A while back someone shared this report/research study (pdf) with me and I finally got some time to read it – Suicide Attempts among Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Adults.
It’s an interesting and important read. The study was not perfect nor were its research methodologies (as noted even in the report itself). But really, what study is perfect? None, to my knowledge. And I think this one is pretty good. My main fault with it is that those surveyed were people who were reporting to be gender non-conforming or transsexual. But I think this would exclude large groups of people, people like me for example. I might respond to such a survey today, but I would not have done so 5, 10, or 20 years ago. There are a lot of men out there like I was. Men who are married but actively crossdressing, and men who are married but with transgender feelings and just trying to make the best of a hard situation. Many of these men would not respond to a survey like this out of fear of someone in their family finding out somehow. It wouldn’t be worth the risk at all. But many of these men, like myself, have never attempted to commit suicide either. I have a hunch that the people responding to the survey are people who had already felt extreme pain and rejection in their life related to these issues and so responded to the survey. Even the report says – “Further, the survey’s focus on discrimination may have resulted in wider participation by persons who had suffered negative life experiences due to anti transgender bias.”
But that aside, it’s still a good report bringing to light this very important issue of suicide among the transgendered and crossdressing population. It’s worth a read so we can be aware of this issue and help those who are struggling.
I’m not surprised at the pain transgender people or crossdressers go through. I can say this because I’ve had significant pain in my own life because of these issues. The gender confusion and desires for what seem so illogical can make you feel crazy. It’s pain beyond what most people realize, pain concerning our very identity.
I’m also not surprised by the horrible consequences and heartache people have felt because of these issues. I’m not surprised that they have experienced lost jobs, broken relationships, and family relationships torn apart. It’s a severe shock when someone finds out you’ve been secretly pretending you are a woman, or when someone finds out you are going to the doctor to have surgical operations to change what is a natural and healthy body. When people find out, especially a wife or a loved one, they feel betrayed. They feel like you aren’t the person you said you were. They feel as if you’ve been hiding a deep dark secret from them for years (and often that is truly the case). And in some cases, if you go off and start living as a woman, or refuse to quit crossdressing, they feel you are not the person you were, but are confused and trying to become someone else. A woman who married a man is certainly not going to be okay being married to another woman (albeit a fake one), and having another mommy for her kids. So again, I’m not surprised by the rejection people like us go through. If we refuse to give in to our desires, we might feel unfulfilled or unhappy or untrue to ourselves. But if we give in, we can totally ruin our lives and relationships. It puts us in a pretty horrible fix.
But beyond these issues, the research study makes abundantly clear that much of the stress causing suicide attempts goes beyond these natural feelings and consequences, and is the result of bullying, harassment, and even violence. It is partially because of this that the numbers of transgendered people attempting suicide are shocking – “In looking at the percentages reporting a lifetime attempt within various subgroups of the overall sample, we repeatedly found “lows” in the range of 30 to 40 percent, while the “highs” exceeded 50 or even 60 percent.”
This makes me sad. I hate crossdressing and transgenderism. But when I see people struggling with crossdressing or transgender feelings, I try to react with love, sensitivity, and compassion. I’m not perfect, and don’t love these people perfectly, but I try. I am strongly against harassment of these people or violence towards them, even verbal violence. When I’ve counseled such people in person, I always try to be loving, I shut up and listen well, and I even give them a hug.
If we don’t respond in love to such hurting people, we will indeed drive them closer to suicide. That’s why when I hear from wives of crossdressers through this blog, I always counsel them to first listen to their husbands and try to understand. I counsel them to try to be forgiving and loving even if they hate what their husbands have been doing. And I remind them that their husbands took great courage to even be able to share with their wives their secrets and they have been through much pain already. They did not choose to have these feelings.
It is because I am well aware of this pain out there that I still have this blog. I want to reach out and help others. I have found freedom and change and contentment. I am no longer so confused in my gender. I am no longer trapped in addiction. I am no longer unhappy. Now I feel so happy and so free, and I want to help others find this freedom as well.
Friends, we need to reach out with love to these people, whether they be strangers, brothers, sisters, children, or husbands. We need to act towards them as Jesus did. No, Jesus would not accept foolish ideology, or encourage them to alter their bodies. He would not help them put on a dress to pretend they are women. But he would most certainly sit with them, talk with them, love them, forgive them, and serve them.