Transgender Suicides: What We Can Do
You don’t have to be gender queer to support those who are.
Somehow, this concept has never been understood, nor accepted by all humans and hence, gender discrimination has gotten worse with the changing times.
Over the years, humans have been able to say the word ‘homosexual’ or its informal equivalents without flinching but there are still a lot of people who have a problem with Transgenderism. Hence, it should not come as a shock that the rate of depression and suicide attempts of Transgenders are larger in number when compared to straight people. What comes as a shock is how alarming the rates are and how they are neglected worldwide.
The suicide cases are not a cry for attention, they are due to the severe stress and anxiety levels, which occur because they have an internal war between who they are, who they want to be, and who society wants them to be.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention conducted a survey wherein they asked around 6500 transgender people if they have tried to commit suicide, and heartbreakingly, 41% of them said Yes.
41%. That’s ten times more than the average rate of 4.6% for ‘normal people’.
There are no unknown reasons for these suicides. It’s pretty simple. They are not accepted, not by their teachers, not by their friends, and not by their families. Parents condition their children from a very young age that they are something they are actually not. By the time the children learn to stand up for themselves, they are already shunned by society, which leads to depression, self-harm, and internal battles. Somewhere down the road, they feel that suicide is the best option they have.
One such story of an American teenager was all over the news a few months back.
A 17 year old, Leelah Alcorn (birth name Joshua), committed suicide by stepping in front of a truck, leaving behind a suicide note on her personal blog, blaming her parents for it. Even though she was identified as a girl from the age of 4, she was not allowed to transition. Her parents said she would never really be a girl and that God doesn’t make mistakes.
The sad part is, even after her death, her parents referred to her as “He” and wanted to take the suicide note off her blog.
Here is the link to the note she posted on her blog before committing suicide.
The National Transgender Discrimination Survey also reported that 41% of the transgender people commit suicide and it also revealed that:
“Among transgender people who became homeless because of bias against their gender identity, 69% said they had tried to kill themselves. Out of those who had been turned away by a doctor because they were transgender or gender-nonconforming, 60% had attempted suicide sometime in their lives, the survey found.”
Coming to India, a lot of cases of adult transgender suicides have also been reported. People still cringe at their sights when they pass us in local trains, on crossroad, or even just on the footpath. We cannot ask them to change for we are the ones with the wrong attitude, and we should be the ones changing.
Special provisions in public washrooms, reservation in education sector, different options for the ‘gender’ column in official documents, suicide helplines and organizations like http://www.sooe.org.in/ are all just tiny steps India is taking to promote their equality. When it comes to us, all we need to do is constantly support them, but most importantly accept them. At the least, we can start from there and see how it goes!