Trans Day of Visibility

Today, March 31st, is Trans Day of Visibility!

This is hosted by Trans Student Educational Resources, and this years theme is Trans Resistance.

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With these statistics it’s clear that today is a very important day!  This year 8 trans women have been murdered:

  • Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow
  • Mesha Caldwell
  • Jojo Striker
  • Jaquarrius Holland
  • Tiara Lashaytheboss Richmond
  • Chyna Doll Dupree
  • Ciarra McElveen
  • Alfonza Watson

All of these women were women of color as well. Last year twenty-seven trans people were murdered, making it the deadliest documented year for trans related murders. Although it is likely that there were even more murders that didn’t make the news or the victims weren’t reported as transgender. Trans day of visibility is described as “not a day for mourning: this is a day of empowerment and getting the recognition we deserve!” by the TSER. I fell like part of that recognition is shedding light on the tragedies this community has faced.

Another part of visibility is recognizing all the talented and outstanding trans people. Laverne Cox, Lea T, Geena Rocero, Chris Mosier, Rhys Ernst, and Sarah McBride are just a few people who are trans and have been incredibly successful in their respective fields. Trans people are all around us and always have been. They’ve been influential in many fields as well as the fight for equality.

Trans people deserve to more than just visible. They deserve respect, adequate health care, resources, and so much more. With laws attempting to prohibit transgender people from being visible in day to day life like HB2 or the laws being considered in Texas, visibility is more important than ever.

If you’re trans, happy trans visibility day! You deserve love and respect, and are going to do great things. You are valid and seen.

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

 

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It Could Be Worse

I hate this saying.

I see it a lot from abled-bodied people in response to those who are disabled/ chronically ill. It’s also something I struggle with internally. I tell myself that I shouldn’t complain or voice my experience because there are people who are more sick than I am or have a harder situation in life. Being undiagnosed I tell myself ” at least it isn’t _, I have it a lot better than them and should be more grateful!”

Yes it could be worse, it could always be worse. No one has had the end all be all of terrible situations; even when life sucks, it could suck even more. This statement only invalidates others struggles. How is telling someone that their situation could be worse going to help them?

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While I do have periods of time where I find it hard to bear and I begin to wallow in my own struggles, they are few and far between. Some level of depression or just general unhappiness comes with the territory of chronic illness. For some it’s all the time and for others it’s episodic, but even the most positive people have times where it all feels like too much.  In the times where it feels like life couldn’t be worse hearing that it could be isn’t going to help. Life isn’t a competition especially when it comes to hardships. Who wants to win for losing?

I can see why some people might think this is supposed to be uplifting and positive. While staying positive is a good thing when going through something difficult, telling someone “it could be worse so get over it” only silences them. Disabled and chronically ill people are already a people group who get silenced all the time or just left out of the conversation all together. There are so many things you could say to be helpful instead. For example….

  1. Is there anything I can do to help?
  2. I will pray for you (only if the person is religious/ is okay with you offering prayer) or sends positive thoughts
  3. That must be really hard, if you need someone to talk to, I’m always here.

Most of the time when people are going through something challenging they need someone to talk to or someone to sympathize with them. Very rarely is a reality check going to be a good option; chances are they understand the reality of their situation a lot better than you do. Also going through something tough and having someone else tell you all the ways it could be worse  only leads to the you thinking about how other things could go wrong.

Even if you don’t understand someones situation try to be sympathetic. There are a lot of things in life I will never be able to understand due to my privilege:  being white, middle class, living in America, but that doesn’t mean I can’t sympathize will people who are struggling with something different than I am. No two situations will ever be same, so let’s build each other up and be there for one another instead of invalidating others experiences.

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

 

Traveling while Chronically Ill

This weekend I’m going out of town to visit my sister at her University, so I thought this topic would be fitting. While I’m only going to be gone for a day this time, I use these tips on both short and long trips.

  1. Bring all of your meds!

Duh, right? My general rule is if I’m going to be more than 45 minutes from my house I bring “rescue meds.” For me that includes pain meds (usually tramadol or torodol) and anti-nausea medicine ( always promethazine). I also like to check and re-check to make sure I’m bringing all of the correct medications since missing a dose can  mess things up or just get you out of the habit of taking your meds.

2. Give yourself Time to Rest

When I’m out of town it’s usually to visit family or I’m on vacation. It’s easy to push yourself and keep up with other people, but in many cases this will end with you crashing and burning. Knowing your limits and sticking to them can help you save the energy you need to complete all the things you had planned for the trip.

3. Look up Restaurants before you go

This one doesn’t really apply to me, but I have been on a few different restrictive diets over the years and they make eating out difficult. Spontaneity is fun, but going to a restaurant where you can’t eat anything or at least nothing you like is frustrating. It’s can also be difficult to decided on a restaurant in the moment when traveling with other people so planning ahead is a good idea.

4. Inform those you’re traveling with

The few times I’ve traveled without my family I always found it helpful to tell at least one person about my health issues. In case of emergency someone needs to know what meds you’re on and what chronic illnesses you have. If one of your medications has a side effect that may be a problem while you travel then they need to know that as well. For example last Summer I went to the beach with a church group and one of my meds had a “beware of excessive exposure to sunlight” warning. Since we were going to be in the sun a lot I needed to let someone know I was at a high risk for heat-stoke. Even though I don’t like sharing  details about my health with able-bodied people that aren’t my family ( expect through the internet apparently, isn’t that ironic?) it’s better safe than sorry.

5. Have a plan in case of emergency

This tip goes with the last one. Make sure you have your doctor’s phone number on hand and travel with someone who can help you get emergency assistance if needed. If you’re traveling alone let a friend or family member know your plans and check-in with them.

 

I’m sure there’s a million more things to do / be weary of when traveling while chronically ill, but this is just a few. What are some things you do to make traveling easier? Do you have any “spoonie travel hacks?”

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

True Crime and Tragedy as Entertainment

I found this post from ContagiousQueer really thought provoking. They brought up many good points about how our society turns tragedies into entertainment. Give it a read!

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Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about using real life pain, tragedy, and abuse as entertainment. A part of this comes from listening to the podcast Missing Richard Simmons, in which one journalist looks into the enthusiastic fitness instructor’s rather sudden retreat from public life a few years ago and the turmoil that the show caused. Listening to that show felt weird at so many moments and Amanda Hess over at the New York Times nailed exactly why it felt so invasive.

There are so many other examples similar to Missing Richard Simmons that are based on that same sort of premise: using and telling someone else’s story in a very public way. Many (but not all) of these productions are about events that are traumatic and violent, making them moments that I’m sure not many would want to constantly relive on a public stage.

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Why are you here?: Chronically Misunderstood

This one is going to be a bit of a back story, but I’ll make it quick. At the time I in high school and it was my freshman year. The school I went to really didn’t like that I was absent a lot and made me jump through a lot of hoops in order to “make up my time.” This had happened for the past two years I was in middle school as well, but their obsession with me being in school makes this story funny to me. Also at this time doctors thought I had abdominal migraines also known as cyclical vomiting syndrome.

I walked into school late and went to check in  before heading to class. Normally I would go to my house office, but the secretary at the front desk stopped me and asked me my name. When I told her who I was she looked me up in the computer system which I thought was odd. I had come into school late a lot and no one ever questioned me. Normally I just went to the office, got a note, and was on my way.

The lady started to look really confused and said, “you aren’t supposed to be here.” I didn’t know what to say to that. Here I am at school, specifically at a school that get’s very angry when I’m absent yet this lady is telling me I’m not supposed to be here? “You’ve been counted absent for the whole day,” she told me. I responded with, “I don’t know why, I didn’t tell anyone I was going to be gone all day.”

She furiously tapped away on the computer and I just stood there throughly confused. She walked away into the main office and came back looking relieved. She exclaims, rather loudly I might add, ” OH YOU’RE STOMACH MIGRAINE GIRL!” I guess I had developed a reputation. “Yeah…” I replied trying not to laugh. For some reason being stomach migraine girl made everything okay and she let me go on my way. I’m still honestly not sure what that situation was all about, but it was funny nonetheless.

Tell me a funny or weird story about your high school experience!

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

Being on Your Own Timeline

In the U.S. and especially in the suburbs there’s a pattern to life that your assumed to follow.

Graduate high school, go straight away to a University, graduate college in four years, get your first job, get married, have kids, etc.

I was raised to believe this is the only way to be successful in life, but after having my life interrupted by chronic illness and having to pave a different path for myself I’ve learned just how wrong that is. Everyone does things at their own pace; some people aren’t mature enough to go to college straight out of high school or can’t financially make ends meet so they have to work before going to school. For other people college just isn’t the right choice for them, or they choose to go back to school later in life.

While I am definitely pro-education and believe, given the opportunity, you should obtain as much education as possible, I can see that there are situations that can make that difficult or near impossible. You don’t have to have life figured out at 22, or even your own life figured out.

While there’s always going to be a lot of external pressure to follow a certain timeline, only you can know what’s best for yourself. Right now it’s best for me to be out of high school while I pursue my GED and get my health on track, to other people the decisions I’ve made may not be what they think is right, but I don’t believe you can speak to experiences you haven’t had.

Every time I meet someone new there’s always a million questions about school and extra curricular’s. I don’t feel the need to tell my sob story to everyone I meet so I often tell them the town I live in and let them make their own assumptions. Occasionally I’ll tell people the things I used to do when I was in school without mentioning I don’t go there anymore, but that’s normally when I’m uncomfortable with all the questions and feel like I’m being judged.

It’s crazy how narrow minded people can be. I try to put myself in other peoples shoes and examine situations from all aspects the best that I can. There isn’t one correct way to live life and I think this plan we’ve created as a society and seem to believe everyone should follow to a T can be really detrimental. You’re not a failure if your life doesn’t look like the majority of your peers, friends, or family members. You also don’t have to have the same dreams and goals as everyone around you.

Be yourself and do things on your own timeline!

Alyssa

When We Rise

When We Rise is a four part mini-series documenting the journey of LGBTQIA+ activists Cleve Jones, Roma Guy, Ken Jones, and Cecilia Chung who were leaders in the civil right’s movement which later turned into the Gay right’s movement.

As someone who is a part of then LGBTQ+ community and is too young to have been alive during the time of many of these historical events I believe it’s very important to educate myself on Queer History and culture. We don’t learn these things in school and they definitely aren’t in our textbooks. Even the biggest events like the Stonewall Riots were never spoken of in any classroom I’ve been in. Our textbooks are white-washed and filled with the the accounts of straight white men, so it’s up to us as individuals to learn about the history that the rest of society actively tries to erase.

When We Rise covers Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the AIDS epidemic, police relations with the queers community, and marriage equality. While none of this was news to me, it was quite heart wrenching to see it played out. I think ABC did a good job showing just how brutal the world was to the LGBTQ+ community during the 1970’s. One critique I have of the series is it is mainly based in New York and San Francisco, which is where the movement took place so it makes sense, but this doesn’t show how much more danger people were in when living in different areas in America.

I thought one thing they did really well was covering the AIDS epidemic. It was incredibly informative and if you had never been told about the governments response ( well lack there of ) then this would be very eye opening. They showed the resilience of the community and how they banned together during this difficult time. We lost nearly an entire generation of queer men and a lot of people don’t realize that.

I would have liked to see LGBTQ+ people play these roles and I’m not sure why the casting directors chose not to cast queer people for the majority of the roles. I looked up pictures of many of the real people in this series to see if they chose actors who looked like them, but that really wasn’t the case. They were great actors and did a good job, but I think queer people should play queer roles in films and on TV.

Overall despite a few things I would change, this was an amazing series and couldn’t have come at a better time. It was raw and didn’t hold back or sugar coat any situation. When We Rise showed the revolution and resilience of the community like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I think everyone, gay or straight, should watch this mini-series and learn about this piece of history that we often don’t shed a light on. We are still living the “LGBT civil rights movement” with things like the bathroom bill in North Carolina being passed, revoking the protection of trans kids in public schools, and the laws in Texas that are being considered right now.

Did you watch When We Rise? What did you think?

Lots of Love,

Alyssa