Pain and Suffering

For some reason over the past several years I have read a lot of posts (really) from other transwomen, either those in their journey of discovery to find out what they need, in transition, or afterward. All too often I see a lack of perspective. But this isn’t limited to trans people, it is exploited by many marginalized groups and it can be summed up by the paraphrase “My pain is worse/harder/more difficult/more righteous than your pain”, and it usually comes with a caveat of “You can’t understand my pain”. Does this bug you as much as it bugs me?

Don’t get me wrong. Being trans has been a very hard road. Having clinical depression was a hard road. Transition has too, and dealing with losses. Yet I can, with trivial effort list people dealing with other very intractable situations, things that make my issues at best some among many difficult circumstances.

  • A parent who has lost a child to murder, does this person ever recover?
  • The victim of war, expelled from her home, who lives through a hell we can only imagine searching for peace?
  • A victim of sexual abuse from a person of authority
  • The patient, hearing his doctor tell him that his condition is intractable.

And let us not forget that the world is still a place of hatred for those of a different race or religion in many, many places.

I don’t write this to depress you. I write this to say that the suffering of a trans person is eminently understandable. Unless one is quite young and quite sheltered, one has experienced pain and loss. Perhaps the one thing that has a spark of truth is that the trans person who has not sought release may never find relief, but these days that release is possible.

We should all of us understand that our pain is not unique and is not a competitive sport. I feel shame when I see posts about Caitlyn Jenner saying that her suffering is less or less important because she has means. While I’m sure her road is easier, who is the commenter to say what the impact has been and doubtless still is on her. Am I less of a trans person because I’ve had a good career and didn’t lose my job? What a farce! I feel badly for those that did and I guaranty that not a one would have refused to stay employed if that was possible.

When you see someone in pain, don’t ask if they are rich or poor, and refuse to judge them overmuch. At the least hear their story. We are none of  us an island and helping one another is not a zero sum game.


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