Transgender Suicide: How This LGBT Person Copes with Suicidal Thoughts
When Shear Avory was a child, they’d look out the window and hope. For the bullying to stop. For conversion therapy to end. For Mom.
“I was constantly in a space of being unaccepted, unwelcomed and put down,” said Avory, who identifies as transgender and uses the personal identity pronouns they/them/theirs. “I think from those experiences, I’ve always held on to hope. … I had nothing else to rely on.”
Avory, 20, first began having suicidal thoughts as a kid. Avory’s mother, Amber Baker, had a substance abuse disorder. Avory was raised in Pasadena, California, by their father, who sent Avory to conversion therapy, the controversial practice of trying to change someone’s sexual identity. At age 10, Avory became a foster child. Five years later, Avory reunited with Baker, but the relationship was uneasy. Avory would return to foster care three times.
“That’s when I started really thinking about suicide,” Avory said. “I had thought about it before, in the system, and especially with my father, but at that time I just felt like: What’s the point anymore? There’s just no happiness. I don’t see an end game. I don’t see this getting any better.”
Suicide is “a major public health crisis in the LGBTQ community,” said Amit Paley, CEO and executive director of the Trevor Project, the largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ youth.
Paley says there isn’t reliable data on the number of LGBTQ people who die by suicide because there’s no consistent way of recording sexual orientation and gender identity data upon death.
The stress of prejudice and discrimination, as well as feelings of social isolation, are risk factors for suicide, according to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC), and Paley says they are common among people who identify as LGBTQ. On the other hand, family acceptance, connections to friends and a sense of safety are considered factors that protect against suicide.
“You may feel like, ‘I am the only gay person in my community,’ or ‘I’m the only trans person in my town,'” Paley said. “Those are feelings that can increase the risk of suicide. Our message is, ‘You’re not alone. There are many people who will celebrate who you are.’”
Avory still feels fragile some days, still lost. But focusing on healing and moving forward with life helps. Avory moved to Washington, D.C., this February with a partner they call their “anchor,” and is continuing to search for purposeful work. Avory finally found a therapist, a queer woman of color, whom they trust completely. After years of conversion therapy and sporadic treatment in foster care, finally feeling connected to a therapist is no small feat.
For now, Avory is focused on accepting the past and carving out a different future. Hope, they said, remains.
“I’m not going anywhere,” Avory said. “I can take pride in knowing that I’ve already made something of myself. … I’m alive.”
Excerpted from “Young, transgender and fighting a years-long battle against suicidal thoughts.” Read the full article in USA Today.
Source: USA Today | Young, transgender and fighting a years-long battle against suicidal thoughts, https://www.usatoday.com/in-depth/news/investigations/surviving-suicide/2018/11/28/transgender-suicide-how-lgbt-person-copes-suicidal-thoughts/2135541002/ | © 2018 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Satellite Information Network, LLC
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