It goes without saying that New Year's Eve is a time for resolutions. For new beginnings. For starting over.
As this year draws to a close, I've found myself drawn to the story of Leelah Alcorn. Born Josh Alcorn, Leelah was a transgender teen in the Cincinnati area who took her own life on Sunday. She wanted only to be accepted for who she truly was -- a female born with male sex characteristics -- but was rejected by many people in her life, including her own parents. (The link above has more details on this, if you want a fuller background.)
My heart breaks for Leelah. As painful as it is to read her final words to the world, I think it's important for us as a society to share them. Maybe it will bring some understanding to other parents who are struggling with the idea of having a transgender child. Maybe it will help us as a society gain a greater understanding of the hardships and difficulties that transgender people face every. single. day.
I know that discussion of transgender issues can become heated. I know there is a severe divide in our society about whether or not transgender orientation is "real." I'm not trying to start a debate. I'm just trying to show my support. It may seem futile, but I want all transgender individuals out there to know: you might feel completely alone, but that is not true. You have at least one ally. In reality, you have hundreds, thousands even. But right here is one that you can give a face to. My name is Emma Frankart, and I support you.
If you are a transgender ally, I urge you to come forward as well. Make it your New Year's resolution to help spread the word. Post a Facebook status. Send a tweet. Write a blog post. Make a flier. It doesn't matter what you do. Just make it known. Maybe if Leelah had known how many people support her, she would have been able to hang on long enough to move out of her toxic home environment and start fresh.
I also want to take a moment to touch on the topic of depression as well. I've been pretty forthcoming here on the blog about my own struggles, past and present, with depression. Depression is the most isolating thing. When you're depressed, you feel as though you are stranded, completely alone on and island of yourself, unable to reach or be reached by anyone. This, too, is not true. Leelah's comments about friends who don't care about her really resonated with me, because I had those same feelings (albeit for different reasons). But if you're stuck on that island too, I promise you, those feelings are not reality. They are the lies that depression feeds you. Don't swallow them.
Please. If you are considering suicide, please know that it is NOT your only option, no matter how convinced you may be otherwise. It isn't. I'm not going to shove the "it gets better" stuff down your throat, because when you're depressed, there is no hope for better and the sentiment only comes off as trite and impersonal. An easy response. But if you are to the point where it seems things will never get better, just do one more thing before making a final, irreversible decision: Ask for help. If you don't have a trusted person close to you, call a hotline. It takes almost no effort; certainly less effort than any act that would end your life. The number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is just 10 digits long. You push more buttons when you're channel-surfing. (800) 273-8255. There will always be a person on the other end of the line who wants you to live.
I'm sorry to wrap up this year with such a sad post, but some things just need to be said. I've already started on the resolution I'm urging all allies to take. Now it's your turn.