All too often, the transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary community deals with a significant amount depression and anxiety. When comparing the general population to the transgender community, the percentage of folks who deal with mental health issues goes from 6.7 percent to 50 percent. This staggering statistic is due to the discrimination, stigma, lack of acceptance, and the abuse they face on a regular basis. As the spouse of a transgender woman, I have witnessed first hand how damaging this kind of mistreatment really is.
At this point in my life I spend the majority of my time with folks from the transgender community. Through the process of helping to run a transgender community center, I have become very close to the people that we service, and they have become more like family that anything else. Their experiences of intolerance and inequality are heartbreaking. It is no wonder that the rates of depression and anxiety are so high. If every cisgender bigot had the opportunity to listen to some of their stories of discrimination and abuse, the world just might be a more accepting place. Then perhaps the depression statistics could be lowered to normal numbers.
> “"WE ALL JUST WANT TO BE ACKNOWLEDGED AND ACCEPTED FOR WHO WE ARE.”
When my wife has to withstand intolerant and narrow-minded people, it sends her right down the dysphoria hole. The last time a cisgender friend of ours proclaimed to us at a party that there were only two genders it took her weeks to recover. Leaving me with the task of trying to pull her out of it, while also feeling like our message of gender acceptance is falling on deaf ears. This particular depressive state was hard to shake off. We all just want to be acknowledged and accepted for who we are. My wife and I were under the assumption that she had that from this group of people, so to find out that there is still so much learning that needs to be done was disappointing. Then as usual I am left to fight with her dysphoria.
I like to think that we are educating everyone that we come in contact with. However my wife’s view is that she is constantly fighting. It took me a day or two to see it from her point of view, but I totally get it. She feels as though she needs to fight for acceptance to be able to exist. In a world that tells her that she is wrong and belongs in a psych ward, looking through that lens, I totally understand where she is coming from. My view is that people are just uneducated and do not know any better. If you bring home a dog from the pound and expect it to know how to sit, you are going to be very disappointed. I just assume every dog needs to be trained, while she thinks that a three-year-old dog should know how to do that by now.
> "THE TRANSGENDER COMMUNITY DEALS WITH SO MUCH ADVERSITY ALREADY, WHY DO WE NEED TO MAKE IT WORSE?”
The current political climate in this country has stirred up a hate in people that I have never seen before. To say that it is scary is an understatement. The transgender community deals with so much adversity already, why do we need to make it worse? In my opinion it is because our society has painted these people to be abnormal and not like everyone else. Even with all the science-based studies out there, you can’t seem to convince anyone that transgender folks are just like everyone else. And I just cannot help but to be offended by the people that I know personally who voted the current administration into office. If you know me, and say that you are my friend, then how can you put people in power who do not think that my wife deserves the same human rights as everyone else? It is just personally insulting.
So with the holiday season upon us I would like to urge you all to first remember self care. If we are taking care of everyone and everything else while we are falling apart, we will be missing out on the joy that life can bring to us. Second, reach out to anyone you know in the transgender community. Either through social media, a text message saying, “I am thinking about you,” a phone call, or an invitation to your home for a meal. So many folks do not have acceptance for who they are from their families, which causes them to withdraw from society. The holidays seem to amplify those negative feeling and deepen their depression. The one desire that we all share as humans, transgender and cisgender alike is the need to feel loved. It costs nothing to spread a little love and the giver, as well as the receiver, will be better for it.