By Sabrina Samone, Trans Muse Planet
No one can deny being LGB or T is not a simple, easy life. That not so easy life can seem near impossible to endure in the bible belt of America. While I’ve blogged and celebrated stories of kids being accepted and protected by a families love, there are too many unheard stories of the opposite. The stories of parents abandoning and disowning a child due to them being Gay, Lesbian or Transgender, are too many and familiar. What happens to that child beyond them being or not being embraced by an accepting, supportive lgbt community? That desire to still have their parents’ love rarely dissipates. How does one psychologically and emotionally cope with the loss of the love of one’s parents? When a parent has become deceased, there is a normal painful grieving process. How do you process a parent who remains alive yet as absent as one who has passed away?
Recently I received a news feed titled, ‘Former Transgender tells his story.’ I had seen these types of stories and politely deleted. I’ve heard of the groups like Exodus that convert Gay men back to heterosexuals. I remember when, Darrell (Kim Avis to me), first connected with them. Usually the victims of these organizations backslide as it’s called. They’re forgiven and re-entered into more intense therapy over and over again until, some form of self acceptance, regardless how painful, inevitably has to be reached. Leaving scars of a life not spent and yet tormented.
Since the Victorian age many in the name of science, medicine or religion, have tried in earnest to alter sexual attitudes in others deemed unnatural by the ones producing the procedures. Today, we call it conversion therapy; a range of pseudo-scientific treatments that aim to change sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual. The American Psychiatric Association has condemned psychiatric treatments such as reparative or conversion therapy. Many years ago, these treatments involved Electroconvulsive therapy (electro-shock), and continue to find support and funding from right-wing fundamentalist groups, despite evidence that being lgbt is not a mental disorder. The longstanding consensus of the behavioral and social sciences and the health and mental health professions is that homosexuality per se is a normal and positive variation of sexual orientation. Recently the association has modifies it’s standings on gender identity disorder as well.
In a society where many lgbt people are faced with discrimination; denied job advancement, bullied, have threats against their life and the potential loss of a parent’s love, it’s not too hard to see why a person lacking self acceptance would want to try to deny who they are, however impossible that can be. The social needs in Maslow’s hierarchy include such things as love, acceptance and belonging. At this level, the need for emotional relationships drives the human behavior. Whether denied or accepted, these needs are best achieved from: friendships, romantic attachments, family, social groups, community groups, churches and religious organizations. For many lgbt that have not found positive influences, love from family or personal acceptance, many if not all of these needs can be lacking. Regardless, the human behavior to possess these basic needs is never diminished.
Many in the Trans community referrers to mentors as; trans-mothers, drag mama, gay mom or hormone sisters. In order to find a girl or boy that feels the same gender dysphoria as you, intentionally or not, friendships of common interest in transitioning are sought after. These mentors you seek advice from sometimes take on a sort of mother or big sister role to you. That’s what Darrel aka Kim Avis became to me. When I arrived in Florence, SC from Atlanta, I had already begun transitioning. I became a local showgirl in a nearby gay bar as an outlet to my daily sixteen hour a day job as a C.N.A. I met Kim one night after a show. It being a small town with no other known Trans people, I was glad to see another girl like me. She seemed from the beginning, extremely ecstatic to be making a new friend. Immediately I wanted to know the names of local doctors she knew. She took me later that month to her doctor who eventually became mine. I had made many friends both gay and straight as a showgirl there. My family also lived only thirty minutes away in Hartsville, SC. Quickly I noticed I seemed to be Kim’s only friend that she could be herself with. Though she was fully developed at the time, she had returned to dressing as male due mainly by her family’s persistence. She and I found refuge in common souls, so we eventually became roommates.
In the PFOX website article, she begins by saying she had started having same sex attraction by age 13 and that a bisexual male introduces her to “men” like her. She states of being happy as she watched her body develop, becoming arrogant and being scared at the person she saw in the mirror. She speaks without names, of a man on a hill that took her to a dark basement to inject silicone. She seems to imply a degree of naivety about the entire situation. She continues then to speak of the years passing and growing depressed. Heartbroken of an abusive boyfriend that then later leaves her for a younger girl. She seemed to grow tired of the long process of getting herself made up in makeup, saying it became longer and longer to make myself look like a female and yet never was. She goes into briefly her drunken spiral of loneliness that leads her to find the people of PFOX who paid to have the dangerous silicone injected substance taken out of her therefore, removing her breast. She became a male again.
The problem with this story is the need to excuse self destructive nature on being transgender. As roommates Kim and I spent many long evening talks about life and being transgender. Religion was and is very important in our lives. She often spoke of the heartbreak, now ten years later, of the young man she loved that abused her and left her for a young trans-girl that was also a friend of mine, Indigo. Her long struggles with alcohol dating back to high school. I was there to witness her popular local career as a hairdresser. In order to convince her not to dress as a female, her parents bought her an upscale salon called La Rouge International. She accepted the idea to not dress and please her family. She did as so many do, seek the love and acceptance of family. Not being who she wanted to be drove her deeper into addicted behavior overtime. I knew of the occasional cocaine addictions and how hair clients would pay in drugs. Not having any issues at the time, her drug issues had not affected her life in a negative way yet, I decided we’d continue to be roommates and find another place. By this time I was working two jobs, visiting family more and traveling the state doing gender illusion shows. I saw Kim less and less. She was not welcomed at her families unless she was in male attire, so this would make her stay in the apartment alone. Most in the lgbt local community kept a distance. She was viewed by many as a little flighty or unstable. I was noticing the drugs getting heavier and heavier which lead me to stay with family even more. One day I decided to call the landlord to have an issue in the apartment fixed and was informed rent had not been received in three months. Since I was always on the road, the arrangement had been for Kim to drop off rent since the office was directly next door to her hair salon. This is when I knew the drugs had become more than just social and informed her family. Gratefully I was reimbursed and with all information being told to the landlords was not to have any penalties placed on me. Shortly after I was told by family of hers that she was in a rehab clinic in Virginia. I was happy she was receiving help. I began to move on, began dating an artist when I started receiving packages from her about the Exodus programs on conversions of transgender people. I ignored this attempt and it only showed to me, another example of her constant search of some type of acceptance and belonging to something. I wished her well and ignored further attempts of communication.
I decided to write this because to me this showed the lengths groups like these will use sad vulnerable people that seek affection and a sense of belonging to expand their propaganda of bigotry. I think of the possible young transgender boy/girl, whose family may see this as an opportunity to fix their gender dysphoric or gay child. Being transgender wasn’t the issue with Kim to me and many that knew her, but the lack of love, acceptance from family, a history of drug addiction and the inability to seek within herself a measure of self acceptance and love. I’m not saying she is not happy or better off. A friend from Lancaster, SC was always known to say, “Being transgender separates the boys from the women (mtf) and the girls from men (ftm).” What she meant was this transgender life sometimes comes with a lot more about life than hormone replacement therapy. Not all will find families support or love. Many want find a common supportive community. Many have and will continue to find discrimination in workplaces and find long careers ended and long sought after careers denied. It is true, not everyone on the journey of transcending genders will successfully transcend and that is ok. Personal happiness and self fulfillment is the goal of every human being on earth. But no institution should use the misfortunate attributes of a troubled person as evidence that leads to further bigotry and discrimination of others. How many people will be lead to more self doubt, self hate and self destruction by unrealistic articles like the one PFOX has entrusted in their new found former transgender spokesperson? Groups like these should be held responsible for the countless suicides of young teens. On their website PFOX says, Blanket approval is not responsible parenting or love. True love is loving in spite of our differences and treating each other with kindness and respect.”
PFOX, go tell that to the next parent of a gay, lesbian or transgender child that’s taken their life. Part of loving someone in spite of our difference and treating each other with kindness and respect is to blanket anyone different than yourself with the same love and respect you have for yourself and that is something, I’d feel, any parent would be proud to see their child accomplish in life.