I had this post planned in a narrative form as I sat anxiously in the doctor’s office maniacally sprawled forward on the waiting room table. But now the weight of the inevitable bad news makes that approach seem silly. I haven’t wrote much lately. I wanted so badly to reflect well on 2017. And then I felt guilty about saying anything bad, considering all the supposedly great things about my life. And yet, I think that this sentiment is a form of participating in the oppression Olympics. I felt as if someone would point to me and say, “But you’re white, live in Europe (by choice), and had male privilege, you can’t complain.” As if being trans and feeling suicidal for five months was somehow not bad enough. Actually, when considering time, if we are talking about school time, that is a year stretching between September to June, then a large part of my 2017 was still pretty great (after all I was a teacher and am a student). But that back half of the year has really shaken me.
In the first place, I’ve been dispossessed by half of my family, no big deal I suppose, I was already halfway there on that one side. Still, it seemed like a negative but almost obligatory trans trope. Next, and much more damaging, I’ve been similarly dispossessed by my own government and the one I am currently living in. As I do not directly fit under either’s jurisdiction, I am made undesirable, my timeline is halted, there will be no legal recognition for me. Now some people don’t seem to see why this would be so traumatic, but if you don’t get it I’m in no state to describe it here. But the real kicker has been my mandatory switch to the estradiol patch.
It’s been two months now, at least, and my estradiol levels have plummeted from high into the female range for over a year to well into the normal male range. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to deal with this other shit when I don’t even have my body. I’m now a failed techno-scientific monster. Something bodily not male or female. This blow to my corporeal reality is just…ineffable shit. I tried to explain this to my doctor and all I managed were dammed tears and some jibberish about trans suicide statistic happening mostly while one waits for adequate healthcare. I’m done with hinting and pointing at this, that is really how I feel: suicidal—or close, desperate and scared. Because the reality is that there are people who care for me, but anyone/thing—thing here standing for medical/government bureaucracy— that can move me forward doesn’t care about my life. I am nothing. The timelines these things create for trans lives to unfold upon are hopelessly long and challenging, I’m not even walking on the line at the moment.
So here is a narrative. As I stood staring into the flickering butane flame—tinged orange with impurities from the stovetop—my hand faltered in its reach for the knife. I could remember the feeling of hot steel melting flesh, the acrid smell, and joy of control and mastery over my pain. But this time something was different. I was scared, scared this wouldn’t end with the pale-flesh scare of a burn shaped in a word or a double-tapered line, but something more. I didn’t want to show off my pain but rather destroy it.
There is nothing wrong with trans people. There is something wrong about the ever-present state of precarity that we’re made to live in. To some, a post like this might seem emotional and attention seeking. But I feel like I can further help people understand what it feels like to be trans—at least from my subjective viewpoint—in real time as I crash and burn.
“There’s always a siren/ Singing you to shipwreck.”