28 March 2015

When We Get What We Need

One of the more depressing things to write about is the poor state of mental health and high rates of suicide among trans people, especially our young.

We don't go crazy or kill ourselves because we're trans, any more than people become unwell or off themselves because they're Black, Latina, women, physically disabled or anything else.  Rather, it's the stress of living in an inhospitable world that drives us to, or over, the edge.  

And, as with any other group of people, we do just as well as anybody else when we have what we need--including medical and mental health care.

As this graphic from Anti-Media shows, our suicide rates plummet--and or overall mental health improves--when we get the care we need.  And it even saves Medicaid money!:


27 March 2015

What Kind Of Lesbian Cyclist Am I?

Five years ago, as I was recovering from my surgery, "Velouria" of Lovely Bicycle! suggested that I start a bike blog.  (Now you know who to blame!;-)) At the time, I had been writing  Transwoman Times for a bit less than two years.  When I started Midlife Cycling in June of 2010, I thought TT would run its course and I'd keep it online for posterity--or, perhaps, revisit it from time to time.

Well, nearly five years later, TT is still going.  I can't seem to let it go.  That may be because its focus shifted from my own experience of transitioning, surgery and starting my new life to LGBT-related subjects in general.  Not only that, I can't seem to keep trans (or L, G, or B) themes out of this blog any more than I could keep cycling out of Transwoman Times.  

Once again, those aspects of my life are going to meet--in this post.  You see, I came across something from The Most Cake, a blog by and about young and hip lesbians in London.  

While I've noticed a number of young lesbians and genderqueers (or people who simply don't fit into most accepted definitions of gender and sexuality) at bike-related events and establishments here in The Big Apple, it seems that there is a more prominent subculture of lesbian cyclists in the British capital.  At least, that's the impression I get from The Most Cake and from things I've heard from people who've been in London more recently than I've been. I can't say I'm surprised, really.  

Anyway, according to the author of the post that caught my eye, there are five distinct types of lesbian cyclists in The Big Smoke

1.  Aggressive girls in Lycra
2.  Eco-warrior on self-built touring bike
3.  Feminist cyclist with a cause
4.  Fixie lesbian with tatoos and piercings
5.  The catch-all lesbian cyclist who cycles because she likes it and it's better than public transport or walking or micro-scootering.

 They're on bikes. Sorry just found it we were like okay

Hmm...Had I been living as female earlier in my life, I definitely would have been 1, possibly 3 and/or 4.  Of course, if I'd started living as a woman when I was 20, I wouldn't have been wearing Lycra, as it wasn't yet available.  But I would/could have been the equivalent of type #1.  

If I had to classify myself today from any of those types, I'd say I'm number five, with some of number three thrown in.  And, perhaps, number two--after all, I've built a touring bike of my own and I try to do what's environmentally sustainable.

But I don't plan on getting any tatoos or any more piercings than I already have (on my earlobes).  Or to wear Lycra again, even if I lose weight.  But I do plan to keep on riding.  And, perhaps, I'll meet Ms. Right.

26 March 2015

Blake Brockington: Another Trans Teen Suicide

Last year he was a homecoming king.  

Now he's dead, an apparent suicide.

What went wrong?  The one-word answer: hate.

Blake Brockington transitioned during his sophomore year in East Mecklenburg High School in Charlotte, North Carolina.  In January, he recounted his struggles of coming to terms with his identity and finding acceptance.  "When I got my period," he recalled, "my aunt told me, 'Welcome to womanhood'.  I was like Nooo!"  He was forced to wear dresses to church and family events.

He "came out" to his teachers and stepmothers.  "My family feels like this is a decision I made," he said.  "They think, 'You're already black, why would you want to draw more attention to yourself?'" But, he explained, "It's not a decision. It is who I am.  I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy."

Things got so bad that he moved in with a foster family.  With their support, he got counseling and started his transition.  But, it seems, the damage had already been done.  Even being crowned the homecoming king had its price:  "Really hateful things were said on the Internet."  It was hard, he said, to "see how narrow-minded the world really is."

Blake, though, experienced something worse than the narrow-mindedness of the world:  narrow-mindedness in his family.  In that, his story parallels that of Leelah Alcorn, the Ohio trans girl who, at age 17, killed herself in December.

W.H. Auden wrote, "We must love one another or die."  He knew, as well as anybody, that hate kills.  That is why I will now call the deaths of Leelah Alcorn and Blake Brockington what they are:  murders.  They were killed by those who hated them, even if those people didn't lift a finger to hurt them.  Those same people did not give them the love and support they needed, and that we all need.