Thursday, October 07, 2010

My Story Part 47 – The Education Of Diana

My background is white middle class, and all of my 50 years; the number of blacks or Latinos that I knew was probably less than a dozen or so. All my friends were middle class and white. All my life I never knew anyone who made their living on the streets. All my life I never knew anyone who had AIDS/HIV. All my life I never knew anyone who had attempted suicide and all my life I never knew anyone who had. All my life I never knew anyone who was fired for because of whom they were.

All that changed ten years ago when I came out.

When I started going to support groups, most the clientele were still all most all white middle class people. It wasn’t until I started volunteering at the Connecticut TransAdvocacy Coalition that I started to meet people of a diverse background. I met a woman who was born in the south and when she came out to her parents, they threw her out and she had to live off the street. When she was arrested and the police found out she was male bodied, they beat her. Over the years, she found her way north and lived in homeless shelters. Eventually she found a minimum wage job and with state assistance, she has her own apartment. Another trans-person was in what the person thought was a monogamous relationship, but the partner didn’t and as a result the trans-person got AIDS. I never knew anyone who was a cutter, let alone knowing what that meant, now I know close to a dozen. I was on a panel discussion for second year med students last week and some one I known for five or six years said that he was a cutter and showed his scars to the students. Every once in a while, a person stops coming to the support group and later I find that they had attempted suicide. We had some one in the support group who was planning to transition and when she told her employer of over twenty years, they laid her off.

Why am I telling you this? It is because everything I just told you was not because they are trans, but because of what society does to some one who is trans. There is a difference, a BIG difference between the two. Being transgender does not cause any of this, what does cause this is society’s pressure to conform that causes all the suffering. These symptoms are all the classic effects of a marginalized community. They are the invisible people. The ones who are all around us, but we just don’t see.

When I started going for my Master’s in Social Work, my field advisor kept asking my about my support network and I didn’t know what she was getting to, but then it dawned on me, she wanted to know who was there for me to talk about the suffering that I would see as a part of my internship. A couple of weeks ago, I needed that support network. I am receiving an education that I never dreamed.

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