The Reason Ships Sink
“Ships don’t sink because of the water around them. They sink because of the water that gets in them.”
This quote is the single best example of life as a transgender individual that I have ever come across. We as a people have an ocean of sources telling us that we have no right to be ourselves. Speaking from personal experiences I know how consuming the fight to justify myself in society can be. There are political ads about us going to pee. No other group in modern western society has to fight for the right to pee. We have families that say “you will always be Johnny to me.” We have uneducated people who say that we have a mental disorder and we need to get help. They ignore the fact that there are countless research articles and doctors in the world that say differently. We are a small fleet of ships living in the turbulent sea of change. Our calls to arms from our allies have gone answered, half hearted. Transgender protections are edited out of bills and legislation in order to increase the chances of them passing. Other than our occasional safe harbors in groups or whatever your sanctuary may be, we are largely left to bail water out of our boats alone in order to keep them from sinking. I know at times the fight to be me has almost taken my life and it has taken the lives of too many of our brothers and sisters.
So how do we fix it? What do we do to change the crashing waves on the hull of our sanity? We build better ships. It is easy as that. We refuse to sink by making sure that our boat is strong. This is a call to arms for our own army. This is our fight to stand in this world without ridicule. It starts with the individual. Over the years I have met so many of us who are left with damage from their past. I have my share of heavy cargo also. Here is the bad word amongst our people “therapy”. The transgender boogie man to many of us. For years we have been required to get therapy in order to progress to hormones or surgery. For years misinformed “Professionals” misdiagnosed us and tried to “fix” us but that was then. Now there is a clinical recognition of our right to be us. Therapy and support groups are beautiful ways to help you strengthen the ship for stormy seas.
I spoke to a woman the other week very briefly while we both waited for our therapy appointments. We had an awkward exchange in the waiting room when I was reading a poster on the door and she walked in suddenly. It was one of those moments that your brain stops processing and you kind of stare at this person blankly. She walked by without saying a word at first, but the tension was there. It was stale in the air so I decided to acknowledge it and apologize. “I want to say sorry for that, I was reading and you surprised me. This is were you come to relax and unload and I made it awkward.” She gracefully said it was fine and went back to her phone. Moments later she said with a look of confusion on her face, “You come here to relax? I have been doing this for years and the world just gets more overwhelming.” We talked a moment and I told her the “Ships don’t sink because of the water around them. They sink because of the water that gets in them.” She leaned back and started to ponder the quote. About that time her therapist came out to get her for her appointment and we parted ways.
Two weeks later my therapist said that the woman had an epiphany after we spoke and she wanted to let me know. Our identity and mental health is such a huge part of our transition we need to make sure that in some form we find help. Support groups are a wonderfully affordable way to get help if you are struggling financially. Many therapist now specialize in fields of transgender and gender studies.
I wish each and everyone of my brothers and sisters the best in this world and if I could hold your hand and help you I would. We are many small ships that make a fleet.