I’m laying in my bed in Fargo. It’s 2am, and I have been sobbing uncontrollably for 2 hours. It has been an emotional week, what with my 5th anniversary on Monday and then, yesterday, the horrifying news that a bill had been rushed through the North Carolina legislature which forces transgender students to use the bathroom which corresponds with the sex assigned to them at birth, prohibits municipalities from passing ordinances to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, and unequivocally affirms discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Just across the river from my home, the Minnesota Legislature is considering similar legislation. And just south of here, South Dakota just narrowly defeated such a move. How long with it be until my own government takes up such a discussion. It’s a distinct possibility given that it is becoming a trend in state government this year.
Transgender individuals are attempting and dying of suicide at alarming rates. I have attempted once before, and thoughts of death are a part of my existence which I actively fight. Because it’s hard being transgender. It is hard living in a world which thinks you are a freak and a monster whose goal in life is to corrupt and victimize others.
People tend to see the side of me that I want them to see. The paradoxical Darcy who is strong while being charmingly vulnerable and open about her struggles. What they don’t often see, and what I am exposing to you tonight, is the Darcy who is exhausted and miserable and completely done with the struggle that is the life of a transgender person in the majority of the world.
I am exhausted. Transgender advocacy is a thankless, and for the most part, zero revenue, high debt-load endeavor. Currently, a large chunk of my debt can be attributed to the work which I do on behalf of my brothers and sisters. I am emotionally drained as well. Every time I tell my story, I relive all of the trauma of the last five years. Every time I speak on the news or radio I open myself up to ridicule and threats. And since this work began three years ago, I have done everything in my power to make this country a better place for transgender individuals, and nothing seems to be getting better. And frankly, if a Democrat is not elected to the White House in November, things will get a lot worse very quickly for transgender Americans.
This whole “things are not getting better” situation is attributed to two things: first, apathy. People should get fired up about injustice. They should speak out or support those who do. But most people do not. Most people do not let knowledge change them. They hoard it and use it to feel more informed and therefore better about themselves. Second, hatred. The people who push bills like the one in South Dakota and the one in North Carolina hate transgender individuals. The are impervious to testimony from people who these bills actually impact. The mock us, call us crazy, and brand us as perverts. They are literally unmoved by the fact that a good number of transgender students will die by suicide as the result of these laws. Not only do they hate, they celebrate their hate. They are proud of the evil that they create and spread around like manure on a garden.
They say that we are monsters. The reality is that we are human beings. They are monsters.
As I lay here, face swollen, puffy, and red, I want to just throw the towel in, tap out of this fight, retire as an advocate. It would be so easy to do, and it would be so nice to lay this burden down. I take very little pleasure from this work. I mean, how can one derive pleasure from a pursuit which involves wading into hate and doing it with dignity and grace when it would be so much more satisfying to go in swinging?
But that’s not entirely true. I take pleasure from one aspect of my life as an advocate. And that is knowing that somewhere tonight there is a person who is struggling to understand their identity. Maybe they are a child or teen. Maybe a young adult. Maybe an older adult. Maybe they have a loved one who is struggling with identity. And maybe my work, this website, this blog post is the one thing standing between them and oblivion.
And as a person who has stood on the edge of the abyss and faced death by my own hand and who has had to make this arduous journey alone, I understand the power of journeying together.
This journey to become a better version of yourself is hard. It has no rewards other than the satisfaction of knowing you are embracing and accepting yourself. Indeed, people will most likely deride you for being honest and genuine. They will revel in their hatred. They will try to push you down and discourage you. Because if they can do that, then they can erode the precarious network of support that we as a community have forged over hundreds of years.The reality of journeying is that you can do it alone, but when you do it in pairs you will have a much easier time of it. Indeed, if you do it in multitudes few can withstand your advance.
Three years ago I made a promise that as long as I had breath in my body I would not be silent in the face of injustice. While I am exhausted and discouraged, I am not broken nor am I dead. And as someone who has risen from the depths of hell I am obligated to not hide in the comfort of that stealth life. Indeed, I am obligated to my sisters and brothers still writhing in hell to reach out to them and pull them out. And I will do so until the day that I draw my last breath.
My dearest ones, if you are reading this, please know that you are valuable. You are not defined by this evil. You are defined by the very love that draws us all to one another. If you are reaching out from the depths of hell, this is me reaching back. These times are dark for our community but know that there is a network of support reaching out to encapsulate you. We can survive alone, but it is together that we thrive.
Stand strong, my beloved ones, and know that I am here for you.