Monday, March 3, 2014

Shelter Life - A Time of Deep Insight

In previous posts I have stated I was "100% passable," that essentially means I have no traits that are considered opposite of my gender identity, even my voice and face offer no reason for anyone to question my gender. While this has produced a lot of complications and resulted in discrimination by the medical industry, it did offer me a very unique position in the shelter system while I was a resident of it. I had informed the staff of my situation, only to reduce the risk of discrimination from them, but the other residents had no idea.

This was not a deception, nor a lie, I never once lied to the residents, they just made their own assumptions and accepted those without question. Who was I to correct them, right? It was their belief and they were, and are, entitled to those beliefs, it is not my right to shatter their beliefs with facts and reality. At the time I just really didn't care, shelter life was about living through the day, and nothing more.

But this very unique position, being an atheist and transgendered, helped me to become more critical of what the women said, their choices of words and conversations. They spoke so openly around me, since I never added anything to the conversations and they believed I was just like them. What I had heard was appalling, today I speak against it all the time, working to dispel the myths and misconceptions I had heard in these times I was incognito.

The very few who managed to figure out what I was, usually by some rather aggressive curiosity, still did not see me as any different than the others, just more informed and a great source of information. The more educated women often turned to me as their encyclopedia of obscure information, information that they had not even considered studying until they met me. I was the sage of the shelters for women, considered wiser than my age, but you had to ask the right questions, or you'd not get the right answers.

The conversations of the others, the ones who never had any reason to consider me different than they were, had become the focus of my attention very quickly. There were other transgendered women in the shelters, one who's brain was scrambled by psychiatric medications for problems she did not really have, another was very young and passable enough as to not be seen as much of a threat, and the last that I knew of was an older one who had fallen prey to the nonsense and become an alcoholic. All the the three were always treated so well to their faces, the women behaved with respect and even acted like they were best friends of these women.

But when these transgendered women were not present, the vile hatred that filled the conversations regarding them was a shocking contrast. Many of the things they said about the one who had given up were so horrible that I cannot repeat them legally, or morally. Sure, she had become weak, fallen into a pit of despair, allowing the negativity of those around her break her own resolve. But that was no reason to hate her, it was only a valid reason to pity, and try to help, this poor creature. But the women honestly hated her, and for reasons that defied logic.

They would refer to her in the inappropriate gender when she was not present, and often say it was unfair she was allowed in their shelter. Before I left, I had already signed my lease and was working to leave so I saw no reason to remain the observer, I confronted one, asking why it is they believed a shelter was a place for sexual activity. It was at that moment they realized just who had been watching them for all that time, who was taking notes, and the look of horror on their face, the raw guilt of knowing they were complicit, was worth having endured hearing those horrible words they spewed.

Last I had seen, she was no longer a bigot, but instead treated everyone equally. Such a drastic change in a person, I was given hope for humanity by it. The damage she had done could never be repaired, but she was no longer a threat to humanity because of one simple question. The transgendered woman is still in that deep dark pit though, sadly, it does not appear she has the strength to lift herself from it, drowning her pain in alcohol. She could help so many people with her own story, if only she'd see the value of them.

The younger one was very stereotypical, one of those transgendered women who seemed to be only interested in sex and clothing. When I first met her I thought she may be a lost cause, that some people will just be stereotypes. I did speak with her, often helping her out when I could, offering a hand in friendship to her as often as I could. The other women seemed to have almost no interest in her, even when she was out of sight they didn't gossip about her at all. It was as if those who fit the stereotypes were somehow better than those who didn't, to them. That bothered me more than the gossip though, accepting that stereotypes are better is essentially saying we are all robots with predefined personalities.

I could never bring myself to tell her how much damage she was doing to the transgendered community as a whole, because even if she was a stereotype, it was still her choice to be who she wanted to be. It was that internal conflict that probably encouraged me to be so kind to her, it never occurred to me that sharing my story may change profoundly alter her perspective. She was an interesting person, often upbeat and without a care in the world. I was envious of her at those times, how even the worst of life couldn't touch her.

At that time I had started getting into a routine, which is the worst thing to do when living in a shelter, you become a permanent fixture of that culture. It felt like I had lost the will to fight, the will to cause change in the world. So I just regarded her as a distant friend, one who I would help when I could, when it was convenient. I should have become more involved in her life and formed a much stronger bond, but hindsight is always better.

She got out of the shelter system before I had, of course she had discovered what I was before that and seemed to regard me with some pity, and some respect. I ran into her one day, much later, and it was like seeing a different person, not just different, but a complete person. Her knowing me had altered her own perception of herself so much that I now saw a beautiful young, intelligent, and secure lesbian.

A rather surprising turn in what I had known, she had broken free of living the stereotype and become someone unique who no longer cared what society thought, and no longer behaved how society expected her to behave. I felt as if I had just seen a daughter graduate from higher education, at least I imagine the feeling was the same. I do not know where she is now, but I am certain she is well and happy.

The third transgendered woman, the one who's mind was destroyed by psychiatrists, I had never known her prior to that. Though I could say she is the second friend of mine that psychiatry has killed. You see, I always defended her, stood up for her even against those in charge. She is also what has encouraged me to actively fight against psychiatry, to take it to their throats. She was a very well educated nurse, before the psychiatrists got hold of her, well adjusted, pleasant. The people who knew her before they killed her would reminisce about how great of a person she was.

I had made friends with many of the staff, and one in particular had known this woman for many years, and seen what horrible monsters the medical community is to transgendered people. The staff member was a cis woman, one of those women who truly treated everyone equally and had no hangups at all. I am honored to call her a friend, but it was her who had informed me of the sad tale of the transgendered woman who was slaughtered by psychiatrists in the guise of helping her.

She had an emotional breakdown, a very common thing for many humans, our minds can only take so much stress before this happens. The best treatment for such a case is to place them in a safe environment and allowing them to just work it out in their heads. This is the only treatment that has ever worked, ever. But that is not what they did. Instead, the psychiatrist used her being transgendered as an excuse to declare her unfit, then force her to take medications that completely destroyed her. That is murder, it is a form of murder that is not only legal, but considered acceptable by everyone.

When she was finally released her mind was completely shattered. She could no longer differentiate between reality and imagination, her perception of reality was so skewed that she could not even remain focused on one task. She had a place to live, but kept returning to the shelter, the last place she had ever felt safe in. She had to be reminded to bathe, could not manage her own bowels or urination, and went on incoherent rants.

She would let very few people near her, trust was gone, and rightfully so. With no friends, and the one time she trusted some stranger they killed her, she was lost in a maddening cloud of reality and delusion. I still cry thinking about it, knowing full well that if I give them a chance, they will do that to me as well, just for being different then them. The rather peculiar part, something very few people knew, was that she would talk to me. Though I could only understand some of what she said, I listened to every word.

I always treated her with respect, always kind to her, never once did I mock or get angry with her. Sometimes her delusion would overpower her behavior, and she'd become a bit of a nuisance, others would scream and yell at her, demanding she be quiet and settle down. I'd glare at them for a moment until they were all silent, then calmly, politely, and respectfully ask her to calm down. The sheer anger of the other women when she would apologize to me for being too noisy was something of a mixed emotion. On one hand, it felt good to let them know that I was more capable of handling the situation than they were, but it was a horrible notion to think that they did not understand why my method worked better.

All our lives, the transgendered people are told what we should do, how we should act, what we should be. All our lives we are considered outcasts yet also expected to conform to being outcast. We are rarely ever offered any real choice in our lives, we treat everyone with kindness, treat everyone equally, and offer help when we can. But when we need help, when we are forced to put ourselves into dangerous situations, we are the ones blamed for it, always. We are scorned, tormented, beaten, and discarded. People feign friendship, then wish us harm when we are not present, insult us when we make even a tiny mistake.

Is it not enough that we have more problems to deal with socially? No, of course not, the medical industry does not care about us, they are just as abusive to us. When the safest place for a transgendered is in the shelters, there is something wrong with your society. It's not our problem, it's not our flaw, it's society that is wrong. When hospitals turn us away for simple needs, or worse offer us to the butchers we call psychiatrists, where can we turn for our health? When everything we do right is considered wrong, why should we continue to conform to your ideals? When we abandoned by those we once cared about, why should we care about anyone but our own?

Society does not teach us well, young and old, the transgendered community has no reason to regard society as important, nor valuable to us. Yet, we are all still have such kind hearts as to still hold out our hands in aid, not only to our own, but to other people. Who is the purest in a society, if not the one who society harms most?

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