Building a More Resilient Transgender Community

The BILERICO Project
Brynn Tannehill
Original Article:

A few years ago when I was reviewing my company’s online suicide prevention training, I realized something. The slideshow had a list of "Suicide Protective Factors" listed. However, these "protective factors" are often unavailable to transgender people.

Here’s the list of preventative factors, and why transgender people often do not have these safety nets in place.

Optimism About Your Future

When you’re dealing with gender issues, it is tough to see a happy ending. If you do nothing, you’re still stuck, unless you can go back to a state of denial and cognitive dissonance. If you move forward, then you risk losing everything. This includes family, friends, children, spouse, savings, and romantic relationships.

Even after transition, even if you don’t lose everything, your gender identity and history can still severely limit your ability to change areas of your life you are unhappy with. For example, looking for a new job as a well-known transgender blogger can be difficult…

Strong Social Support from Family, Friends, and Co-Workers

When you come out, even those who don’t reject you can end up pulling back emotionally. Family and friends can distance themselves — even if they mean to be supportive — because transgender is so alien to them and they don’t know how to deal with it.

Co-workers? Sometimes you’re simply met with awkward silence. Some always look at you like something the cat vomited onto the carpet. Others may actually resort to verbal abuse, dead naming, and misgendering if they think they can get away with it.

In short, coming out as transgender can be intensely disruptive to your existing social support networks.

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