense to me, is not just a way to get out of a dangerous situation. It instills a confidence, and ability which enables you to avoid these situations altogether. By having the knowledge to protect yourself, you exude a sense of security. Some people call it energy, some call it chi, some simply say it’s body posture, but whatever it is, it gives potential attackers the idea that you are a bad target, which is what self-defense is all about.

My workshops are heavily influenced by Krav Maga, Aikido and Jujitsu, the focus being to be as efficient as possible. They are comprised of the fastest, most effective moves of many styles, combined with highly aggressive counter attacks that neutralize your attacker as quickly as possible. We learn tactics of deflection of the opponent’s energy, and disarming those with weapons. We incorporate wrist locks and leverage techniques, as well as hand grabs, knife-hand strikes, and knife- gun take-away. In close quarter combat, the most common techniques practiced are throwing an opponent. By using their weight, and momentum to our advantage, as well as vital pressure-points, and escape techniques; to free yourself from a grapple in various situations. These techniques are effective no matter the size, or strength difference between you, and your opponent, and thus are highly effective as self-defense techniques.

Pointers to readers who are unable to get to a workshop, or another type of self-defense class. The three key things to keep in mind. 

Attackers need:

Intent: a reason they believe is justifiable to attack you². Be it hate crimes or muggings, they will have some reason. Believe it or not, this is something we have some influence over. They will target you based on two things, Risk and Reward. Is the risk of injury, or capture worth the potential or perceived reward? Ways we can control this, don’t visually display valuables; laptops, expensive bags, jewelry should not be carried openly. If you must carry it with you have it concealed. Doing this will lower the perceived reward. If you have mace, or pepper spray, or some other self-defense item, that is legal to do so, carry that in a visible location. Get a brightly colored pepper spray, and keep it in a visible, easy to reach location. This can be used as a deterrent by increasing the level or risk to your attacker. Higher risk, lower reward, makes you a bad target. 

A Means to Attack: This could be a weapon, intimidation, or perceived advantage of physical violence. This also, we have some control over. Just like increasing the risk; visible deterrent devices can lower the perceived advantage. Staying out of arms reach of persons you don’t know, or who seem threatening, can decrease the ability to attack you. Staying calm, holding your head up, making eye contact, holding a steady, even verbal tone can decrease the potential attacker’s level of intimidation. Keeping an even tone, and a neutral stance, can also help deescalate verbal confrontations. Even if your heart is beating 1000 times a minute, attackers who feel in control of the situation through intimidation will feel more confident in their success of physical violence. (This is not to say staring down every aggressive person will keep you out of conflict. But if a confrontation arises, these strategies can help ease the tension, and reach peaceful resolution.)


Opportunity: This is a place and/or time to attack you. This is where we have the most control. Along with keeping potential out of arms reach, being aware of your surroundings is the first, and most important step to keeping yourself safe. In order to be attacked, you need to be in a place that is close enough to a busy area to have been noticed, and is easier to escape in, but also secluded enough to not have many, if any witnesses. Alleyways, parking garages, parks, and parking lots are great places to ambush someone. Avoid obviously dangerous areas, these are typically alleyways with little or no lighting, high crime areas, or places where there is a lot of drinking. When parking, and while arriving or leaving at night, park as near to an entrance near you as possible, and in well lite areas. When walking at night especially alone, do not walk with headphones on, this greatly decreases your situational awareness, and makes you a very easy target. Most importantly, trust your gut. If a place feels unsafe, if a person feels dangerous, if you feel like you are being watched or followed, don’t put yourself into that situation. If you are walking and feel unsafe, call a friend, being on the phone with another human being, (even if its fake) makes you a riskier target.

My last two points, if your attacker is only after your material possessions, give them up. Entering any physical confrontation, no matter how skilled, has risk, and no material object in this world is worth dying for.


If the attacker wants your life. You have to put your human instincts to the side, and be willing to injure, and/or kill your attacker. If it’s between your life and theirs, choose survival. Many people, even if it is unconscious, are ingrained to not hurt another human being. If you hesitate, it could kill you. Practice and confidence can be the difference between you getting home safely, or not.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DISCUSS THIS OR ANY OTHER TOPIC ON OUR SITE, PLEASE JOIN THE CONVERSATION ON  THE TMP FORUM



  1. Kegan Delaney is a trans advocate, martial arts, and self defense instructor. You can follow him on his self defense page, Disengagement & Empowerment Group, and on Twitter @dearthair_beag
  2. Trans People are often the target of hate crimes. The epidemic of trans women of color that are killed is why Nov. 20 is National Transgender Day of Remembrance.

 

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Blessing the Children: Yes, It’s for Transpeople Too.

Lynnea Urania Stuart

You can see the difference in their eyes.  It’s something children don’t understand.  But they feel it.  Adults usually don’t understand it either.  Blessing children can be a cathartic exercise for us.  It’s especially so for us who are trans.  In fact it’s a tradition practiced by transwomen traceable over thousands of years.

Blessing is a lost art for most people.  It’s perhaps the most often ignored aspect of trans living, partly because most adults don’t bless children and partly because most people won’t believe transpeople can be spiritual.  But make no mistake:  within every transperson a profoundly sacred place exists that reaches to the Divine as an essence beyond our capacity to grasp.  But when it wells up from within the heart it can offer healing and even life-changing reconciliation.

The place of blessing in trans experience has been noted in the work of Hijra in India.  Much of how bands of Hijra have existed have relied upon begging.  But the Kama Sutra tells of a “third sex,” a people whose presence at weddings may be regarded as fortunate.  To this day Hijra attend weddings, serve as midwives, and bless children.1

The British journalist Zia Jaffrey wrote about the Hijra in her book The Invisibles: A Tale of the Eunuchs of India.  Ms. Jaffrey is not herself transgender but became familiar with Hijra society and history during her stay in the Subcontinent.  She recorded the following blessing that survives, possibly from the time of Ram, but evidencing a Muslim influence also:

 

“Lord of the Universe:

because of You,

Ram was born. 

 

Because of You,

Ram was born. 

The instruments are playing in Adhvaryu.

 

Lord of the Universe,

because of You,

all the money is being thrown around

and the one who steals is stealing it.

 

Lord of the Universe,

because of You,

Ram was born.

 

And why was Ram born? 

Ram was born

because Ram was also to die.”2

 

It may seem weird to our Western sensibilities to think of this as a blessing.  After all, the vast majority of transpeople aren’t Hijra and have no ties to Hijra culture..  But a closer look at what has been a vital aspect to Hijra practice speaks to our own vitality as well.  It makes sense to consider what intentions exist in the practice of blessing.

In its most basic sense, blessing offers acceptance, warmth, reconciliation, and makes peace.  That’s a boon for parents and their children.  When we commit to transition, children often feel left out of the decision or may feel abandoned.  Blessing children offers much reassurance that the parent continues that current of love and closeness.  When conflict has devastated a family, a simple act of blessing can do much to restore those natural family ties.

Blessing also awakens to wonder and cultivates innocence.  To bless means to draw upon one’s own deepest dreams, those parts of you that awaken the most profound awe.  Innocence isn’t something lost forever once a child realizes right or wrong and certainly isn’t lost when they begin to question about sexuality.  It’s about awakening to dreams as a part of living, and bringing the wonderment of the true grandeur of the universe into daily life.  Blessing provides a beautiful avenue for doing this.

To lightworkers, blessing also provides a path for the transference of energies that may impact dreaming patterns and whatever faculties may be connected therewith.  This perhaps is why the practice of blessing was so esteemed in the Bible.  Even Esau who despised his birthright desired greatly his father’s blessing, indicating that there must have been something of great value offered thereby.3

Take a look at the image above from a Medieval Kabbalistic woodcut that resembles a Vulcan salute from Star Trek held up to a mirror.  Leonard Nimoy actually patterned that gesture from this.  It’s the Jewish “Berakhah Kohannim” or “Blessing of the Priests.” Mr. Nimoy adapted it after he saw his rabbi using the gesture.4 But people may also find it strange why this gesture should be used for anything, especially a blessing.

But look at the negative space formed by the hands.  You might perceive the hands forming an outline of a dove in flight from the one who blesses toward the one being blessed.  The thumbs and forefingers form the outline of the dove’s tail and the parted third and fourth fingers form the outline of its wings.  It may be described as the Yahu, the Sacred Dove of Sumeria.  It may be thought of as the dove associated with the Ruach Haqqadosh or Holy Spirit.  The Berakhah Kohannim was also placed level to the mouth after the manner: “And Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people, and he blessed them.”5

In context of these things, we might offer this adaption from the Hijra Blessing of Children to correspond more closely to Western sensibilities:

 

“Lord of the Universe:

because of You,

Light walked among us. 

 

Because of You,

Light was born. 

The instruments are playing

in the Holy cities.

 

Lord of the Universe,

because of You,

the treasuries of generosity are opened

and people give to the needy.

 

Lord of the Universe,

because of You,

Light was born.

 

And why was Light born? 

Light was born

because Light was also to die.

 

And why did Light die?

Light died

So Light could be kindled

in the eyes of a child who wonders.

 

(add any special words you choose)

 

Y’varekhékha Adonái v’yíshmerèkha.

Ya‘ér Adonái panáiv eléikha víchunnèkha.

Yassá Adonái panáiv eléikha

v’yasém l’khá shalóm.

 

May Adonai bless you and guard you.

May Adonai make His face to shine unto you and be gracious to you.

May Adonai lift His face unto you

and grant to you peace.”

 

Perhaps that renders the idea of blessing children a bit less obscure.  I expanded upon the intentions of the Hijra Blessing of Children to fit Western culture and added the common blessing from the TaNaKh or Hebrew Old Testament with translation to English immediately following it.6 In this you might picture the face of a Divine Father who smiles, raising His face toward the child from one downcast from rejection toward one whom He accepts as a newly found friend.

This is but one of many examples of blessing.  By all means write and memorize your own after the manner of your own spirituality.  Blessing children isn’t just for those traditionally religious or even Abrahamists.  It’s a universal practice, enacted in forms peculiar to culture and aspirations.  The essence of blessing isn’t in formulations but the act because when you bless you also commit to the blessing yourself.  If the Divine becomes the child’s friend, so must you; a commitment to peace that binds you together from generation to generation.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DISCUSS THIS OR ANY OTHER TOPIC ON OUR SITE, PLEASE JOIN THE CONVERSATION ON  THE TMP FORUM


REFERENCES:

Image:  A version of a famous old Jewish Kabbalist woodcut of the Berakhah Kohannim, artist unknown.  Image recurs in many textbooks on Kabbalah and is public domain.  Though the thumbs don’t quite touch in this print they do in actual practice.

  1. “Tritiya-Prakriti: People of the Third Sex (1)” Galva-108 Gay & Lesbian Vaishnava Association, accessed July 13, 2017. http://www.galva108.org/single-post/2014/05/13/TritiyaPrakriti-People-of-the-Third-Sex-1.
  2. Jaffrey, Zia. “The Invisibles: A Tale of the Eunuchs of India” (Pantheon Books, Random House, NY.  1991)  ISBN: 0-679-41577-7, pp. 266-267.
  3. Genesis 27: 34-41.
  4. Rabbi Yonassan Gershom. “The Jewish Origin of the Vulcan Salute” Patheos, May 24, 2009, accessed July 13, 2017. http://www.patheos.com/Resources/Additional-Resources/The-Jewish-Origin-of-the-Vulcan-Salute
  5. Leviticus 9:22, quoted in Kaplan, Aryeh. “Sefer Yetzirah:  The Book of Creation, In Theory and Practice” (Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC, San Francisco, 1997) ISBN: 0-87728-855-0, p. 36.
  6. Numbers 6:24-26. Transliteration from “Masoretic Text” with accents supplied by the author for the reader, primary accents denoted with the acúte accent and secondary accents with the gràve accent.  The translation thereof is the author’s.
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20 Trans People Talk About What Dysphoria Feels Like

A simple wiki definition given for gender dysphoria: ‘The condition of feeling one’s emotional, and psychological identity as male or female to be opposite to one’s biological sex.” While the definition sounds simple enough, it’s far from being so simple for millions of trans people. In fact it’s one of  the greatest factors in the high numbers of suicides within our community, along with social prejudice, lack of access to fair employment, housing, and opportunities.
I recently asked some of our most devoted Friends of TMP to share with us, and our cis allies in their own words, what dysphoria feels like to them. While America debate our bathroom use and speculate on our intentions, let trans people tell you how trans people feel.

“Dysphoria for me is living on a small Caribbean island, and everybody knows who you are. When it comes to having an open relationship with a man, it becomes very difficult. Even though I am passable, it’s hard to find a man who is comfortable dating a trans woman, openly in public.”
Tori Culmer

“Dysphoria is something I’ve never not  had. Growing up, I hated looking in a mirror due to it being disassociated from my reflection, and my body…still don’t. There is still utter disgust at seeing my body in a mirror, and panic when out, when I have to use a toilet, and paranoia that they can tell I’m binding.”
Tiernan Tomlinson

“Dysphoria for me is like….I’m being crushed. I can’t breathe…can’t feel…can’t empathize. These feelings of hopelessness, and despair are overwhelming.
I get it really bad at work, it’s fucking terrifying. I don’t really wanna go into it. I can become very violent. I’ve not yet started medically transitioning, and really want to start HRT. I’m waiting on uncertain letters, from uncertain doctors, in uncertain times. All I can do is wait.”
Nathan Greig


“Dysphoria is like an out of body experience. I feel lost, confused; like I don’t know what I’m doing. I feel so doubtful of who I am. I know I’m definitely not a man, but feel so far from a woman. It makes me look at all the things I hate about myself: my too-wide shoulders, my too-small hips, my too-small breasts. It makes me hyper aware, comparing myself to every girl who walks by.
It kills me.”
Anais Majewski

“It was hard for me because I knew I wasn’t lesbian completely. I hate my boobs, but I was willing to carry my partners baby because, she doesn’t have the equipment, being a trans woman. We got engaged, and though we can’t afford our surgeries yet, we still give each other the freedom. Instead of calling her ‘Brandon’, like her parents do. In front of them I call her ‘Abby’, she’s my wife, and I’m a pregnant daddy, not a mommy.”
Jaimmy Jury

“Dysphoria feels like a bad pair of fitted pants. You look at yourself in the mirror, and your not happy. Your initial thought is to remove the pants because you look bad in them. For me, that’s what it feels like in my skin. I was born female at birth, and I hate looking at my chest everyday. I bind all the time, and I can not step out of the house without wearing one. I won’t feel OK in my body until I have top surgery.”
Aiden DiRe

“My dysphoria for what’s between my legs is the worst. I’m not able to get surgery to fix it yet, and everyday feels like torture. On my most dysphoric days, I feel like ‘Wesley from the Princess Bride’, when the machine was turned up to 50 in the ‘Pit of Despair,’ and like Wesley, the only thing that keeps me going on those days is the love that I have for my girlfriend.”
Regina V. Gallico

“It’s definitely gotten so much easier since time has passed. I’ve learned a lot. I won’t always pass to everyone, and that’s okay. If I look feminine sometimes, that’s okay too. I’m kind of feminine for a trans man, and at first it was so embarrassing, and uncomfortable, but I’ve really come to embrace it, because we are all  unique parts of a large community. I used to have terrible dysphoria. Some days, I would even wear two binders at once, (don’t do that, it’s not safe), but now I don’t even need to wear one most days. I’m so much happier now.”
John Neu

I get a lot of specific dysphoria. Especially over my voice, feet, and hands. I have to really work to remind myself my extremities are proportional, and do not make me stand out any more than any other tall cis woman. There are lots of cis women, even popular celebrities, and my cis sister, that have deep voices. I worked hard at changing my voice, and this is as good as it’s going to get. Sometimes it just gets overwhelming though, and it feels like I’m being suffocated.”
Erin R. Alexander

“Dysphoria, for me, is hard to describe. In pre-HRT days, I really didn’t know what was going on with me. I just felt disconnected from myself. I could never really relate to my guy friends, and I wanted to be included in the activities my girl friends did. When I tried befriending another girl, she would interpret it as flirting, sometimes to the point where they thought I was creepy, because I was always enthusiastic about hanging out with them. I drank a lot in my 20’s, and did a lot of cocaine. It wasn’t until I was 33 that everything started to make sense, especially after a dream I had, where I saw myself as a woman, and felt so empowered, and full of life. HRT did away with a ton of that dysphoria, but now it’s more specific. Now, I sometimes feel like I’m some kind of alien consciousness stuck in a human host that doesn’t reflect who I know myself to be. I’m so much happier now though, despite those moments.”
River Laurie

“Dysphoria for me feels a bit like this photo, it is confusing or was for me. I still look a little like ‘The Hunchback of Notre-Dame’, cause I slumped my body a bit so my t-shirt would fall from my chest. Also walking against the wind was not cool, I’m talking pre binder time, and since there were no packers, I also stuffed myself with socks, in the crotch that is. I am all post op, and still can feel it at times, but it is less invading, and less depressing. Like some women here, yes I wanted to have kids. I mourned that lost opportunity, but now at 55, I’ve accepted it. When the dysphoria got less, and surgery certainly did help, my mind opened more, and I could appreciate being trans a lot more because it also gave me things like inner strength. I am more open to things I don’t understand right away, and more of this.”
Sam Omen

“I’m 28, MtF pre-everything. I’ve always been like this. My mumsie, a war veteran, has always been supportive of me. We have mainly lived in ‘ironclad red states’, due to the cost of living being within the  budget as it were. In an effort to protect me though, considering what I am, my mumsie home schooled me entirely. She is extremely sharp witted with a massive intellect, so my whole life has on the one hand been like a giant 28 year college degree. She has taught me a fiercely strong faith, assuring me that God loves me, and that the hate that is spewed at trans people is a corruption of Jesus’s teaching, and to treat all people with love. I will say this though, I have no friends except for mumsie, because of what I am. I have never been on a date because of what I am. I have never had sex, or one bit of a romantic relationship because of what I am. Dysphoria is the reason that I don’t fear hell, because I already know what hell is like. Hell and Dysphoria are the same thing, because in the words of Jesus on the encounter film “there is no love in hell, no kindness, no happiness. Hell is torment, a torment that eats at you from the inside.”…in closing , let those who would raise cane against this post look upon me, what they consider to not be human or even a woman.”
Grace A. Ashcraft

“My dysphoria, means boys will never date me because I haven’t had any surgeries. Dating is impossible, because I always have to throw out a disclaimer for what they’re really getting into. Trans pride feels more like a defective label, since I’m never good enough for anyone.”
Jaelyn A. Harris


“What Dysphoria feels like for you? For me it’s the knowing that I’m not truly seen, like I”m constantly wearing a disguise. It hits me hardest when I’m perfectly content, and happy in what I’m doing, and then I catch my face reflected in a glass or a mirror, and I’m suddenly reminded of how I’m seen; that my face is that of a man. It’s honestly completely jarring, then I’m suddenly aware of it,
and I think everyone is starring at me, and I want to just vanish from existence.”
Lianne Hobbs

“Dysphoria sucks!!! As a 43 year old FtM pre-op everything, it’s harder some days than others. It comes out of the blue on the weirdest of times. Some days it doesn’t bother me at all. My triggers are also pretty strange. Sometimes going by women’s clothes in a department store, someone not calling me by my preferred name, and or pronouns, or just knowing that I am still menstruating sets me off, etc. I cannot wait for the day that I am completely post-op. It gets so bad in fact, that I wish I could cut myself open, and walk out of this false shell in which my total male soul dwells. I have a support group in which I attend, and very close friend, an MtF pre-op everything, that helps me deal with things. Love them all dearly. As I have people who love, accept, and or understand me. I feel as I could rule the world. Thank you for giving me a chance to voice my side of this issue.”
Mykel T. McCown

“I’m thankful I don’t endure too many episodes of being mis-gendered anymore. When I do, it’s some family members that just simply refuse, and it feels like someone just snuck up behind me and slammed me with a baseball bat. I literally jump, and feel like I’ve been knocked in the middle of an NFL stadium, full of people, bare naked. I hate it with a passion.”
Sabrina Samone, TMP


“This past fall, I let my hair grow again. It triggered quite a bit of dyshhoria. I wrote about it on my ‘Every Day Trans‘.
blog ‘
C. J. Levine

“Dysphoria used to just be this overwhelming feeling that everything is wrong, and if I could just remove myself from this shell it could all be ok. It used to be rage, and self loathing, depression, and self harm. Since treatment, and for the six months of HRT, so far it’s been more manageable.  The single most wonderful day of my life so far was when I got this cut, and color last Friday. I cried so much. It was the very first time that I could clearly see Alexia in the mirror. The very first time, I didn’t worry about passing, or how anyone else in the world perceived me. I saw a beautiful woman looking back at me. Now I have that moment. Now I know my truth. It feels like a little lantern I can hold up against the daily dysphoria. I’m confident that I’ll eventually have enough little lanterns that the dysphoria will become just a tiny nuisance.”
Alexia L. Partridge

“Dysphoria is something I haven’t had much of recently. Yet, the times I feel it are on the rare everyone is starring at my chest, and that they see me as female because of it. Also, I feel it when someone is extra “bro-y” to me. That’s more with random people who don’t know me though. I guess the way my dysphoria shows itself now is that I don’t feel like I fit into male or female anymore, and I get flustered when someone asks what I am, mostly online because I live as male in day to day. Even when people say I’m FtM. I used to say that, but now I feel trans accurately describes me. It’s like something at the tip of your tongue you can’t express.”
occasions I don’t have my binder. I feel like…
Remy Fecteau

“Dysphoria has caused me to hate myself much of my life, and self harm in more ways than one should from physically hurting myself. Doing things to sabotage my own life; to make things even worst for myself, and has kept me hiding away from people all my life. I kept myself at a distance
from almost everyone, though am taking steps to try to change my social anxieties, there’s always going to be issues with that thing downstairs so long as it remains there, so it doesn’t matter who I have in my life, or what activities I fill my life with, the pain I experience with living with a part that doesn’t belong. A part of me will always be that thing to cause me to walk the edge of a chasm. So many countless times I thought, if only I can just do it, be rid of it, from cutting it off to smashing it, already tried, and failed several attempts, then I could finally get on with my life, and breath a sigh of relief, if I survive. The only thing keeping me from being rid of it myself, is knowing if I did, then I would never have any hope of being complete and that could be just as bad as living with the damn thing. If I’m on the estrogen, I am less likely to have thoughts of self destruction, than those times I was not taking it, but still every so often I still get those moments where I feel things will never change. A feeling of deep hopelessness, and that I will never be able to be completely at peace with myself. Someday I hope to be truly happy in my own skin, be able to see myself, every part of me and love it all, and also perhaps allow myself to be loved as well. There’s that dream, I still hold onto that things will be right, that I will look down or look at myself in the mirror and smile, not just my face but every part of my being will shine, no more personal dysphoria, no more fears out there, no more needing to hide anything about me.
Megan Roberts

“Dysphoria leaves it’s mark with me daily. I’m reminded in every corner of my life, that I can’t carry my  own child. My body wasn’t designed to nurture life, as my natal-female friends were. I have to fight back tears anytime I read about a friend whose expecting, or weddings, or dreams, and the only light I can see in those moments, is the reflection in the mirror.”
Jennifer R. Stevens

 

 

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