When a pebble is dropped in still water the ripples expand across the surface growing larger and larger. Today I am going to ask each of us, who feels able to, to become a little pebble.
Just before my surgery Janey and I discussed the high rate of suicide within the transgender community with Sim Courtie on BBC Radio Wiltshire. The latest statistics show 48% of transgender people attempt suicide before the age of 25. This compares to a figure of 23% among the general population in the same age range.
There are ways we can significantly reduce this figure. In fact, we can almost eradicate it. Statistics have proven that 93% of transgender suicide attempts could be avoided if the transgender individual felt safe, accepted and supported by their family and friends. Teenage years are problematic and stressful at the best of times, but when an individual is faced with the feelings of rejection, isolation and degradation because of their gender identity they are even more vulnerable.
The families of transgender people need support as much as we do. They may not feel the anguish of dysphoria or face the life-changing surgeries and psychological processes as we do but they are being taken on the journey of transition along with us. That cannot be easy.
We may have to wait a long time for our various therapies but they are out there and available to us. Who does a parent turn to when a daughter becomes a son? Who is there to offer understanding and support to a child whose dad is now another mum? What support is given to our partners? To support us there has to be support for our families as and when they need it.
In my time as a support group organizer I have been asked too many times by a parent, a partner, and children the following questions: – “What can I do?” “Who will listen to me?” “Is it my fault?” I believe our families deserve better than this, much better than this. We have to find some way of offering counselling, peer support and networking so there is someone our family members can turn to.
As part of my transition I regularly attend a Gender Identity Clinic in Exeter. On the walls of the waiting room are various posters for the different groups offering support to MtF, FtM, Non-Binary, Trans with disabilities and trans youth. There is nothing at all for our families. This needs to be changed so that the needs of supporting family are recognized. By supporting them they are able to support us and that suicide rate will fall.
As a group STGG and TransSwindon will always welcome our supportive family and friends. We value our allies. Every time a supporter comes to our meetings I see a difference and a greater understanding. I hope they feel as much a part of our community as the transgender members. By working together, we are making a small but valuable dent on that 48%. By making that small difference, the little pebble, the effects ripple outward to the wider community. So if we can be a little pebble, all of us can make a difference that can be lifesaving.
© JG Farmer Litt.D. 2016