Depression sucks. I cannot say that strongly enough. It does nothing good, and it screws things up for everyone.
That said, I’m depressed. I’ve been depressed for a long time. I got over it, mostly, when I started dealing with my gender dysphoria.
Then stuff started piling up again.
A lot of that has been the recent hysteria in the United States over transgender people and bathrooms. I’m transgender, male-to-female. When those “conservative” politicians are up in arms because transgender people are using public restrooms; when they’re calling transgender people perverts, rapists and pedophiles — I’m hearing them say that about me. They are saying it about me. And all the rest of us.
Now, yes: I know those bills are bullshit. I know that there is not actually a record of anyone pretending to be transgender in order to gain access to women to rape them. I know that women are raped in every public space there is, and it shocks me that people are flipping out about theoretical crimes being commited in extremely specific circumstances while real ones are occurring constantly, all over. I know that in North Carolina’s bill the bits that were actually important to the conservative agenda had nothing to do with who does or doesn’t get to use a public restroom — no, the parts those politicians cared about were the bits that prevent municipalities from setting local minimum wages, and the bits that make it so that if part of the bill is over turned (as the bathroom provision will be) the rest stays in effect (such as those benefiting businesses over individuals) and I know that not enough people will notice, and they’ll get away with it.
And so I’m not actually bothered by those bills. I know that trans people are being used as a rallying point: an ‘other’ that the politicians can drum up hysteria over so that people will rally around them and support their cause, letting them get in office and pass their measures without paying attention to what they’re actually contributing to. Is it evil? Yes. Do I understand it? Yeah.
What I don’t understand, and what freaks me the fuck out are the people who rally to those cries. The people who care about the supposed pedophiles sneaking into the women’s restroom, when those same supposed pedophiles were supposedly in the restroom with their male children all along and no one cared. The people who rally around hatred and bigotry, despite all reasonable evidence to the contrary of what their leaders are shouting. The people who are fucking themselves over by supporting the hidden clauses in those bills, just so they can also fuck over people who aren’t doing them any harm but are ‘different.’
I keep seeing articles now about women who have been harassed by men who are up in arms about transgender bathroom issues. I get what those articles are trying to convey: oh, the irony. But what I hear when I see another one of those headlines in my feed is “what irony: real women are being harassed.” As though these laws aren’t already blatant harassment of women — women who happen to be trans.
I am depressed. People are up in arms about Target’s restroom policy, to the point that conservative groups are actually sending men into women’s restrooms to drum up more transphobic hysteria. That, more than anything, has undermined Target’s policy. Not because I think it is actually convincing anyone that trans people are a threat, but because those “protesters” are such a clear threat to me that I can’t feel safe using a public restroom in a Target. Even though they have an affirming policy, it feels less safe to me because I know that I’m more likely to be targeted there by some nut job who hates me because of an accident of birth.
Last weekend I went walking with my friend. And it was nice. We visited some vintage shops. And I was constantly afraid that someone was going to ‘make’ me shame me, harangue me; maybe assault me. I didn’t try anything on. There were only a couple of dresses I would’ve liked to, but… I’m afraid of public places again.
I take medication for severe generalized anxiety disorder. If anyone reads Midnight Moonlight, I’m sure you’ll have an idea what that’s like — or perhaps you know from your own life. I used to have panic attacks going to the store. I used to have to take breaks at work to cry in the bathroom. I used to be terrified that something bad was always just seconds away from happening. That the people driving by were joyriding thugs who’d love to chuck a brick at a random passerby. That someone would see I wasn’t acting ‘male’ enough, and ridicule or beat or kill me.
I stopped fearing a lot of that when I started taking the medication. It changed my life in ways I can’t even begin to describe.
But now I’m afraid again. And it’s not even an irrational disorder, like it was before. It’s a legitimate fear based on the hate I see being spewed by the masses. And I know, I know: surly it’s just a vocal minority? Except that doesn’t matter when all it takes is one member of the violent minority to ruin or end a life. And conservative politicians have put a giant target on anyone who even “looks” transgender. (I mean, the irony! ‘Real’ women are being harassed now for being too masculine looking — and I hope you can pick up the sarcasm there. I mean: like that wasn’t already happening anyway. It’s just that now they’re being harassed because they were mistaken for trans, rather than just because they weren’t being ‘feminine’ enough. Fuck society.)
I’m a transgender woman. I can be fired for that, and there is no legal protection. The company I work for has it’s own, supposed, internal policies prohibiting that — but in a way that only serves to keep me trapped there. I can’t afford to risk getting another job when all it would take is one bigoted manager or HR worker to leave me unemployed. I can be denied housing for that — I’ve stopped going to the office if I can help it because there’s at least one worker there who has oh so helpfully “corrected” people about my gender before. Ie, told them I was a man. I go to a supposedly LGBT friendly clinic for my hormone therapy. I don’t think I’ve seen the same doctor more than twice in a row. Last time, after calling me up by my male name the nurse tried to tell me that I must have misheard because she had called for a guy — many, many times now I’ve had them correct their sheets with my preferred name.
But I’m afraid to look elsewhere, because for all I know I’ll be denied treatment at all.
It makes me sick, but I’m afraid to stand up to it most of the time because it’s not just me that’s on the line: it’s Ess and Arr and Jae. Especially when it comes to work. I make up the bulk of our finances, and my job provides the insurance for myself and Jae, who has a lot of health issues. I can’t afford to lose it — and I hate it. It wears me down every day. It’s almost constant drudgery that I don’t care about. I fought for years to get as much recognition as I have, and I’m still not making the national average for someone with my experience — but I have been given reduced raises because I’m making more than the average for someone with my job title. (How fucking stupid is that? Yes, deduct my “merit” raise because I’ve already gotten so many “merit” raises that I’m making above average for the position you haven’t promoted me out of even though I’ve been doing tech and programming work for you for the past three years.) I’m a technical lead now. It took me a long, long time to get there. I went through a lot of shit for it, too… that’s a whole pile of other stories.
And even though I haven’t been fired for coming out, it still kind of sucks. I mean… Okay, this one is kind of a petty thing, but: everyone in my office has their name on their cubical, color coded to match their job title. And even though I’m a technical lead, mine is still “new hire white” because the only person who gave enough of a shit to print up a replacement with the office template when I asked to be addressed by my female name going forward didn’t have access to colored paper.
Or, when I came out to management, I actually asked the manager who was in charge of liaising with the building we rent office space from to find out what the building owners’ policy on transgender personnel and restrooms was. He told me he would. When he hadn’t done anything after a week and I asked him about it, he suggested that I should send the email — because, yes, I’m sure building management would love to get an email from some whack job employee they’ve never heard of who’s skipping the chain of communication about something like bathroom privileges. I mean, it’s not like finding this stuff out was that manager’s job or anything, right?!
That was before the bathroom hysteria. Now I’m just waiting for my state to pass a bill that prohibits me from using the women’s restroom. I had people doing double takes on me in the men’s room before I started dressing feminine. I somehow don’t think it’ll go over better now that I occasionally go to work in a skirt. So, yeah. I worry that any day I’ll find out I have to choose between risking thousands of dollars in fines (seriously, some of those bills will fine people over half of my annual income for using the restroom that doesn’t conform to their “biological gender as stated on their birth certificate.”), risking jail time, risking being assaulted in the men’s room… or I could just go back to not eating or drinking until I get home for the evening. That time in my life fucking sucked, and I doubt being constantly hungry and dehydrated has gotten any more fun since then.
Jae is also depressed. She has a lot of her own things to deal with, and she’s been working at it. She’s been very supportive of me in the past, but she doesn’t have the energy to take care of me now. Ess and Arr are her people, not mine — and while they do care about me, I can’t lean on them as much as I need.
I think, in the end, I get most of my emotional support from people’s comments on the site when I have a total break down and give up posting for a week. How fucked up is that?
And some days I’m okay, but this is twice now that I’ve called off work or come home because I didn’t have the fortitude to handle being in the office. I’m back to crying in the restroom — just in the other restroom, now. And today I caught myself engaging in self harm again. It was just grinding my elbow into the small bones of my opposite hand, but…
I haven’t done anything like that for years.
And I really wished I had a hammer.
Because, like: if my hands were shattered then no one would be able to deny that I couldn’t program or write. If I’m not physically capable of it, then it’s not my fault if I lose my job, right? Give up on everything?
I can’t do that. I know I can’t: I have responsibilities, and I’m smart enough to know that I love writing, and I’m not actually letting anyone down when I can’t manage the schedule I want to because I’m so fucked in the head.
But it doesn’t stop me from thinking: “If only…”
If only I weren’t trans.
If only I’d gotten on medication years and years ago, before I got into a job I can’t stand but can’t afford to quit, and had gotten a career in writing when I had the safety net to risk trying for it.
If only someone else had been born in my place. I used to beg God, every night, to kill “me” — my mind, my identity; that stuff — and replace “me” with someone who could be happy with the life I lived so I wouldn’t have to live it but I wouldn’t be hurting anyone by making them grieve if I ended it. I think that started around when I was ten. It didn’t stop until some when around the start of college. By then I had given up on faith. I still talk to God, but I don’t actually think He/She/It/Whatever cares.
I want to live. I want my family to be provided for — and that means I have to be the provider, because no one else in it can manage the income I do. I want to be myself. I want to share stories and games and make the lives of other people better.
And I want those things in roughly that order of priority. But some days, when I’m freaked out and overwhelmed, I think that if I could have my family provided for and not live, then that would be an okay trade. Because the work I do doesn’t make the lives of other people better. Not really. Not in any way that requires me to be the one doing it.
And frankly, I work for a faceless mega corporation type entity. Does anyone really think those make people’s lives better?
So I try, and I try, and I try to remind myself of the things I want. But more and more often, now, I wake up in the morning and all I want is to give up.
I want to give up.
I can’t, but I want to.
I’m depressed. Depression sucks.