Emerging Scholars Fellowship: 5 Reasons You Should Be a Transgender Ally and Advocate

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Quintin is a researcher in the 2016 class of the Emerging Scholars Fellowship. Read blog updates from Quintin and his fellow scholars here.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I expected to learn a lot about what it means to be trans and its relation to suicide when I began this project. However, I have been surprised with how much I also identify with the issues that were discussed.

quintin and brotherEssentially, I am a bleeding heart and I believe in supporting anyone that might be considered an underdog. I am passionate about understanding suicide and suicide prevention because my brother took his own life when I was eight years old (see picture with eight-year-old me and Eric, my brother). I expected to be able to get on board with suicide in the trans community because I do not want more people to have to go through what I went through losing a brother to suicide.

However, I found that the issues these transgender youth talked about are things I too have experienced.

1. If you have ever felt like family members just don’t get you or support you, you can understand. Most any person that has ever had family can understand what it’s like for a family member to not believe you or question a decision you’ve made. This might have been really frustrating when your parents didn’t approve of your boyfriend, or of your college major. It was annoying when you came home and they asked when you’re going to get a real job or finally settle down and have kids. Now imagine those experiences are about something much more integral to who you are inside.

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Emerging Scholars Fellowship: Reflections and FAQs on Working with Trans Youth

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Quintin is a researcher in the 2016 class of the Emerging Scholars Fellowship. Read blog updates from Quintin and his fellow scholars here.

01-trans-child-big-ss-225x300When I began the project for the Active Minds Emerging Scholar fellowship, a qualitative examination of the experiences of suicide in trans*-identified youth, I expected to learn a lot about the experience of being trans*. I expected to have some emotional reaction due to the heavy content of suicide and discussions of wanting to die. I did not expect to have such emotional responses because the experiences hit so close to home.

I’ve had a great deal of trouble writing this post that is becoming more and more needed. As I’ve struggled to write this I learned of the passing of Prince. Prince was one of the key influential artists for my adolescence. Like any kid in high school in the 90s, every party included 1999 on its playlist.

Prince, famously known for going by an unpronounceable glyph that had a striking resemblance to the symbols for both male and female genders, for dressing in women’s underwear and raincoats in high school, and for loving anything purple, was an example to me and the rest of the world that there is not one right way to be a man. This pressure to be the right kind of man or right kind of woman is something transyouth commonly identify as a reason for wanting to die.

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Suicide and Families: What Should We Talk About?

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Quintin is a researcher in the 2016 class of the Emerging Scholars Fellowship. Read blog updates from Quintin and his fellow scholars here.

Sometimes it’s hard to explain to people what I do for school/work. I work with a lot of depressed folk and talk about suicide. I’m also studying the suicide experiences of trans-youth. It doesn’t make for great topics for parties. Usually people nod and don’t say much; then they slowly drift away. Despite the poor fit for party topics, I still talk about it—because it’s important to me; almost invariably I have one tear-filled bonding experience with someone who’s been depressed and desperate for someone to talk to.

Dr. Brene Brown, talks about the power of this connection in her TEDTalk, The Power of Vulnerability. She says, “The two most powerful words when we’re in struggle: me too.” After spending hours upon hours listening to trans youth talk about their experiences with depression and suicidality, that quote sticks in my head. These kids are not deviants—they are people desperate to survive. They are desperate to hear someone accept them and struggle with them.

brene brown quote

 

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