A matter of luck…

I sit here with homemade chocolate chip cookies beside me and I can’t help but reflect on how lucky I am. I’m in a brand new, spotless apartment with working appliances and tasty, clean water. My fridge and cupboards are full of healthy food (and the ingredients for junk food). I have plenty of books to read and unlimited high speed internet. There’s friends and family to call when I need to hear a human voice… specifically their voices. And I have five goofy and loveable cats to keep me entertained.

So many people have so much less. I think of Colin, who’s stuck in our old apartment with no one around and no internet. He wanders over to the community centre to sit outside and download videos via their wifi and he calls me (yesterday he called seven times) but that’s it. He should have just under three weeks left until he moves. That’s going to be so long for him.

The job loss rate around the world is staggering. I was full tonight after dinner and put my leftovers in the fridge. Meanwhile there are countless people counting their change and hoping to scrape together enough money for some food. Where are they going to find work with almost everything closed? They’re trapped in a situation not of their choosing and struggling, and sometimes failing, to make ends meet.

I just read an article which said that police are concerned because domestic violence charges are down when they know the incidents are going up. How many people are injured at home, without medical treatment, because they can’t get out and can’t even make a phone call? How do you get away from an abusive and possessive partner who’s now constantly at home, especially if you have children? My heart aches for those caught in a nightmare with no end in sight. I hope they survive this experience and manage to get away. Please stay strong and stay safe. Do what you can to survive.

Many of our Indigenous people live in substandard housing with no clean running water, expensive food, and no local health care. And now covid-19 has been thrown at them too. How are they supposed to survive when their situation was already deplorable? How are they supposed to take care of the sick with no fresh drinking water and holes in the walls? We need to do a lot more as a country to bring up their living environment. Their treatment is a black mark on the nation.

And I feel horrible for LGBTQIA people, especially teens and young adults, stuck in a home with unsupportive family. It must be hell on earth for trans people who are continually misgendered and misnamed by the people who are supposed to love and care for them and for people who hear regularly about how awful queer people are. There are celebrity ministers right now who claim gay people caused the covid-19 virus, even though it’s beginnings have been clearly established. Quite a few of the people who listen to and agree with those ministers have queer children at home. For all of you. You are loved, you are valued, you are important. This is horrible now… a nightmarish hell… but it will get better. You will break free. Just hold tight.

And here I sit in comfort, passing through the storm in a well stocked and weatherproof home. Lara stands beside me begging for (and receiving) pets. Pentatonix plays on YouTube, while my scented candles wreath the rooms with the aroma of lilacs. We are in the middle of the storm but hopefully, especially for those who are trapped, I hope it blows over soon.

breathe

Safety…

I still don’t know why I clicked play. It was several years ago, when Russia was hosting the Winter Olympics and people wanted to get the word out on how bad Russia was to it’s LGBTQ citizens. Someone made a video compiled of the videos homophobic people made. LGBTQ people had no protections so abusers felt they could do anything and record it for further “enjoyment”. One young man was handed a bottle and told to insert it into his anus. He begged for mercy. It was denied. I can still hear his screams.

Then videos surfaced, in the Middle East, of gay men being thrown off buildings. And the public hangings continued in Saudi Arabia. And a friend of mine is gender fluid but she can’t let anyone know in her country.

I’ve watched the battle for equal marriage in the States become a success… and the struggle for trans rights stagnate. Some wins… some losses. The transphobic side is downright scary. When an elementary school girl wanted to use the girl’s bathroom the school chatroom quickly devolved with people calling her a “half baked maggot”  and “it” then bragging over which one of their sons was going to beat her up. Her family quickly moved.

Then there’s Uganda with it’s virulent homophobic atmosphere. It’s pretty much illegal to be LGBTQ, as if people have control over their sexual orientation.

Poland has declared 1/3 of the country to be LGBTQ free. Of course everyone knows that’s not the case. It’s not like the LGBTQ community dissolves when a law like that is passed, we’re simply forced into hiding. What’s going to happen to all the LGBTQ adults? What’s going to happen to the kids who are slowly realizing they’re not straight or cis? I’m betting Poland’s going to see a spike in their suicide rates soon. The question is will they care?

The States pretty much said “hold my beer” as Greenville County, South Carolina tried to remove a resolution passed in 1996 with the opposers stating ‘that lifestyles advocated by the gay community should not be endorsed by government policy makers, because they are incompatible with the standards to which this community subscribes’. They didn’t have enough people there to pass the vote so it’s been moved. Now one of the councilors wants the whole county to vote on it in a resolution in November. Nothing like having your human rights put to a vote while people debate on whether you’re harmful to children.

Closer to home there’s the Alberta premier, Jason Kenney, who wanted parents to be aware if their child joined the Gay-Straight Alliance, despite the fact that 40% of homeless youths are part of the LGBTQ community, a hugely disproportionate amount. What he proposed wasn’t safe for the children in those groups but he plowed on with it anyway. It passed.

When Kathleen Wynne was the premier of Ontario, she decided sex education needed a huge overhaul and worked with parents and educators to create a plan more suited for today’s society. It also included age appropriate discussions on LGBTQ people and people freaked out. They acted like their kindergarteners were going to learn about gay sex when all they were doing was learning the names of body parts and reading books like Heather Has Two Mommies. There were protests but Wynne refused to budge. All children needed comprehensive sex ed. Then there was an election and Doug Ford won. One of the first things he did when he entered the office was reverse the sex ed programme back to the 90’s version. Back to the one which had no mention of the LGBTQ community or sexting or the internet. Anything to keep children from hearing about the queers.

And now there are evangelical Christians blaming the LGBTQ community for the coronavirus. Pastors such as Steven Andrew are saying things like:

“God’s love shows it is urgent to repent because the Bible teaches homosexuals lose their souls and God destroys LGBT societies,” the minister said in a video posted to YouTube.

“Our safety is at stake since national disobedience of God’s laws brings danger and diseases, such as coronavirus, but obeying God brings covenant protection… God protects the USA from danger as the country repents of LGBT, false gods, abortion and other sins.”

My son Colin backed away from being trans and transitioning a couple of years ago ostensibly because of fertility reasons, the hormones are more likely than not going to cause sterility and he wants biological children. So Emma and the she/her pronouns went back in the closet. But that wasn’t the only reason. Every single time we headed out Colin/Emma fretted about what clothes to wear… terrified of being attacked at the bus stop. I promised I’d fight the attackers but he didn’t have much faith in my middle aged 5ft 3in self.

Where is our safety? These laws are supposedly for protection from the LGBTQ community, even though we aren’t harming anything and only ask for equal rights. That apparently doesn’t matter. And, for every win, such as equal marriage and repeals of conversion therapy, there’s a loss, a rollback of rights. I wear a rainbow scarf given to me by my ex Lenny and a rainbow cat pin from my friend Jen and wear both with pride. I still worry about attracting negative attention although thankfully I haven’t received any.

Maybe someday we’ll all be considered equal but not today. Not tomorrow either.

me-on-the-bowmanville-creek-trail

Me with my rainbow pin and scarf

 

Straight pride…

I can’t remember how old I was, maybe six or seven. I was standing in the living room beside my Mom when a boy only a little older than me walked past on the road. It was obvious he was crying.

“Why’s he crying Mommy?” I asked.

“He’s going to karate and he doesn’t want to go,” she replied.

“But why does he have to go if he doesn’t like it?”

My Mom thought for a few minutes, likely tailoring the story into something more suitable for my age. “His father thinks he’s too… sensitive… too girly and he’s trying to toughen him up.”

I thought of how sad he’d looked. “Can’t someone stop his Dad?”

“It’s not illegal to send your child to karate, even if he doesn’t like it. It’s not even against the law to make him walk there.”

I could tell by my Mom’s voice she didn’t like it. It was also obvious that there was nothing she or anyone else could do. It was also obvious that some adults did not like their children for who they were. Fit in or get hammered in.

The years passed and I was in high school. I was in a crowded hall when the group next to me caught my attention. Maybe because they were loud. Maybe because there was a teacher in the group. It was Monday and they were talking about what they’d done that weekend.

“I went downtown,” one said with a shit eating grin. A second and the teacher had also gone.

I loved going downtown too. I’d go down Queen Street to Bakka, a sci-fi/fantasy bookstore and I’d sometimes eat at The Old Spaghetti Factory. That wasn’t why they went though.

“There’s so many fags there, I didn’t have enough rocks!”

“I hit one and made him bleed!” The rest, including the teacher, made noises of approval, while I slid through the crowd and hurried away, feeling sick.

Time went on. I joined a choir and looked forward to our weekly rehearsals. One year we performed the song “Putting on the Ritz” and had a tap dancer perform in the middle. I couldn’t keep my eyes off him and couldn’t stop blushing either. He was really cute and a really good dancer. I mentioned the latter to the person beside me who looked at me with surprise.

“She’s a girl,” the choir member informed me. I looked closer and, sure enough, she was. But the interest didn’t go away. And, unlike the feeling of curiosity I felt when I was romantically attracted to a boy, this time all I felt was fear.

I was bullied at school and already knew how kids treat those they feel are different. And, of course, I couldn’t forget the guys blithely talking about throwing rocks at strangers for fun.

By the time I finished high school I was so far into the closet I’m surprised I didn’t come back out riding a lion. I married a man and was pregnant before our first anniversary. I’d worn my hair almost down to my waist for years but was finding it harder to keep it brushed and decent so I’d got a short cut in my 8th month. We went out for a walk one evening when a car drove by. The passenger yelled, “Fags!!!” out the open window. Anything else he said blurred into nonsense syllables while they sped away. I was terrified. Would they come back? Would they care that I was pregnant if they did. My ex wasn’t worried at all. I, however, knew how they treated those who were different.

It was last December and on our first date when I slid my hand into my girlfriend’s hand. We walked down a quiet path and I quietly breathed a sigh of relief when no one said anything. I knew that wasn’t the case all the time. Times have changed but by how much? Apparently enough to have a straight pride parade.

The parade is scheduled for this August in Boston and, to no one’s surprise, has links with the far-right and includes having Milo Yawnopoulos as the Grand Marshal. I’ve read a mixture of opinions regarding it but all I have is rage.

Pride started out as a protest against police brutality. It started with a brick thrown by a black trans sex worker, causing a riot that lasted for several days. The following year they started a parade and it’s continued ever since, spreading across the world. It was a parade of rage. Rage against the police officers who would pull them onto the street naked to shame them. Rage against the public who didn’t care. Rage against people who attacked them and mocked them… who refused to hire them or rent apartments to them. It wasn’t a party.

Now the Pride Parade is more of a party, a celebration of how far we’ve come. A celebration that we’re here, we’re queer, and we’re not going away.

But now there’s a straight backlash. They want to be in the LGBTQIA2S acronym, you know, because it isn’t quite long enough yet. They want their parade too. It’s not fair.

Do you know what’s not fair? What’s not fair is that child crying his way to karate, knowing his father only wanted him if he was someone else. Someone stronger… someone more straight. That child’s suicide attempt risk is so much higher than a straight child.

What’s not fair is all the people who had rocks thrown at them all because they dared to hold hands in a gay enclave. Or had slurs screamed at them.

What’s not fair is the eleven POC trans women who have been killed this year alone.

Or how about gay conversion therapy for youths, a treatment that has huge suicide rates and can cause PTSD.

Straight people want the party without the pain. They’ve never worried about holding hands or being attacked. They don’t have to worry about being misgendered and mocked by hospital staff after being assaulted. The people demanding their straight parade are like a spoiled child seeing a student get an award and demanding to know where their award is too, even though they didn’t put in any of the work.

No one’s stopping them for attending a pride parade, although I have a hunch they refuse out of a fear of having a pass made to them. They can wave rainbow flags and laugh and cheer with everyone else. Allies are more than welcome.

But they’re going to have their parade and a bunch of my friends are figuring it’s going to be the most boring parade ever, unless the far-right ignites a riot. And I’m just glad I’m nowhere near it.

 

Woke people need to stay in their lane…

I am so tired of people who claim to be woke. They’re not very woke, they need a few more hours sleep because they’re cranky as hell and don’t always make much sense. In their minds, they are the chosen few who have risen above racism and cast judgement on us lesser people. In reality they’re harassing their allies and driving them away.

I had a friend who got mad at me for saying Roseanne Barr was a horrible person for dressing up as Hitler and pulling little burnt Jewish cookies out of a gas oven. I needed to “stay in my lane”. Several Jewish people said it was fine and they agreed with me. She spoke over them to tell me, once again, to stay in my lane. I simply said “no” and got unfriended.

And now, today, I have a “friend” who posted this…

ridiculous radicals

Gee… I wonder if a “radical” wrote this. I am a Liberal and have no interest in being Radical. I also don’t think that POC need to learn how to act like white people. I believe we need to accept people as themselves. So I wrote, “I’m liberal but don’t think that at all.” Short and sweet, right? This was the response…

Holy shitballs folks, maybe when something angers you it’s time to examine why you’re so angry…

Because I, btw, do not consider myself a liberal exactly because of how invested in white supremacy liberals in the USA are.

And because any discussion about race leads to white folks moaning about how “not them” instead of calling out other white people.

Not every generalization applies to you as an individual, get over yourselves. They apply to liberals GENERALLY.

Although I find the ones quickest to #notall are usually the most guilty need to be defensive.

That you even get to argue this shit is a privilege. Deal with the fact that you are racist and do better instead of thinking that when I complain about men/whites/liberals I’m calling you out personally.

Unless, you know, them shoes fit.

For someone who’s claiming myself and the other person who commented are angry, she sure has a lot of rage. I responded that her response was full of anger and she might want to look in a mirror. She was not happy to be told that.

People need to stop pinning labels on others and making assumptions about their beliefs and prejudices. Instead they need to treat each individual as just that, an individual. Black people can be prejudiced against other POC, southern Baptists can end up being supportive of trans people, white liberals can be open minded, and radicals can be ignorant.

If you build a big wall of intolerance between you and your neighbour, you are never going to see your similarities and you’ll never get the chance to actually know them.

Sadly, I don’t think this friend is going to try and listen but hopefully someone will because racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia are growing and the people who should be fighting against it are fighting their allies and calling them names instead.

The intolerant church…

I clicked the link to an article a couple of days ago about a woman who had her church membership revoked for being in a four year long same sex relationship. The name of the church was familiar then I realized it was that Calvary Baptist Church. I passed it every day when I worked and I still pass it on a regular basis. It’s within walking distance of my home.

The church itself is huge. The main building looms at the corner of Rossland and Ritson and it has a big enough membership to afford a huge animated billboard (that runs 24/7) and the church across the street.

Every time I’ve gone past that church, I’ve felt a queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach, a knowledge that I would not be accepted there as myself. I’m an atheist, asexual, and interested romantically in all genders. I’m also pro trans rights and have a son who’s transgender (even if he’s not interested in transitioning at the moment). And now I’ve had it verified that I would not be accepted at all.

It’s easy to pass the church and know I wouldn’t be accepted. It’s not a church I’d want to attend anyway. The hard part is how big that church is. How many people attend there? I’d guess at least a hundred. My neighbours? The cashier at the grocery store? The elderly couple who smiled and said hi as we passed each other outside? If I do manage to find someone to date, what would their reactions be? I feel safe walking around my neighbourhood now. Would I still feel safe if I held hands with a girlfriend?

Calvary is the church that came under media attention but there’s another church, the Embassy, to the west of us. It is even bigger than Calvary, a gargantuan church that requires police assistance to guide cars out of their parking lot after service. There are that many people. I’ve never attended there but I’ve seen some of their flyers and listened to people on the bus. It’s also evangelical. How many of my neighbours attend there? How many sermons have they heard that were against the LGBTQIA community? I feel pinned between the two churches, hemmed in by hatred.

I feel badly for the woman who received the letter. She’d been a member for years and volunteered to help with the children there. She considered it her spiritual home even though they had preached against the LGBTQIA community before. I’ve dropped some pretty blatant hints but have never actually come out, in person, and told friends or family that my romantic interests are not solely for men. I’ve been too worried. She came out to her church friends and got thoroughly rebuffed. I can only imagine how hard that must have been for her. And still she went back right until they told her she was no longer welcome.

I wish her all the best in her search for a welcoming congregation, the United Church and UU church both have that distinction. And I will continue to be friendly with the people I meet and continue wondering if they’d accept me if they knew who I’m interested in.

Dear Parents, love your children…

Not just your straight, cisgender children but your rainbow children too. My heart is breaking over little Anthony Avalos, who’d been abused for years alongside his siblings, but killed after he came out gay. He was young enough and innocent enough that he didn’t even come out as gay. He said that he “liked boys”.

He was failed in so many ways. People had called the Child Protective Services sixteen times over the years regarding multiple bruises on the children. He finally died of severe head injuries while covered in cigarette burns.

I remember reading a case a few years ago that was almost identical. A young, presumed to be gay boy, a history of abuse of all siblings, a final, fatal beating. The only difference was the boy was around kindergarten age.

And there’d been another case in 2013 where the son, Gabriel Fernandez had been assumed to be gay and was beaten to death while his siblings simply got ignored. Once again the calls about abuse were ignored and they continued with the beatings until he was dead.

That’s enough. Please let that be enough. It’s enough already that 40% of homeless youths are LGBTQIA, kicked out when they come out. It’s enough that 30% of all suicides are LGBTQIA, and it’s way too much that almost 65% of unsupported trans youths have contemplated suicide with 49% attempting.

There’s still conversion therapy with all it’s horrors. Not everywhere but it’s still lurking. The author of one article I read went to one such camp and was told, flat out, by the staff that half of them would be dead by the end. Soon, the youngest, had killed himself and, by the end, half the group was gone.

Little Anthony should be at the end of a month of celebrating being himself, the end of rainbows and confetti, and loud, happy parades. He should have strings of multi-coloured beads hanging off his bed and memories of being welcome. He should not be a tiny figure in a too large body bag.

Colin was six years old. I was taking a load of recycling over to the bins when he asked if he could marry one of his male classmates who he loved dearly. Another time he informed Kait that his heart was broken because he’d asked a boy out and got turned down. Within a year or two he was interested in girls but he certainly didn’t for a couple of years. My answer when I was asked about marriage was “yes you certainly can”, even though we were a few months away from equal marriage being legalized. He deserved the same love and attention as his sister and he got it.

Please, if you cannot handle raising an LGBTQ child, let them go. Call up CPS or CAS and tell them your child is gay or trans and their life is at risk under your care. I don’t care if you have to drop them off in front of the office and leave them there, just get them out of your care before you make them a statistic.

And, for the ones who are simply confused and unsure what to do, take a look into your local PFLAG. They will help you understand what’s going on and give you resources. If you have a local chapter, you can even meet up with other parents and talk about your questions and concerns.

But can we please have no more little rainbow children in body bags. Can we please let them grow?

Colin

An open letter by Kait…

Trigger warnings;

Mention/quotes of homophobic/transphobic comments, mention/quotes of emotional abuse, general fuckery, bullshit, and douchebaggery

An open letter to my father;

I am writing this, not for you, but for every parent like you. I honestly hope you leave us alone, including not reading Mom’s blog anymore, but I know you won’t, so I might as well address this to you.

This week, you showed your true colours, not just to us, but to everyone who saw your birthday post on Emma’s Facebook wall. You planned a month in advance, a post in which you intentionally dead-named and misgendered her, and tried to disguise it as a loving birthday wish. When you planned it, you told me you wanted to start a fight, you said you hoped it would make Mom angry enough to confront you, or at least get some of her friends commenting at you.

I guess you got your wish.

You used every chance you could to antagonize people further, and when you couldn’t find a legitimate way to escalate the fight, you would make things up out of thin air. By the time everything was said and done, you had lost both of your daughters. We both blocked you, and I wrote you off as a lost cause.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, you called Emma yesterday, claiming you wanted to comment your apology on the thread, and asking to be unblocked. Emma hadn’t totally written you off yet, so she unblocked you, without demanding a private apology first. You then claimed that there was nowhere to comment, and when she asked how you would apologize, you told her that you had gotten what you needed, by copying the beginning bits of the conversation to prove to somebody that you “tried” to apologize. That was when Emma wrote you off as a lost cause, too.

We all hoped that after the things you said publicly, this would be the end of the contact you would have with us (especially with Emma), but of course, that was not the case.

The messages you sent her today went way over the top. You sent multiple messages to her, just to tell her that you don’t think LGBT people are people, you think they should all be killed painfully, you want to watch the aforementioned killings, and that not only is she not your kid until she “realizes” she isn’t trans, but that you want your DNA back, because “it kills me u soiling my last name u freak”.

I don’t know at what point you became such a disgusting, pathetic, excuse of a person, or maybe you’ve always been like this, but just hid it better, either way; I hope that one day someone says those kinds of things about you. I’ll say one right now; I am ashamed to share a last name with you.

So, here are some questions, not just for you, but for every parent who feels the way you do;

Why does it matter to you so much that your child should be a boy, instead of a girl? If she was born with a vagina, would you have run out of the hospital room, screaming that she wasn’t yours unless she grew a penis?

How does it hurt you when she wears dresses, instead of jeans? Do her dresses turn into weird fabric snakes, and strangle you?

What’s the difference if she carries a purse, instead of a backpack?

How is it so offensive to you that she paints her nails?

Why does the fact that your daughter has a penis, mean that you love her any less?

Emma is my sister, and I will always stand with her. She drives me all the way up the wall, back down again, and around the whole bloody room, but she is still my sister. Changing her name, pronouns, and wardrobe, didn’t change who she is, or how much I love her. It sure changed who you were though.

To every homophobic, and/or transphobic parent out there;

If you wouldn’t say it to your newborn, don’t say it to your grown child.

If who your kid is, loves, or wants to be, could offend you so much that you’d stop loving them, don’t have children.

And if it’s too late, and you already have kids, do them a favour and walk out quietly, to leave them with the family members that actually deserve to interact with them.

Sincerely,

Kaitlyn

Proud big sister of a transgender, lesbian, little sister

Scattering kindness…

Some days it feels like there’s so much cruelty in this world that the earth can barely contain it. From pure evil to petty meanness, it saturates our lives to the point where it’s overwhelming. It becomes hard to notice anything else. But there is something else that’s equally strong. Kindness.

Kindness grows like dandelions through concrete… seemingly impossible until it’s there. It spreads and scatters in small amounts that appear almost pointless. What can a simple smile do compared with war and starvation? But it keeps trying. It’s spreads and it grows.

Today Julie and I are protesting against the gay concentration camps in Chechnya. It is a little protest in a little city in Canada. Ramzan Kadyrov, the region’s leader, will never hear of our protest. On the surface it seems pointless.

But every person who passes us today has the chance to think of LGBTQ rights and the prejudice against us. Every person has the chance to think on their own views and perhaps modify them a bit, which then impacts their families. With each protest, more families are touched and the greater the impact. Then it’s noticed.

Politics is often a popularity game. What can a politician do to please the constituents and get elected again. A positive view on the LGBTQIA community and a desire to do something about those camps will get noticed by more and more and will, hopefully, get added to foreign policy.

Each one of us is but a simple light but together we make up all the stars in the universe. Let your light shine. It might be small but it matters. You matter.

protest

Remembrance Day revisited…

CN: discussion of violence and prejudice

I stand on my balcony and can see Lake Ontario. On a clear day we stand on the shore and look across the lake at Buffalo. This has never scared me until now.

I went online yesterday and my news feed was flooded with stories of hatred and violence. A friend of mine has an openly gay ten year old who was terrified to go to school… to the point of stress vomiting. He’s been taunted since kindergarten, this fear is something new.

Another friend of mine had a pick up truck, with a poorly shored confederate flag, nearly hit him at high noon. The driver stopped and jumped out screaming “fucking faggot” before heading into the nearby post office. My friend wasn’t sure who he was more scared for, himself or the solitary black woman operating the office. Luckily both were fine.

After my friend posted, one of his friends chimed in to say she’d just had passengers tell her to flash them in order to get a tip. Pro tip, that’s not how taxis work. But maybe that’s how they work in Trump’s new United States… if the driver is female and the passengers are male.

Yet more friends are panicking about getting IUDs inserted before January 20th or getting married before that time. One’s researching nursery schools in Canada while others half joke about marrying a Canadian citizen.

I’d expected the hatred and violence to start slow and increase. Instead it poured out as if a flood gate was opened, starting with a bottle bashed over a gay man’s head because this is Trump’s America now. It moved on to school children drawing and shouting “build a wall” while their classmates cried. To high school students scribbling racial slurs and graffiti about white pride. To grown men harassing and groping women because it’s their right under Trump.

And, through it all, Trump stayed silent.

Well, not exactly silent. He complained about people being mean to him on Twitter and placed Ben Carson, the man who thinks the pyramids were grain silos, into the position of the head of the Department of Education. The masses will now become even more uneducated but they’ll know the Bible right down to every last hate filled corner. I don’t think the more positive and altruistic verses will have a place in Trump’s world.

I’m terrified for my friends. For my black and brown friends and my gay and pan friends, for my friends who “don’t pass” and my friends who do, for my friends who hold their LGBTQ children close and hope for the next four years. And I’m scared for those of us living in the US’s shadow, because if Trump starts lobbing bombs, just because they’re there, that border is not going to hold back retaliatory radiation.

On this cold and quiet Remembrance Day, I feel like history is repeating itself.

poppies-and-full-moon

Poppies under the full moon

Seventy-two hours…

Content Note: frank discussion of suicidal thoughts

It was a gorgeous day. I carefully packed my bag for group therapy. Water, notebook, phone, sparkly pen, tissues. I didn’t usually bring Chapstick but was reasonably sure I was going to get admitted to the hospital. It went into the bag as well. I should have gone to group the day before but I’d been crying for most of the night and was too exhausted when my alarm went off. Today I was determined to go.

The therapy class was more of a holding class until space was available in the main group. Most of my classmates had already moved up (I was due to move on Monday) and only three of us were left. Everyone else was new. And quiet. My group spilled out everything in the introduction. This group shared first names and ages, nothing else. The instructor tried to start up a group conversation only to have it fizzle. Then she tried again.

“Yes?” she asked. Why was she staring at me? And when had I raised my hand? What should I say?

“I’m thinking about suicide,” I replied.

Apparently that.

“Thinking or planning?”

“Planning”

“Not every suicidal thought is serious,” she pointed out. “Sometimes people think about suicide but have no intentions of following through. Is this something you intend to do?”

Jeremy had brought in my fairy garden the night before so I didn’t need to go onto my balcony. Several nights earlier I’d messaged a friend in tears and sat chatting with her on Facebook until Jeremy came home, terrified I’d jump. And I couldn’t stop thinking that it would be like flying… and then nothing. I couldn’t keep living like that and, while I wanted to die, I didn’t want to hurt anyone. Someone was going to be hurt finding me and it was going to happen sometime soon.

“Yes,” I said quietly. Every single person in the room was staring at me.

“I can’t hear you,” she said.

Seriously? Like this wasn’t hard enough already.

“Yes,” I said a bit louder and nodded for emphasis. She informed me I needed to see her at the end of class.

Class ended, she arranged for someone to cover her next appointment, then set off with me through the back halls of the hospital… right back to where Karen and I started a month and a half earlier. Thankfully this time the waiting room speaker had been disabled. Once again we went through triage and to the nurse’s station.

“She needs to be put on a form one,” the instructor said urgently.

Form one? Oh, she’d discussed this in class. That was a seventy two hour involuntary admission. As long as there was a bed somewhere relatively quiet I didn’t care. I’d only been up for three hours at that point but I was already exhausted.

I saw a doctor next. All I remember is him handing me paperwork explaining my involuntary admission and that the number 42 was on top.

42 ~ the meaning of life. There wasn’t anyone to share that bit of information with. Security was on the other side of the room, carefully keeping an eye on me. A volunteer saw me hugging myself and gave me a sheet. A security guard told me I could have another one if I was still cold and warned me I’d lose my phone soon and to copy down any numbers I needed. I knew Jeremy’s number, and my parents still have the same number from my childhood, but I didn’t know Karen’s number.

The psychiatrist called me into a room. It was bright and had plexiglass windows in the middle and a door. She sat down and gestured to the seat in front of her. Had anything happened recently?

A madman shot up a bar.

But that was half a continent away in a different country and would bring up too many questions.

“My boyfriend and I broke up at the beginning of May,” I said hesitantly. Hesitant because I’d answered these questions multiple times before and pretty much knew what to expect.

“Who instigated the break up?”

“It was mutual,” I replied quickly. It hadn’t been but I didn’t particularly want to get into blaming. “It wasn’t a good time for a relationship, there was lots going on.”

“Like what?” she asked, leaning forward.

Great.

“We’re both struggling with mental health issues and [boyfriend] has some physical health issues too.”

“And what else? You said lots.”

“[Boyfriend]’s just starting his transition,” I replied. Maybe she would know what transition meant.

“What does that mean?”

And maybe not.

“Gender transition,” I replied.

“Oh… he’s going from male to female?”

“Umm no. He’s…” [Boyfriend] wouldn’t want to be described as female in any way but I couldn’t think of a way to explain.

“So he was born female. Did you know this ahead of time?”

I nodded and was relieved when she didn’t appear shocked like the last professional. Although leaning back in her seat wasn’t much of an improvement.

If I fall in love with a woman, would that be seen as wrong?

The questions went back to suicide and the final question, “If we released you, would you feel safe?”

It would be like flying… and then nothing. I remembered curling up in my chair, hugging my stuffed animal, scared to even go near my balcony and shook my head.

“Okay, follow me,” she left the room and gestured to a security guard, the same one who’d offered me a second sheet earlier.

This time he gave me pants, complete with a hole in the front, and a three armed shirt. I knew what the hole was for though I’d never worn pants with one before. The shirt left me baffled.

“Here,” he said as he took back the shirt and mimed putting it on. It wrapped around so that one arm went through two holes. Then he took all my belongings and gave me a pair of blue throwaway slippers with a seam across the soles.

I spent most of my time in emergency sleeping, which I’m sure relieved the guards. Actually, I know it did because one commented on it as he relieved the other.

“Whew,” the second guard said. “It sounds like an easy shift.”

One guard gave me a heated blanket when I started shaking and talked with me about books. He told me about a new movie too but my thoughts were too scattered and I couldn’t remember the title. It sounded interesting through.

I stayed in the emergency room hallway until 8pm, missing both lunch and dinner, before being wheeled to the psychiatric ward. It’s a small ward with a P shaped hallway, a TV room with plastic chairs, and a cafeteria that doubles as an entertainment room. The blinds are tucked away behind a window pane so no one can hang themselves. The mirrors are silvered metal. And there’s no bag in the garbage can. Meals are served at 8am, noon, and 5pm with a plastic fork and spoon. Have you ever buttered cold toast with a spoon before? It’s, umm, interesting. And chewy. The toast, not the spoon.

I’d been terrified of going into the ward. I knew I needed the help but had no idea what to expect other than, well my mind drew a blank. Honestly, while I hated being locked in… unable to leave, the ward itself wasn’t bad. The nurses were uniformly kind and the patients were friendly and understood “sorry, I’m getting overwhelmed… I’m going to have to go lie down”. I made three friends immediately and we hung out together, playing cards, colouring in those intricate adult colouring books, and singing. I’d been told that people don’t like to remember being in the psychiatric hospital but the other patients showed no sign of that. Multiple times I heard people conversing and reminiscing about previous visits. Remember so and so from two visits ago? He’s here now. Oh hi doctor! I was your patient during my last admission.

One thing that I love about this hospital is that the ward is mixed gender. During my stay there was one very effeminate gay young man who was much happier and comfortable hanging around the women and one young person struggling with gender dysphoria who had no idea what their gender was. Considering they commented on hacking off their long hair to buzz cut length because they’d have died if they didn’t, I think being forced into a women’s only section and female garb would have been very detrimental. And, yes, I did assure them it’s normal to be unsure of your gender and that it can take years to sort out.

some won't come and that's okay

People say that you learn who your real friends are when you hit your lowest point and that is so true. One of my friends, who I trusted completely and was positive would always be there, walked away from me completely during this time. It was a heartbreak and one I’ve sobbed about more than once. However that friend’s abrupt departure was more than offset by the number of people who walked in. The friends sharing messages of hope and love. My fellow patients who repeatedly commented on my kindness and showed me kindness of their own. And the anonymous person who left a spray of daisies on my bed the day I left the hospital.

I have no idea about the future. Right now I’m considered emotionally fragile by the psychiatric team, too fragile for the group I was to attend. But I’m feeling better now than I have in years and am ready to take each day one step at a time.

coming home

Me leaving the hospital after a week’s stay with one of my anonymous flowers.