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Suicide is not painless

I am hearing overnight that we lost another trans woman to suicide. While I did not know her personally, it still stings. Hard. Being trans is not easy. Being trans and having depression is even harder. I know that one first hand.

On a more personal level I have a friend whose trans partner is at this point right now. I got updated yesterday but for privacy won’t say more. Also one of my best friends in the whole world was sitting in a hospital room this time, last year because I ordered him to go to the ER when he called me overly depressed and suicidal. If we had been in the same state, I would have dragged his butt there myself. (He is ok now mostly.)

And honestly. I’ve had thoughts that scare the shit out of me before. Thankfully, I have this dude, pictured below, and now my girlfriend, to help ground me. Plus, you know, a therapist lol.

Anyway. I’ve gotten a bit rambley. All I can say is that if you’re trans, and feel you’re at your end, please call the Trans Lifeline. Here is their info:

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Mixed Emotions


Note: All source links are in cited in in-line comments.

I’m writing this after finally getting a chance to read over Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges. Today was a very monumental day in the history of the United States. for LGBTQIA people. The Supreme Court’s decision today to uphold the right of same-sex couples to marry is on par in historic nature with rulings such as Brown v. Board of Education, Loving v. Virginia, Lawrence v. Texas, and Roe v. Wade. It is a monumental shift in policy of this country that will have a lasting impact for generations, be talked about in history classes, and spark many discussions of “wow so that really was the case back then?”

But, with that said, I have a bit of tempered excitement today. While for this is a joyous decision, which was handed down during Pride month, it only addresses one piece of the puzzle right now. While same-sex couples will eventually be allowed to marry in all 50 states (there are a few hold-outs at press time), in 29 of those states, you can be fired from your job for entering into your newly acquired right to same-sex marriage according to the Human Rights Campaign. (And additionally in 32 states you can be fired for being who you are.) Here is a state map courtesy of the National Center for Transgender Equality that illustrates this:

Map: State Nondiscrimination Laws
Courtesy: National Center for Transgender Equality

So with that all said, that is why I’m tempered in my excitement today. For while this is a monumental day in the course of our country’s history, one for which I shed tears of happiness when the news broke, one must realize that the work is not done.

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

– Justice Anthony Kennedy

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The Oregon Trail Generation


I just got done reading an article called “The Oregon Trail Generation: Life Before and After Mainstream Tech.” It is a very interesting article and hits at a lot of points that are things I’ve thought about in the very recent past. I’m part of this group of kids (yeah I’m almost 33 but still call us kids!!) who were born in the early 1980’s. In my case, June of 1982. (Almost my birthday guys!!) By all definitions I am one of the original Millennials, having graduated from high school in the year 2000 (remember when it was called Y2K?). I actually fully embrace the title of Millennial, however, I do notice that there are HUGE difference between someone of my age, someone who is my brother’s age (and he’s only 3 years younger than I) and someone like one of my besties who was born at the end of the 80’s.

“We’ve been called Generation Catalano, Xennials, and The Lucky Ones, but no name has really stuck for this strange micro-generation that has both a healthy portion of Gen X grunge cynicism, and a dash of the unbridled optimism of Millennials.”

This is extremely spot on correct. Though I don’t quite like any of the weird terms. For one I have no idea what a Catalano is. And Xennials just sounds odd. Plus how are we “the lucky ones”? We graduated college into the same recession that the younger group of Millennial did. We’re just as “generation screwed” as they are. But, on the flip side, I do get the grunge cynicism and unbridled optimism. On a lot of things I’m very, very pessimistic. (Though some of that is due to the underlying depression.) For example, I don’t see how, given the current trends of the way this country is going, I’ll ever be able to afford the “American Dream.” I’ve got a bunch of student loan debt that I’m still trying to pay off (because we were told we had to go the best schools we could get into), and like most kids my age, I have a bunch of credit card debt. (In my case it was because I got stuck working part time for a spell.) But on the other hand, I still have this spark of Millennial hope that maybe, just maybe, if I keep progressing in the biz that I’ll be able to afford to own a house at some point. (Especially if I suck it up and keep driving my almost 10 year old car.) So yeah, tl; dr: I get it.

“If you can distinctly recall the excitement of walking into your weekly computer lab session and seeing a room full of Apple 2Es displaying the start screen of Oregon Trail, you’re a member of this nameless generation, my friend.”

Oh how I loved computer lab day. Or well…we didn’t exactly have a true computer lab in my grade school until I was in 6th grade and we were in the new Winston Campus building. It was more “corner of the library” day. But the excitement of being able to play Oregon Trail was just…amazing. Or Number Munchers. Or poking away on BASIC and later LOGO. In fact 2 random asides: 1) I’m writing this post in WriteRoom set up to look like a word processor that I would have used in the early 90’s to type papers (before that I was using a typewriter!) and 2) my twitter handle, @chernowa, was actually the way we logged onto the computers in grade school, since we had a rudimentary network available to us (mostly for printing.)

Oh, and more recently, you should have seen how excited I was when the overnight Master Control Operator showed me that you can play Oregon Trail, like the old Apple //e version, online!

“Did you come home from middle school and head straight to AOL, praying all the time that you’d hear those magic words, “You’ve Got Mail” after waiting for the painfully slow dial-up Internet to connect?”

Sort of. At my mom’s house we didn’t have a computer capable of getting online until I was just about in high school. (Though I had my own 386 SX/20 with a whole 4MB of RAM and a HUGE 100 MB hard drive. Oh and a 2x CD-ROM!! Just…no modem.) However, when we were at Dad’s house…oh boy did I get to use things like AOL pretty much when I wanted. First it was at his office, we’d go there and use the computer, then later he bought a computer for at his house and we had AOL on that! When we finally got a computer at mom’s that could do internet it was AMAZING. (It was a Pentium 75 with 16MB of RAM, a 1GB Hard Drive, and a 14.4 modem running on Windows 95.) That computer, with dial-up to a little local ISP was game changing. Not only did I use it to my advantage to make friends online, but I made friends offline too. A few of them I still talk to, occasionally, on Facebook. But yeah… Chat rooms, A/S/L, waiting an hour for one image (or since I was a geek, the latest CNET Radio) to download. Interestingly, I still have my AOL screen names from back then. One is still connected to my dad’s AOL account (which he still apparently pays for to use email) and one is a vanilla AIM name that I’ve used since the mid-90’s. (Though, almost no one is on AIM anymore.)

“Those born in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s were the last group to have a childhood devoid of all the technology that makes childhood and adolescence today pretty much the worst thing imaginable. We were the last gasp of a time before sexting, Facebook shaming, and constant communication.”

“The importance of going through some of life’s toughest years without the toxic intrusion of social media really can’t be overstated.”

Yes we were the last group to not have social media, or the always on contact ability of today’s iPhones. But it was hardly non-toxic. Towards the end of the 90’s, when everyone was being inundated with AOL discs and seemingly everyone was getting on AOL, I was sure as hell made fun of on chat. It just, wasn’t posted virally onto social media. To say that we were totally devoid of the things that go into cyberbullying is not totally true. At least not in my high school. Where there was AIM, and a way to bully, kids would find it. Unfortunately. (I could go into a long drawn out rant, but I won’t. Just…I was that bullied kid in school.)

Oh and the Napster thing… I still haven’t forgiven Metallica for taking away Napster. It was one of the best, and most disruptive pieces of technology of the early 2000’s. Napster single-handily changed the way that we consumed music. It was what eventually made the push that the music industry needed to evolve to give us digital downloads, where we don’t have to buy a whole album full of crap for 1 song. Simply put, Napster, like it or not, was a game changer.

“When we get together with our fellow Oregon Trail Generation friends, we frequently discuss how insanely glad we are that we escaped the middle school, high school and college years before social media took over and made an already challenging life stage exponentially more hellish.”

Eh… Not totally. But it is something that I have thought about. And while we didn’t really have MySpace and the like until we were at graduation age from college, we did have things like Livejournal. Some of us poured our innermost thoughts out into the electronic bits of that website. And we made connections. And friends. All like you do on Twitter and Facebook now. But…without it being called a social network. (I’m still friends with someone whom I first met on Livejournal.) Yes, we did things differently when I was a kid. I remember having to set the timer on a VCR, and make sure the cable box was tuned to the right channel, to record a show. I remember a time when we rode bikes around the neighborhood. Or went to the park by the school to play baseball or kickball. All without having parents present, of course. We went to the neighbor kid’s house, or they came to use, without having to call first. Summers were spent outside, or if it was too hot, we gathered in the basement to play Nintendo. (Dr. Mario, anyone?) Yeah, things were a lot simpler back then (and we had better music too) but I like where we are. I like having social media. I like having an iPhone. I like having my music library in my pocket. Sure there are things I wish we could do differently, but who doesn’t?

This was a very interesting read, and a very enlightening one. I still say that I identify as a Millennial, and not as an “other” or “in-between” like some of my older friends who (especially those who don’t quite fit into Gen X) do.

Now excuse me… I’m going to crank up some No Doubt while I relax on the couch. (See what I did there?)

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TDOR 2013

It’s been a while since I blogged about the Transgender Day of Remembrance. Probably TOO long since I have. Pretty much everything that I said back then still holds true today.

“These 160+ souls should never have had their lives cut short. They were people with the potential to go on and do great things. Who knows what they could have been or become. The only thing that’s known is that they did not choose to be who they were, or to die at the hands of hate. I encourage everyone to please stop the hate in this world.”

That is from the 2009 blog. I’m not going to re-hash what I said there, save to say that we are still being rattled with fear and hate and people are still dying because of it. Since 2009, though, a lot of good has happened. There is visible transgender presence in the media landscape1, there are projects like #girlslikeus and trans* people have not stayed silent when it mattered most.

But sadly, there is still a need for a day like TDOR. Sadly, people are still being killed, or driven to suicide, because of hatred and ignorance. The list of those who were died for being themselves can be accessed here. While it is a far cry from the 160 people who died when I first blogged on the subject2, the fact remains there are still too many names on that list.

I’m going to close this post with a quote from Anne Frank. Because, if people took the time to realize this, maybe so many of our trans* sisters and brothers won’t have to die at the hands of hate.

“We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same.” — Anne Frank

Footnotes

  1. The biggest presence of a trans person in media right now is Laverne Cox who plays Sophia on Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black.” But she is not alone. Since blogging in 2009 there have been musicians like Laura Jane Grace & Mina Caputo, journalist-turned-author Janet Mock, and child-star-turned-activist Chaz Bono who have all made important contributions to trans people’s visibility.
  2. We are once again getting conflicting numbers being reported on the number of people who died this year. The list I linked to above only had roughly 70 names on it when I looked. This morning, I came across a link on BuzzFeed which puts the number at 238, which would make it MORE than the number reported when I blogged in 2009. However, as you can see in that post, there were conflicting reports then as well.
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Only the good die young


I’m literally crying as I sit here and write this post. The television world lost a great one. You’ve never heard her name, but she had talent and unfortunately, it will never be seen on the stage it should have been showcased on.

RIP Jeannie Hayes.

Jeannie and I were co-workers at WREX in Rockford. But before that we were friends at Marquette University. We spent many nights in Johnston Hall working on MUTV News. Working on class work. And doing stuff.

One of the best things that we all did together was not at WREX, but at MUTV. It was my finals week my Senior year, fall semester. We had a bit of unplanned breaking news happen. Even though it was finals week, we all banded together and got the news on the air, even though we’d wrapped for the semester. I remember watching her anchor that newscast and I had the feeling I’d see her at the network level someday.

Sadly…the world had other plans.

We all love you Jeannie and we are going to miss you.

~Adam