Content Note: Mentions of suicide, trans/homophobia, saneism
Nearly every day for the past five months, give or take, I’ve had a moment when I glance out the window onto my street and think to myself, “I was never supposed to be here.”
This feeling isn’t new to me – I’ve dealt with “survivor’s guilt” in some form for years now – but the feeling intensified when I moved to my new apartment.
You know, the apartment that I feel like I don’t deserve for some reason or another.
Here’s the honest truth: People like me? Mentally ill queer kids, the ones that get their homophobia or transphobia with a side of psychosis? The ones whose trauma isn’t just a meal but comes with an appetizer and a fucking dessert?
This world isn’t made for us.
How would I know that? I’ve lived it.
And I don’t think I would have been so persistent about ending my life all those years ago if this were a world that saw me, validated me, affirmed me. If this were a world that had a place for me. If this were a world that held space for me.
I know this because it took me years to sit beside the window instead of dangling out of it, held in place only by someone’s hand clinging desperately to my shirt collar, because to be queer was one thing but to be queer and crazy was another thing entirely.
There has never been a moment when I’ve forgotten that I am both. I’m not allowed to forget.
I remember it when the psychiatrist advises that I not pursue hormones because I could just be manic and not trans; I remember it when another trans person says to me, “I’m glad that gender identity disorder is no longer in the DSM. It’s not like trans people are crazy.”
But I am.
I remember it when I recall the mere inch that came between myself and my own death.
The names of those I knew and could’ve known that ended their lives still swirl around my brain, and all I can think about is how I’m here and they aren’t, and how senseless all of this feels.
Yes, I’m here. But it wasn’t for a lack of trying.
Sometimes the guilt is so painful that I’m convinced that some part of me is fractured – that if you peered inside, it’s almost certain that something in me is irreparably broken. That being a survivor that has watched people like me die, over and over, has left me in a permanent state of grief.
I am in a permanent state of grief.
When I have flashbacks to the moment I woke up, realizing I was still here, I find myself trembling and shaken, wondering why the world steals the light of so many queers but somehow left mine intact.
Why, after making self-annihilation my hobby for a time, should I be rendered whole in a world that despises our wholeness?
Why did I survive?
And it’s not that I believe that my life wasn’t worth sparing. It’s just that, when you watch your comrades, your community, your friends dying all around you, you can’t help but wonder why it was them and not you.
Well-meaning friends tell me, “Remember to be grateful, too.”
But what they don’t understand is that there will always be another mentally ill trans kid like me, ready to follow through on what I failed to finish.
And I can’t just feel grateful when I know, in the back of my mind, that that kid is still out there.
Maybe I feel guilty for being alive because I’m conditioned to believe that people like me aren’t meant to exist in the first place.
Every day since my attempt there’s a scene that plays out in my head, where I’m banging on the closet door, trying to stop that kid from repeating my mistakes, begging them to let me in, begging them to stay, knowing that I can’t promise them that it will get better but I can do everything in my power to create a space for us.
Just one space.
Well-meaning friends say, “Yes, it’s horrifying, but you can’t dwell on that.”
Why can’t I dwell on that?
Do you know the overwhelming trauma of existing in a world that teaches you, from day one, to resist everything that you are?
And why should they act horrified when we destroy ourselves – why should they act surprised – as if that’s not what the world was asking of us all along?
They ask me not to dwell on this as if trauma is a garment you wear, as if we can forget who we are. Please listen when I say this: I can’t forget.
Well-meaning friends ask me, “Why do you write?”
But the better question is why I stayed.
And I stayed for the same reason that I write: Because so long as this world isn’t made for us, I have to keep fighting for a better world.